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What do you get that hard-to-buy-for person on your list who already has everything? Well if they already have an iPhone, which is likely since we’ve already established they’ve got everything worth having, then you can now buy them iPhone apps, directly from the iTunes Store.
It’s been a long time coming, but Apple (s aapl) has finally given the greenlight to app gifting, meaning you no longer have to limit your ridiculous, spontaneous impulse buys of games you will only play once and then never again to just yourself. You can find the new “Gift This App” option alongside the “Add To Wishlist” and “Share Via Facebook” menu items in the dropdown that appears next to the price of any app.
It’s nice to be able to give someone a specific app instead of just an iTunes gift card that they then might waste on absolute and utter crap by accident or through ignorance. I’ll also probably make use of app gifting to get other iPhone-owning friends on board with multiplayer games and multi-user apps that I haven’t been able to sell them on buying through extremely convincing rhetoric alone.
Why did Apple finally decide to turn on iPhone app gifting, at this late juncture? It’s been absent since the launch of the App Store, which took place almost two full years ago. My guess is that Apple flipped the switch in order to have it up and running, bug-free, in time for the iPad’s launch in early April in the U.S., and late April in many other parts of the world.
Gifting apps will be a great way for Apple to take advantage of its existing App Store user base to spread the love and help new iPad owners become immersed in the experience. I’m sure it’ll also have a positive effect on those people who get an iPod touch or an iPhone and never even open the App Store, let alone download any third-party programs, a group whose size continues to surprise me at this late stage.
It’s also good news for developers, who might find the limited number of promo codes Apple provides to be somewhat limiting in terms of getting their products out there to the reviewer community. Maybe we’ll be lucky enough to see giveaways and other types of promotional freebies climb now that gifting is an option. Blogs, for instance, could offer apps as prizes pretty quickly and easily now. Mind you, this isn’t a coy hint about our plans for the future, so don’t hold your breath.
There are some restrictions, of course. You can’t buy in-app purchases or recurring subscriptions for others, nor can you use your iTunes gift cards to give apps. Still, it’s one more option on the low-priced gift ideas list, and there’s nothing wrong with that.