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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