Apple Allows iPhone App Upgrades Without App Store

Apple developers previously had to post both paid and free versions of their mobile applications on Apple's App Store. That may become a thing of the past, however, now that Apple is allowing developers to integrate functionality into apps that lets users upgrade from the stripped-down, free version of an app to the paid version without going through the App Store.

Apple will allow developers to insert functionality into iPhone and iPod Touch applications that lets users upgrade from the free (or "lite") version of an iPhone App to the full, paid version without needing to route the purchase through the App Store.

This could potentially streamline Apple's App Store by reducing the number of developers posting both free and paid versions of their applications. Apple, of course, will likely continue to take its same cut of developers' revenue for the paid versions whether or not those paid versions are routed through the App Store.

Over 2 billion Apps have been downloaded from the App Store since its launch in July 2008. According to Apple, the App Store currently holds over 85,000 iPhone and iPod Touch Apps.

Apple's success with mobile applications has led other competitors in the ecosystem, including Microsoft and Research In Motion, to create their own application stores. Microsoft attempted to have an ecosystem of 600 applications ready for download at the launch of Windows Mobile 6.5 on Oct. 6, but only managed to post roughly a third of that number before the mobile operating system's release.

Apple is expected to announce sales numbers for the iPhone 3GS, which was launched in June, during its earnings call on Oct. 19. During its first three days of release, the smartphone sold around 3 million units.

On Oct. 9, Apple released an update for the iPhone and the iPod Touch, 3.1.2, which corrected a number of bugs that had been annoying users, including the notorious "coma mode," in which the smartphone refused to awaken from sleep.

A Sept. 30 report by AdMob stated that the iPhone OS' share of the worldwide smartphone operating system market had grown to 40 percent in August, up from 33 percent in February.