For years, iPhone customers visiting the App Store noticed apps priced at 99 cents, $1.99, and $9.99. Apple‘s policy of limiting what developers may charge was reflected in the pricing. Now, 15 years after the App Store’s inception, Apple is removing those restrictions and allowing apps to choose from almost 600 pricing alternatives, including a basic $1 fee, the company announced on Tuesday.
Rising global inflation has put pressure on Apple and developers to be more flexible in how much they charge customers. In addition, the company continues to face criticism from developers, regulators, and lawmakers around the world for its App Store standards. Because the App Store is the sole route for thousands of apps to reach iPhone consumers, Apple has become the arbitrator of software distribution.
In the settlement of a class-action lawsuit filed by developers accusing Apple of having a monopoly on the distribution of iPhone apps last year, Apple agreed to implement more flexible App Store pricing.
According to Apple, the new prices will range from 29 cents to $10,000, a change from the previous range of 99 cents to $999.99. The prices will be accessible for subscription apps this week and for other apps next year.
According to Carolina Milanesi, an analyst with Creative Strategies, the $10,000 ceiling could be a clue that Apple anticipates higher-priced items. Apple is working on a virtual- and augmented-reality headset that combines the digital and real worlds, and Ms. Milanesi believes the video games and entertainment possibilities on that new device will be more expensive.
“I don’t know if seats courtside for a basketball game on a headset will cost more than a real game or not, but they could,” she said.
Apple stated that it will be easy to adjust prices country by country and manage foreign exchange fluctuations. Some software developers set global subscription pricing and concentrate on developed markets such as the United States, Europe, and Japan. However, Matt Ronge, the creator of Astropad, a software that turns the iPad into a sketching tablet, believes Apple’s expanded flexibility will allow him to enter new industries.
“If you can charge a more reasonable price in India, it could open up some possibilities,” Mr. Ronge said. “Any time they open it up in any way, I’m a fan.”
The Open Markets Act, which seeks to offer developers more control over their apps and allow them to avoid fees of up to 30% charged by Apple and Google, is one of the legislation being considered by Congress as the year comes to a close.