November 7th, 2010

Guardian app moving to subscription model

New Guardian subscription app to be launched in December

• New Guardian iPhone app moves from ‘one-off’ payment to subscription model in all countries except US
• More publishers are exploring pricing and disaggregation models to generate recurring and incremental revenue

The Guardian is reported to be moving its iPhone app from a ‘one-off’ payment model to a recurring subscription. The new app is due to be launched in December, and will be available at £2.99 for six months’ access or £3.99 per year.

The app will be available by subscription in every country except the US, where it will be ad-supported.

The current app, priced at £2.39, has been downloaded 205,000 times since its launch in December 2009, delivering just over £340,000 after Apple’s commission.

However, without recurring income, The Guardian faced the increasingly tough prospect of attracting new readers outside of  its traditional base. This is a challenge for all publishers and some are turning to subscription models and charging for specialised supplements separately. Mail Online recently introduced a subscription iPhone app priced at £4.99 for six months and £8.99 for a year and Times Newspapers produced an iPad app based on ‘Eureka’ – its monthly science magazine.

Within the debate on whether digital – and mobile in particular – can ‘save’ the publishing industry, this will test whether publishers can move beyond the ‘one-off’, impulse purchase of apps to a relationship with readers based on continual payment. If it doesn’t work, many publishers will have to rely on advertising to create a long-term sustainable proposition.

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