now that apple has revealed its plans for the iPhone 3.0 software, one of the exciting things about it is what apple calls In App Purchase:
this may actually turn out the be the return of the micropayment. apple's App Store was the first successful way to get an ecosystem of mobile apps off the ground; and it was quickly copied by almost all major mobile OS vendors. it was what made me make my first purchases in bed, browsing featured or popular apps and buying some relaxing game. or interactive fish. whatever, it definitely introduced a model where purchases are done on the level of an impulse buy, which is great for small-scale business.
with this model being extended to within apps, apps can start charging the same small amounts for content, or access to advanced features. it'll be very interesting to see how this feature develops when 3.0 becomes available this summer, but i would not be surprised to see a huge wave of successful micropayment-based apps, disproving the
micropayments will never work mantra repeated for such a long time.
another interesting aspect of this is that apple gets to keep their usual 30% share of every purchase. that's what i would call a
substantial margin. if this new feature really takes off, apple will make tons of money with it, and at some point in time providers will ask why apple charges about ten times as much as credit card companies. and the answer to that is: because you can do what you like when you have a monopoly.