Apple opens up iPhone e-commerce model

16 Oct 2009

Previously only available for paid apps in the iTunes App Store, Apple has now opened up its e-commerce model by allowing developers to add in-application purchases to their free-to-download apps.

Following this, popular email, Facebook and Twitter push-notification app Boxcar has already listed its app as free to download, making extras, such as push notification every time someone mentions you on Twitter, available to purchase within the application itself.

“In App Purchase is being rapidly adopted by developers in their paid apps. Now you can use In App Purchase in your free apps to sell content, subscriptions and digital services,” said Apple in the email announcement to iPhone app developers earlier today.

“You can also simplify your development by creating a single version of your app that uses In App Purchase to unlock additional functionality, eliminating the need to create Lite versions of your app.”

Apple went on to say that by allowing users to verify In App Purchases it would also help combat some software-piracy problems.

This is a significantly improved business model for games developers: instead of games like Assassins Creed having to release the Lite version alongside the paid one, they are more likely to get people moving on to the paid one by allowing them to upgrade after playing the free levels.

By Marie Boran

Photo: Boxcar’s free app with In App Purchase.