Apple allows developers to sell within free apps

On October 17, 2009

App StoreI once listed my biggest pet peeves about apps.  One of them was apps that "double-dip", that is charge you an initial fee then have fees on top of that to play the game or use the application.  Apple initiated such a concept this past March and is now extending it by allowing developers to sell content or services within free apps.

I’m sure Apple has already worked this through, but my question is this: what will prevent some developer from creating a "container" app and basically starting his or her own App Store?  Nothing, I think.  Would Apple get a piece of any sales that occur within apps?  I suspect so, but how will they track it?

I can only think of AppBox Pro, a container app which houses a couple of dozen micro-apps within itself.  Fortunately, the app only charges a low initial fee.  But what if it started charging to add or activate apps within itself?  That’s double-dipping right there.

There is also the "fake-out" nature of this latest development.  Apps can be advertised as free but have assorted hidden fees in order to make them work.  Hopefully Apple has worked out rules to protect the comsumer stating that if an app has additional fees, it must be advertised along with the app before it is even downloaded.

It hasn’t happened yet, but I see this latest development leading to further problems down the road.  There will be a lot of disappointment when it is learned that using free apps will cost people money.  What do you think?