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When there’s an app for that… hardware

Last updated on July 23, 2020

I recently had an interesting discussion with a company hat is planning un releasing a useful iPhoneiPad accessory at CES that works with, of course, an app. The company was wondering whether it should charge for the app. Certainly, while most apps  — particularly first-party ones – that work with iPhone-related devices have been free, e.g.,, the Sonos Controller, the Monsoon Multimedia Vukano app, and the Peel application – some have charged separately. A good example of the latter approach is the outlandishly priced Sling Remote app. Logitech also mysteriously has left Squeezebox control to two strong third-party apps.

This company, though, wasn’t looking to gouge. Rather, it was concerned that if it made the app free, that those who didn’t purchase the hardware would be scratching their heads and give it a low rating. This raises some interesting questions. For example, should Apple enforce those who rate an app that requires hardware to have purchased that hardware? I’d argue yes. Alternatively, manufacturers should have the option to make iPhone apps available only with a code that is obtained with the purchase of the product and is then linked to their Apple ID.