If an app gets transferred from one developer to another, does it necessitate a re-purchase?

From the App Store Connect, App transfer overview page:

You transfer an app when you’ve sold the app to another developer or you want to move it to another App Store Connect account or organization.

You can transfer the ownership of an app to another developer without removing the app from the App Store. The app retains its reviews and ratings during and after the transfer, and users continue to have access to future updates. Additionally, when an app is transferred, it maintains its Bundle ID — it's not possible to update the Bundle ID after a build has been uploaded for the app.

I have purchased a free/paid app from the App Store but it is not currently installed on the device. In the meanwhile, the original developer of the app decides to sell away the ownership to someone else.

As an end user who previously bought the app, (and any associated in-app purchases,)will this necessitate a re-purchase? i.e. will the app remain linked to my Apple ID or not?

Emphasis on the fact that the app is not currently installed on device. The linked documentation does mention that the users will continue to have access to future updates, but I am looking for an authoritative documentation which answers the query. (Or someone who had personal experience with this scenario)

3 Answers 3


No re-purchase is necessary for the end-user - you'll be able to both download the app and receive updates in the future. The app remains listed as a Purchase on your Apple-ID, so it doesn't matter if the app is actually installed on your device or not.

As you've requested a reply from someone with personal experience, I can say that I have tried this in practice - and it works like described.

The only real change visible to users is that if the app is part of keychain sharing group, the user will have to login once again after installing the first update from the new developer.

Apart from that - everything else is technically exactly as if the original developer hadn't transferred the app, i.e. the new developer can choose to remove the app from sale, stop doing updates for it, make it incompatible with older devices, create updates that remove functionality, etc. - but the original developer could have done the same.

  • Thanks. That means that the transfer remains completely invisible to the end-users, right? I couldn't find this fact documented anywhere.
    – Nimesh Neema
    Dec 15, 2018 at 11:01
  • Not completely, no. But there's very few edge cases where it is visible to end-users.
    – jksoegaard
    Dec 15, 2018 at 11:02
  • The only thing really noticable to users is if the app uses keychain sharing - then they have to relogin after the first update from the new developer. If it's a game on game center, the leaderboard might also have a slightly different name - but all the contents on the leaderboard (old scores) will be retained.
    – jksoegaard
    Dec 15, 2018 at 11:09

There's no 100% certainty here, but let me explain that because it's not as bad as it first sounds.

Assuming your Apple ID has previously purchased the app (either free or paid), then it doesn't matter if the app is installed on any of your current devices. The purchase is in that Apple ID's purchase history and it still has access to both redownload the app and to future updates.

However, the reason this isn't 100% certain is because the developer may choose to no longer offer the app for sale and/or offer the availability of older versions to users who are not on the latest version of iOS. Let me explain with the following scenario.


Let's say you purchased app XYZ on an iPhone 6s with iOS 9 installed. You continued to update XYZ from version 1 up to and including version 3. You then purchase an iPhone X (with iOS 11) and decide to start from scratch in terms of what apps you install and you don't install XYZ. In the meantime, the developer of XYZ transfers the app to another developer. This new developer continues to maintain and update the app which is now at version 5.

Apple then releases iOS 13 and the new developer updates XYZ to version 6. However, upon doing so, they decide to edit the list of last compatible app versions so that moving forward only versions 5 and 6 are available for download. However, because you're still on iOS 11, when you try to install the app it isn't available.

Of course, in the above scenario, you could just update to iOS 12 (or iOS 13) and the app will then be available.

Additionally, as alluded to earlier, the developer may choose to remove the app from sale in which case you also will be unable to install it again.

NOTE:- The original/existing developer of an app can also remove it from sale or edit the last compatible app versions list, in which case the end result would be the same.

  • This really has nothing to do with the transfer. The existing developer could also choose to remove the app from sale or edit the list of last compatible app versions.
    – jksoegaard
    Dec 15, 2018 at 11:03
  • @jksoegaard Agreed. I'm not saying this couldn't happen with the existing developer, I'm just being thorough in explaining the circumstances under which an app wouldn't be available if it's been transferred to a new developer. That said, I'll edit my answer just to clarify this in case I'm implying something I didn't mean to. Thanks for the feedback! :)
    – Monomeeth
    Dec 15, 2018 at 11:08

The transfer does not cause an app to change a bundle.

  • The transfer could allow the new developer force a re-download by changing the Bundle ID.

One additional complication is that iOS data storage can be designed as part of a group. Think Microsoft Office - the data storage containers are combined several apps with different Bundle ID share a data storage group.

If an app was transferred away from group storage, that would break the app. It’s almost certain the new developer is then forced by Apple to change the BundleID before shipping a new build. (In this edge case)

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