In-app purchases aren’t just for fans of virtual worlds, online poker or kitting out their social network profile with cartoon bling anymore. These on-demand, value-priced virtual buys, which download right to your smartphone, computer or tablet PC, are also coming to a full range of handheld platforms and entertainment options.
On the heels of News Corp.’s iPad digital newspaper, The Daily, The Wall St. Journal reported that Apple will require magazine and newspaper apps to process all such payments through its iTunes digital store. The Daily, which charges subscribers $1/week (hint: free workarounds exist), is expected to be among the first of many publications and leisure software options which charge users for the in-app purchase of additional articles, books, virtual goods or multimedia content. Starting March 31st though, Apple will begin to reject all magazine, book and newspaper apps that don’t use the iTunes store’s in-app payment system, which is prompting concern amongst industry insiders.
Additional details regarding exact revenue splits with creators and the status of existing apps which offer standalone payment solutions remain unclear. But experts fear that it may be the first step in Apple’s attempt to dominate digital distribution of periodicals, software and video games, just as the company has gained a stranglehold over digital music sales.
Google also recently reported that in-app purchases would be coming to the Android operating system shortly, which powers a number of popular smartphones and tablet PCs. Using the system, you’ll be able to buy additional songs from within in favorite music games, purchase books and videos from digital storefronts or unlock extra features from within favorite software products.
Potentially offering shoppers more convenient software trials and cost-conscious add-ons, critics fear that in-app purchases may also be used by app developers to charge for content and features that that would otherwise have been freely provided.