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How do you package an iOS app with a physical product?

For all you mobile pros, I am looking for ideas on solving a business problem. I want to package an iOS app with a physical product (e.g. book) for a single purchase.How can this be done within the Apple's constraints on the app distribution process? It seems Mac apps can be distributed outside the app store, but not iOS apps, and Apple will reject anything that looks like it's bypassing the app purchase flow. I'm happy to pay the 30% share on the app price, but I need it to be bundled with other product.

8 Replies

Mike Portanova
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Mike Portanova Entrepreneur
Director of Audience Development at Atlas Obscura
The best way to do this is to package the physical product with a small card that has a promo code on it. This is how Starbucks features apps in their physical stores (or gives away a free song). The user then opens the App Store, clicks "Redeem" and enters the code.
Josh Bohls
0
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Josh Bohls Entrepreneur
Founder at Inkscreen
My company sells a mobile app to enterprise customers, and it's set up to require an activation code at first launch. When the code is entered it pings an authentication server. In our world, the IT department purchases blocks of activation codes and adds the app to specific employees mobile profile.

Question: does one require the other?

One example to look at is https://www.ismartalarm.com/ - the alarm system comes in a box with an instruction manual that outlines steps to download the mobile app (which is required to set up and control the alarm). You'll want to set up a landing page for the app with a simple URL.
Leonid Tunik
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Leonid Tunik Entrepreneur
Independent Contractor
Mike - we could do that, but we're only allowed 100 promo codes.

Josh - so your app is free to download, and your activation code is part of the product you sell? Did you have any problems getting the app approved?
Josh Bohls
0
0
Josh Bohls Entrepreneur
Founder at Inkscreen
Our app hasn't gone live yet but I know we won't have a problem because there are 20+ other apps that were set up the same way, integrated with Good Technology.

Here are some examples of other apps also integrated with Good already on the app store that are listed for free but require a code to activate, which has to be purchased through Good:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/box-for-good-technology/id502151736?mt=8
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/alfresco-for-good/id678135050?mt=8
https://itunes.apple.com/ru/app/notate-for-good-technology/id648469049?l=en&mt=8

Ken Carpenter
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Ken Carpenter Entrepreneur
Software Engineer at Arista Networks
Hi Leonid, Unfortunately Apple provides no way of doing this. Your best bet is probably to give the app away for free on the App Store and have it only work properly if the hardware is found. See, for example, the Fitbit app. The app is almost useless without a Fitbit device. https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/fitbit-activity-calorie-tracker/id462638897?mt=8&ign-mpt=uo%3D4 Ken Carpenter Mind Juice Media Inc.
Brad Miller
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Brad Miller Entrepreneur
Healthcare Data, Strategy and Operations
Hi Leonid -

A good friend of mine, who also happens to work at the desk behind mine at our co-working space, has a start-up called Snowshoe -http://beta.snowshoestamp.com Essentially what they're doing is creating ways to embed specific signatures to physical devices that allow those devices to be recognized by touchscreen phones. Put another way, their technology would allow you to put custom IDs on each book and pair them with the customer's phone. Pretty cool technology- give it a look and I'd love to put you in touch. [removed to protect privacy].

Brad
Bryan Lemster
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Bryan Lemster Entrepreneur
Owner, Halcyon Innovation, LLC.
Promo codes?
Candice Hughes
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Candice Hughes Entrepreneur • Advisor
CEO & Founder Hughes BioPharma, AdapTac Games, Digital & Mobile Health, Biotech, Technology Scout
Why not create an ebook and find a way to embed it into the app?
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