I saw this Chinese company offering a demo for their app/service which is a "ipa" file. You can simply visit a link by your iPhone via Safari and you can install the demo ipa file.
The link is right under the iphone app download button.
This makes me wonder what stops people from distributing their app this way outside the Apple app store. A legal issue, but technical can-do?
And I am also wondering what the provisioning profile they have used is, to generate this ipa file from XCode with such broad capacity of installation. As far as Ad Hoc distribution profile goes, it allows only 100 users, still correct? Is this some other provisioning profile I don't know about? My best guess is that this is a normal enterprice installation and they just make it for everyone in the world...can they?
I have tried the demo on my iPhone 4 and it works fine. The left button on the login page is register. The right button is login. Try register with a name (make name unique) and password, as long as you can get a success message back. You can log in.
I work in a company that releases on a private store too, and it works in a very similar way. The only difference is, Apple does not check the app and it takes 1 minute to upload it, not 2 weeks.
How it works :
Users can now click it and download ;)
<a href="itms-services://?action=download-manifest&url=YOUR-UPLOADED-PLIST-FILE.plist">Click here ;-)</a>
(I had to add two ** at the start otherwise SO would show it as a link.)
I'm not sure if you can publish your store app on the app store though, this needs to be checked.
Any other questions :)?