Upgrade Pricing Coming To The App Store?

A strange dialog box that surfaced in a current version of iTunes may foretell that Apple is planning on allowing developers to offer upgrade pricing for iPhone applications. According to Ars Technica, developer Fraser Speirs was warned that the “discounted price is only available to customers who own a previous version” of an item when he tried updating all his apps via iTunes.

Historically, developers of standard desktop software have offered upgrade pricing to owners of previous versions in the event of a major release. With iPhone applications, minor updates have typically been free to all users and the App Store has lacked a mechanism to offer an upgrade price for a new version release.

Some developers have bypassed this limitation by developing a new version and naming it with the major version number (such asRolando 2 or Tweetie 2), wherein if users wanted that version, they would have to pay full price. To date, no upgrade pricing scheme has existed on the App Store.

The dialog box that Speirs encountered could have been an error since he was updating apps he already purchased. Still, it appears to be a sign Apple is testing the capability to offer discounts to buyers of previous versions of apps. Both developers and users have been asking for such a capability since the App Store launched in 2008.

Following an update to this story, it appears that the dialogue box, as pointed out on a MacRumors forum thread and an Apple Discussion Boards thread, isn’t new and can appear if a user is logged into the wrong iTunes Store account when attempting to update their apps.

Even so, the wording of the dialog box implies upgrade pricing of some sort which could appear in forthcoming versions of the iPhone OS.

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