Mobile App Rentals May Be The Next Big Thing in Smartphones

Mobile app rentals may be poised to become the next big thing in the world of smartphones, especially if your smartphone is Apple’s iPhone.

As reports surfacing Monday suggest, Apple may soon unveil this innovative content delivery strategy for apps. The possibility was first raised when some curious code was uncovered in the latest iTunes beta, according to Darrell Etherington of The Apple Blog.

“Apps are automatically removed from your iTunes library at the end of the rental period” is the exact phrase that sparked this latest round of speculation.

The code in question references app rental periods, after which apps would automatically be removed from your device and/or computer. Apple uses the same system for rental movies on iTunes. Renting mobile software is an admittedly unusual concept, but there are certainly instances when time-limited access to content makes more sense than buying the whole hog.

It remains to be seen, however, if the establishment of mobile app rentals could prove profitable for both Apple and the developers behind the apps. While there is no doubt a great profit incentive to release teasers and trials for large desktop applications like Photoshop or Final Cut Pro, it isn’t yet clear what the long-term value gain would be for companies and developers to take the “Redbox” approach, so to speak, with mobile app availability.