In a surprising move, Apple has launched its App Store subscription service without a co-release of iOS 4.3. In-app subscriptions will allow content producers to easily deliver content with a reoccurring purchase model, instead of a one-time, à la carte purchase system.
It was assumed that Apple would introduce its subscription service during a press event, but apparently a press release on Apple’s website was all the announcement deserved.
Rupert Murdoch’s “The Daily” news app was the first official peek at what Apple’s subscription service would look like, but The Daily has been offered for free since its release. At the end of this month, The Daily will begin its paid subscriptions with Apple’s new infrastructure…
“Apple on Tuesday unveiled its new App Store subscription service, allowing publishers of content-based applications for iOS devices — like newspapers, magazines, video and music — to offer recurring billing, but preventing them from including links to external websites to purchase content or subscriptions.”
Subscriptions will work within the App Store and use the iTunes billing system. Apple will also receive its 30% cut off the top of subscriptions, just like other in-app purchases.
Apple’s opinion on in-app purchases revolves around their 30% cut. From Apple’s press release,
“Our philosophy is simple—when Apple brings a new subscriber to the app, Apple earns a 30 percent share; when the publisher brings an existing or new subscriber to the app, the publisher keeps 100 percent and Apple earns nothing,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “All we require is that, if a publisher is making a subscription offer outside of the app, the same (or better) offer be made inside the app, so that customers can easily subscribe with one-click right in the app. We believe that this innovative subscription service will provide publishers with a brand new opportunity to expand digital access to their content onto the iPad, iPod touch and iPhone, delighting both new and existing subscribers.”
So far, we’ve only seen what subscriptions look like on the iPad with The Daily. Subscriptions can be managed in the Settings app on the iPad. iTunes and the iPhone cannot currently manage subscriptions. (MacStories has a detailed walkthrough of how subscriptions work on the iPad.)
The iPhone will probably not receive subscription support until iOS 4.3. And the fact that the subscription service has been “launched” means that 4.3 can only be around the corner.