Apple Launches Subscriptions on the App Store

Apple Launches Subscriptions on the App Store

Apple has announced that its new subscription service on the App Store will be available to all publishers of content-based apps, including games. This is the same service that was first launched with News Corp's The Daily app. While the service itself is new, the billing system used to charge for the subscription is not. The new subscription service uses the same App Store billing system that has been used to buy billions of apps and in app purchases.

In this new subscription service, publishers set the price and length of the subscription (weekly, monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly, bi-yearly, or yearly) and then with one click, customers pick the length of subscription and are automatically charged based on their chosen length of commitment (weekly, monthly, etc.). Customers can review and manage all of their subscriptions from their personal account page, which includes the ability to cancel the automatic renewal of a subscription. Apple processes all payments, keeping the same 30 percent share that it does for other in app purchases.

Publishers can, however, use methods other than the App Store for acquiring digital subscribers. For example, publishers could sell digital subscriptions on their web sites. Since Apple would not be involved with those transactions, there would be no revenue sharing or exchange of information with Apple.

This means the publisher gets to keep 100% of the sale for the subscription, but also then needs to provide its own authentication process inside the app for customers that subscribed outside the app. Apple's only real requirement for publishers selling digital subscriptions outside the app is that the same subscription offer must be made available, at the same price or less, to customers who wish to subscribe from within the app, and that publishers may no longer provide links in their apps (to a web site, for example) which allow the customer to purchase content or subscriptions outside of the app.

While Apple is often given a hard time about how tightly it seeks to control content on the App Store, it seems like this subscription service could be a good way for publishers to get customers to sign up for digital subscriptions. For better or worse, a lot of consumers look to the App Store and in app purchases for content. Getting a subscription listed highly in the App Store could give publishers sales volume they might not otherwise see.

What this means for games and gamers, however, is yet to be seen. Could this pave the way for World of Warcraft on the iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad? Or perhaps the long rumored Call of Duty mutliplayer subscription service could make an appearance. Subscription-based gaming is nothing new, but it will be interesting to see how it fares on the App Store where gamers are so used to paying so little for games.

What are your thoughts on Apple launching its new subscription service on the App Store? Do you think this will be good or bad for gaming? Are there any App Store games you would be willing to subscribe to if they regularly delivered new content? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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