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Apple pushing iPhone developers to charge for would-be free apps

Developers wishing to release software applications for the iPhone and iPod touch for free are being encouraged by Apple to charge a fee instead, AppleInsider has learned.

People familiar with the iPhone Developer Program initiated in March note that companies and individuals approved for the program are being assigned a liaison, or "development partner," who serves as a resource, offering advice and gathering feedback on plans for applications that will eventually be submitted to upcoming App Store for approval.

Those liaisons, who appear to be evangelists rather than technical contacts, aren't mandating that developers stick a price tag on their creations immediately. They are, however, suggesting that serious consideration be put into doing so "at some point."

Along the same lines, Apple will reportedly allow developers to submit more than one version of their application to the App Store, which will ship as part of iPhone Software v2.0. For instance, a full-featured version would be available at cost while a "lite" version would be provided as a free trial download to entice users to purchase the full version.

Apple's motives for the moves are clear. It will bear the cost of hosting, marketing and running the App Store in exchange for 30 percent of the revenues from each application sold through the service; developers get to keep the remaining 70 percent. That said, it had promised to allow developers to give away their applications if they so chose.

While not necessarily a big deal for iPhone owners who will receive the App Store for free and who can pick and choose applications at their will, Apple's aggressive push towards app pricing may serve as an added nuisance for iPod touch owners.

Since Apple does not account for sales of the touch-screen media player through subscription accounting like it does the iPhone, touch users will have to pay an initial fee just to update their devices to iPhone Software v2.0 in order to access the App Store.