Gigaom is reporting that Apple is testing in-app promotions codes.

If this is similar to how Apple offer promotion codes for paid apps, with all the restrictions and limitations and no way for developers to integrate promotion codes into their apps as a way to provide incentives to users, then I conclude it is a waste of time.

First, as an app developer I’m looking for Apple to allow us to incentivize our costumers by making certain in-app purchases free. One way would be to offer a “code” to our users to enter into the the app and unlock the in-app purchase at not cost to the user.  Apple doesn’t allow this because they are afraid that developers will sell the codes outside of the App Store. This fear prevents any reasonable way to provide incentives to users to share the app with their friends and get a reward for doing so.  People respond to incentives and I want to offer incentives.

For example, Software Ops could offer a system that incentivizes our customers to share our apps with their friends. We would track their friends signups within our app and then fulfill the reward, to the initial user, using a promotion code.

Second, the limitations on the number of promotion codes for an app and the painful process to secure and distribute the promotion codes made the feature all but useless.

Apple if you’re going to offer up in-app-purchase promo codes to help developers, please make them useful and automated so we can offer incentives to our customers.