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new developer asking for in-app purchase advice and saying hello

02-06-2010, 04:49 PM
Joined: Feb 2010
Posts: 1
new developer asking for in-app purchase advice and saying hello

Hi everyone! *WAVES WILDLY*

A friend of mine pointed me to this site; I had no idea it even existed! I am so very excited to find you all!!!

I'll start by introducing myself. I am one of a two-person (married couple) development team. My spouse is the programmer. I am pretty computer-stupid and not very technical. So, really, the "development" part of our app is more like a one-person team. I am a writer and editor by profession.

We (in the loosest sense of "we") are nearly finished with our first app. There isn't that much programming left to do before it's ready for beta testing. If all goes well, we should submit it to Apple before the month is out.

However, there is one big bit of code left undone: the in-app purchase. We have been trying to figure out what to do about this for quite some time. So, yes, I am asking for advice!

Our original plan was to sell "credits" with in-app purchase, where 99 cents bought you 99 credits. You could then page through our catalog and spend your credits on various stories. The primary advantage to this method was that we could then price stories individually; we would not have to price all stories at 99 cents or $1.99 or whatever. Another important advantage to this method is that we would not be limited to 1000 stories - Apple's limit for in-app purchase items. Also, we wouldn't have to get Apple's approval for each individual story. (Not only does this make the process faster for US, but it's also kinder to other developers, I would think.)

However, after reading the in-app purchase rules document on page 3, I am afraid that this idea violates Apple's rules. (Do you agree or disagree with that reading of the rules?)

We know we've seen other developers who seem to have just that set-up, though, so we wonder if maybe we should try it anyway and see what happens?

We've discussed this a lot with each other and with some of our friends. We've come up with several alternative solutions, but none of them are really wonderful. Perhaps some of you would have opinions on our solutions, or perhaps even have solutions we haven't thought of?

Here's some of the ideas we have on the table:

1. Sell "tokens" which must be converted at time of purchase into a specific story. There would be several tokens, specifying that you get a story, or choice of two stories, or whatever, from a particular list. For example, one token might be for any one story off a list of g-rated stories priced at 99 cents each, while another token might be for any two stories off a list of pg-rated stories priced at 49 cents each. This strikes me as convoluted and difficult for the user. (I'm also not certain that this doesn't also break the rules.)

2. Suck it up, hope that Apple lifts the 1000-item limit before we get that far, and just throw the stories at Apple and hope they aren't too slow with the approvals. Price everything in 99-cent intervals.

3. Make only our "premier" content available for in-app purchase; create a separate storefront for the rest.

Any thoughts on the subject?
02-18-2010, 12:44 PM
1000 stories? Just make separate apps.
02-18-2010, 01:29 PM
Joined: Aug 2009
Location: San Francisco
Posts: 362
Send a message via Skype™ to micah
Hello! I haven't completed an In App Purchases app yet, but I'm currently working on one that should be done soon, so I just read through all the documentation myself.

Basically, Apple wants to make sure that if a customer buys something with IAP, it then belongs to them and they can use that feature on all their iDevices that they sync with iTunes (sort of like if they buy an app, or if they buy a song). So if a customer has an iPod Touch as well as an iPhone, and they buy IAP, then they must have access to that same IAP on all their devices. And they uninstall your app and then later reinstall it, they need to still have those stories. And if their iPhone breaks and they buy a new one and then install it, they need to still have what they bought with IAP.

This makes the IAP programming bit a lot harder, and I don't think this is possible to do without some sort of online server that keeps track of what each user has bought with their credits (sort of like how an MMO would do it). The much simpler way would be to sell the stories at $.99 each, and unlock that functionality if they've bought it. But you know, that has its disadvantages too. So good luck!

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