When Apple announced their iPhone 3.0 software, they announced an API‡ called StoreKit. This is a small collection of interfaces to facilitate purchases via Apple. It is, of course, still subject to the 30% cut by Apple – they are about to become even richer on the App Store. (Since they are not providing hosting of content as they are with the apps, it seems they should shrink this 30% to 20% or so!)
They suggested it might be used to buy new levels in a game (in which case you would download the content from the App developer’s server) or provide subscription based content (6 more months of the magazine, for instance).
For the 2008 season, Major League Baseball provided an application for $5. They had to provide a new app (to get the revenue) for the 2009 season. This will prevent that kind of requirement, as well as allow perhaps “buy game audio for $1 – video for $2” allowing you to download the game of your interest.
But what if they want to charge less than $1? They can keep a running balance. 5¢ for that content? Of course, you now have 95¢ left in your balance.
I can totally see The New York Times and other newspapers trying out a micropayment system. How about 1¢ for every article you download? Keep a $5 buffer to keep the payments less frequent. Charge a $1 for the app and give them $5 of credit.
I fully expect someone to try out the micropayment scheme. I am really interested to see if anyone succeeds with it.
‡I consider an API a collection of interfaces, Apple and their “over a 1000 new APIs” seems to consider it a single method or function, which would of course be useless by itself.
Note: FlipSide5 does not have any plans to institute micropayments.