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How to breathe new life into mobile apps with an in-app purchase

How to breathe new life into mobile apps with an in-app purchase

Users downloaded your app. They played with it and they loved it. But now they’re done. Don’t let them disappear – offer them more content. Russell Berry from explains how you can breathe new life into your mobile app with an in-app purchase.

An In-App purchase enables developers a way of charging users for content and consumables through their existing mobile app. The user never leaves the application, and all the handling, accounting and billing is taken care of by the same mechanism as purchasing an application.

Whilst it presents an opportunity for businesses and developers to create a recurring revenue stream, you do need to carefully think about your payment platform.

iPhone Apps

With the iPhone, you have the means to sell more apps and content to your users after the original purchase from within your app residing on their iPhone.

The users are charged for content and consumables through their existing iTunes Account with Apple acting as payment processor (for a 30% cut).  In the In App Purchase system, Apple are not responsible for delivering the additional content, they simply approve and handle the payment.

Although it is worth keeping in mind that the In App Purchase on the iPhone is only available from within paid apps.

So if you have a free app in the iTunes store, you’ll have to think about a pricing strategy which is effectively giving users the chance to try your app for minimum investment, enabling them to see and play with it before being hit with further costs to upgrade or enable more features.

Android Apps

Android is like Linux, it’s Open Source, it’s free. Many have been excited about Android being an Open Source platform, certainly as has enabled carriers to work with handset makers, dictating the feature set and, as a result, revitalising the revenue stream. They can promote their favorite apps, content, and services sales.

However, the Android market continues to pose major headaches for developers looking to distribute and bill for premium applications.

Developers in only nine countries are presently able to offer paid apps via Android Market, and paid apps are available in just 14 of the 46 countries that the storefront serves.

Also, consumers must first register for a Google Checkout account in order to download paid Android applications, except in locations where operator billing is available.

However I believe these issues will soon be resolved as the Android market continues to grow.

Where It’s All Going…

The next generation of mobile phones will already have specially-made SIM cards featuring an "app" for mobile shopping payments.

Users follow simple on-screen instructions either to pre-load their mobile with funds, like a pay-as-you-go phone, or link the app directly to a bank account.

To purchase something the cashier swipes your mobile over the terminal. A beep registers the sale and users get the message "Accepted" - or "Declined" if the account is already maxed out.

Exciting stuff, but it certainly adds a new worry to accidently leaving your phone in the pub!

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