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More iPhone App Store Details Revealed

When Apple opened up iPhone development with the iPhone software development kit (SDK) in March 2008, the company also announced the App Store, the exclusive online storefront for buying and downloading the expected flood of iPhone applications to come. In today’s keynote at the Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple provided more details about how App Store will work when it goes live in early July.

The pricing model remains the same as previously reported. Developers can set whatever price they choose for their applications, with 70 percent of each sale pocketed by the author and 30 percent going to Apple for overhead; free applications require no fee to Apple (see “Apple Announces iPhone 2.0, Releases SDK,” 2007-09-07). Still up in the air is how the App Store will handle trial software, where a fully functional version of a program is available for free for a set time period (such as 30 days). Also unanswered are questions surrounding Apple’s opinion about selling content used by iPhone apps, such as ebooks, maps, game levels, and more. Plus, as software reviewers, it’s unclear to
us how developers will be able to provide review copies to media.

Steve Jobs also provided more detail about how applications will be downloaded. Following the same model as the iTunes Store, users will be able to purchase and download applications via iTunes on a Mac or Windows PC, and then sync downloaded applications to the iPhone or touch. An App Store icon also appears on the Home screen of the device itself for direct purchase and download. Unlike the iTunes Store, however, the App Store allows applications weighing in at 10 MB or smaller to be transferred over the 3G cellular connection to an iPhone, as well as over Wi-Fi or sync via iTunes. Programs larger than 10 MB will be restricted to Wi-Fi or iTunes.

And, enterprise customers will be able to distribute their own applications to their employees via intranet or iTunes. Security options will enable the applications to run only on the employees’ devices.

A new distribution method, Ad Hoc, requires developers to register for a certificate that enables them to seed software on up to 100 iPhones. As an example, Jobs cited a computer science professor who could distribute an application to students.

Jobs announced that the App Store will have a greater scope that coincides with the broader worldwide rollout of the iPhone 3G, serving 62 countries (out of over 70 countries anticipated to carry the iPhone by the end of the year; Apple has not yet signed deals covering China or Russia).

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