The Guardian newspaper announced the long awaited launch of its Android app this Wednesday, to sit alongside its iPhone app and mobile website.
However, whilst the iPhone and Android Guardian apps are similar, in the UK there is one fundamental difference. The iPhone app only provides access to content via a 6 or 12 month subscription whilst the Android version has been launched with free access to content, subsidised by advertising.
Past iPhone and Android usage data supports the view that, in general, iPhone users tend to use their phone to do more, download and use more apps and critically are far more willing to pay for apps than Android users. It is not known whether The Guardian has taken a view that it can charge ‘high-end’ UK iPhone users but not mass-market Android owners or, as it did with the iPhone app, it is launched as a free app and then replaced with a subscription-based app.
The Android app launch was reported by paidContent, which is published by a wholly owned subsidiary of Guardian News & Media. paidContent reported a Guardian News & Media spokesperson as saying, “We feel that having a free, ad-funded Android app is the right business model for this marketplace and platform at this point in time… We have no plans to change our iPhone pricing model as it stands, though we are always reviewing and watching the market very closely.”
The Guardian announcement of the Android app and paidContent also provided some interesting insights into The Guardian’s approach and uptake on mobile.
- • The Guardian promotes its free mobile website harder than its subscription iPhone mobile app.
- • The mobile website, m.guardian.co.uk, now accounts for around 12% of their digital traffic on average achieving a record 802,975 visitors recently.
- • After revising its iPhone app on a subscription model in January 2011, by June, 67,258 people had subscribed to the app (in the UK, 72% of them for one year at £3.99, 28% for six months at £2.99).
- • That suggests it made £193,218 from annual subs and £56,308 from six-month subs in the first half of the year, for a total £249,526 before Apple’s commission.
- • The milestone coincided with the first of the six-month subscribers being required to renew, although The Guardian won’t disclose how many people have done so.
- • It also coincided with Apple’s new policy of requiring subscription payments go through iTunes Store with 30% commission. “Our iPhone subscriptions have always run through iTunes, so there is no change in terms of the 30% issue,” a spokesperson says.
- • The iPhone app has been downloaded 52,915 times in the US, where it is free because The Guardian wants to build an audience there.