iPhone apps may soon become the gifts that keep on giving.
Buried in the introduction of OS 3.0 — and overshadowed by the cries of "Oooh! Cut and paste, finally!" — is the ability for an app to serve as a type of mini-App Store. The days of a user's interaction with a programmer ending with the former handing over their money for the latter's code will give way to the programmer being able to offer the user virtual gifts, ebooks, and application upgrades, without leaving the app itself.
It's a win for the coder, who can create an app that generates a steady stream of post-purchase income — and a win for the user, who can expect more, and more frequent, upgrades from the programmer. It's also an open doorway for the Netflixes and Amazon's of the world, where an app could download their content with one hand while uploading access fees with the other. Mind you, this wouldn't spell the end of the App Store proper — they'll still be applying their rigorous entry exams to new apps before making them available.
We could be seeing the real "I Am Rich" app before too long…