A Bug In Apple's App Store Just Lost This Developer Thousands

The developer of one of the most popular iPhone apps has accused Apple of changing the price of its $US10 app to “free” just hours before the release of Apple’s new mobile operating system, iOS 8.

Multiple technology news sites posted reports last night claiming that the #1 paid productivity app, 1Password, had gone free ahead of the release of iOS 8 tomorrow. This was exciting news, as the popular app helps keep passwords secure and makes it more difficult for hackers to gain access to online accounts. In the wake of the iCloud celebrity photo hack, it seemed like a godsend.

But Agile Bits, the developer of the app, quickly denied that 1Password was free at all, instead claiming that Apple had accidentally reduced the price to free. 

Twitter users sharing the news that the $US10 app had suddenly gone free were contacted by the 1Password account to let them know that it was all just a big misunderstanding. 

In a statement to MacUser magazine, Agile Bits confirmed that the app was never reduced in price, and that an error caused by Apple meant that it was available for free in many countries.

Mac Rumours updated its original story on the app sale to report on a tweet from app developer Agile Bits claiming that the app should never have been offered for free. Both that tweet, and the Mac Rumours article on 1Password’s surprise sale, have now been deleted. 

Speculation has arisen over exactly what caused the popular app to go free. With iOS 8 releasing tomorrow, it’s possible that Apple accidentally published a new version of the app, along with its new pricing scheme, before it was meant to be released. Some users spotted that the app had been updated to include an in-app purchase, possibly integration with the iPhone’s TouchID fingerprint sensor. Turning 1Password into a freemium app wouldn’t be an unusual move, it already uses that revenue model on the Android App Store.

So if the app really was reduced in price due to an error by Apple, how much has the company lost? Using data from App Annie, we can see that 1Password is almost constantly in the top 100 paid apps in the US App Store. But according to Forbes, 90% of paid apps are downloaded less than 500 times a day. With its position as the most-downloaded paid productivity app in the US, it’s likely that 1Password sees several hundred downloads a day. That could mean that Agile Bits lost up to $US2,000 due to Apple’s pricing mistake.

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