Apple Expands Pricing for Apps

For years, iPhone customers who visited the App Store found apps priced at 99 cents, $1.99 and $9.99. The pricing was part of Apple’s policy of..


Apple Expands Pricing for Apps

For years, iPhone customers who visited the App Store found apps priced at 99 cents, $1.99 and $9.99. The pricing was part of Apple’s policy of restricting what developers could charge.

Now, 15 years after the App Store was created, the company is ditching those limitations and allowing apps to choose from nearly 600 pricing options, including the simple fee of $1, Apple said on Tuesday.

Rising inflation around the world has put pressure on Apple and developers to be more flexible in what they charge customers. The company also continues to face a backlash from developers, regulators and lawmakers around the world over its App Store policies. The App Store is the only gateway for thousands of apps to reach iPhone users, making Apple an arbiter of software distribution.

Last year, Apple agreed to introduce more flexible App Store pricing in the settlement of a class-action lawsuit brought by developers, who accused the company of having a monopoly on the distribution of iPhone apps.

The new prices will range from 29 cents to $10,000, a break from the previous range of 99 cents to $999.99, Apple said. The prices will roll out for subscription apps this week and be available for other apps next year.

The $10,000 ceiling could be a sign that Apple anticipates higher-priced offerings, said Carolina Milanesi, an analyst with Creative Strategies. Apple is developing a virtual- and augmented-reality headset that blends the digital world with the real world, and Ms. Milanesi said the video games and entertainment options on that new device could cost more.

“I don’t know if seats courtside for a basketball game on a headset will cost more than a real game or not, but they could,” she said.

Adjusting prices country by country and managing foreign exchange rates will be made easier, Apple said. Some app developers set one subscription price for the world and focus on developed markets such as the United States, Europe and Japan. But Matt Ronge, founder of Astropad, an app that turns the iPad into a drawing tablet, said Apple’s increased flexibility could allow him to expand into new markets.

“If you can charge a more reasonable price in India, it could open up some possibilities,” Mr. Ronge said. “Any time they open it up in any way, I’m a fan.”

As Congress wraps up its year, among the bills under consideration is the Open Markets Act, which seeks to give developers more control over their apps and allow them to skirt the fees — as much as 30 percent — that Apple and Google charge developers.