This is based purely on a hypothetical situation—but one prominent voice in the tech industry believes developers may re-charge customers for apps when iOS 7 hits. Basically, Gedeon Maheux, co-founder of Iconfactory, believes developers could potentially charge consumers for a new coat of paint—that's pretty much what it comes down to. You want your apps to follow the same design ethos Jony Ive introduced this summer? Pay up.
Maheux argues that updating interface elements, compiling code, etc., costs developers a lot of money. And while many apps will likely be updated free of charge this fall, Maheux think we'll see a surprising number of developers charging for the updated look because of these costs.
"I suspect there will be a surprising number of developers who will use the launch of the new operating system to completely re-boot their app, and why not?" Maheux argues. "The visual and interactive paradigms [of] iOS 7 mark a natural breaking off point and a perfect opportunity to re-coup costs."
I don't have any experience developing apps, so I can't relate to the plight mentioned by Maheux. But from a consumer perspective, I can safely say—and I think I speak for a lot of people, at least in the Herd—that I'd be pretty frustrated with having to re-buy an app just for an updated look. It's unlikely the bigger apps would even entertain the notion of re-charging customers, but some smaller teams might adopt Maheux's suggested strategy. And that's no good for Apple's ecosystem.
Maheux's blog post brings up a number of valid points about why it might be necessary for some developers—it arises a good discussion. On the whole, I wouldn't think consumers would be quite so willing to re-pay for an app unless there was a significant update along with the new look. Many of today's best apps are free anyway, but in the event a developer does charge again—it's happened before, and people were not happy—would you purchase the app?