February 15, 2011

Subscriptions Come To the iPhone App Store

Apple announced today the immediate availability of a subscription purchase model for its iPhone app store. An update to iOS is apparently not required. What this means is that any available app may be offered by the author on a subscription basis. Don't expect every app to come this way, instead, this model will be applied where it makes sense: iPad magazines and newspapers (The Daily is a prime example) and other periodically-updated content. This should kickstart a more-affordable slew of magazine content, since the app author can be assured of an ongoing relationship with a large portion of subscribers. The existing purchase model requires a new in-app purchase for each edition, which presents a new opportunity to lose buyers each time.

The exact details of how this works aren't clear. I'm guessing that your subscription payment buys you an app, which in turn updates with new content as it becomes available. If you stop paying, your app stops updating. You keep past content.