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In-App Purchase now available for free apps

From Apple, via a developer mass-mail:

Now you can use In App Purchase in your free apps to sell content, subscriptions, and digital services.

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. Using In App Purchase in your app can also help combat some of the problems of software piracy by allowing you to verify In App Purchases.

This could be a big deal if it’s adopted by developers in meaningful volume.

Why now? Apple’s previous reasoning for disallowing this, “free apps should remain free”, still applies just as much as it did yesterday. What was the motivating factor for this change?

My guess is that this is a big response to the $0.99-app problem. (It’s also worth noting that, as far as I know, this is the first time Apple has acknowledged app piracy as a problem.)

For new apps, there’s now little reason to make separate free and paid versions — it now makes sense in many cases to have what I’ll call a “free+” app until someone else thinks of a better shorthand term: free for a limited or ad-supported version, with in-app purchase for premium features or content. But this doesn’t completely solve the separate-app problem for everyone:

And it raises other questions:

But, if “free+” pricing takes off, it could have a number of positive effects:

There’s no question that this is a great move for both users and developers.

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