How In-App iOS Subscriptions Will Work


Apple today introduced in-app subscriptions alongside newspaper app The Daily, and though during the app’s press conference, Apple VP of Internet Services Eddy Cue said an announcement regarding details would be forthcoming, little else about how subscriptions would work was discussed. Luckily, Apple’s own updated terms of service (via Macworld) for the iTunes Store shed some light on what to expect.

Under a new “Paid Subscriptions” model, developers will soon be able to offer renewable subscription pricing plans through the iTunes Store via in-app purchasing. Subscriptions will work as follows:

  • Subscriptions can cover different lengths of time, like a weekly or monthly period
  • Subscription charges can be set to auto-renew
  • Auto-renewal will not remove funds from your account any more than 24 hours before your renewal period is up
  • If a publisher raises the price of subscription, your auto-renewal will be instantly disabled
  • Subscriptions are charged immediately upon sign-up, even if you’re in the middle of a free trial
  • Subscriptions can be managed from one central location in your iTunes account (much like they’re handled on the Kindle store)
  • Publishers can ask for permission to collect your name, email address and zip code information, and iTunes will pass that data along to them to use for marketing purposes

It was originally a point of contention between publishers and Apple that the Mac-maker wouldn’t pass on access to customer information, but it appears as though Apple decided to make a concession to make the payment scheme more appealing. Maybe that’s what the company traded in exchange for reserving the right to block free access to print subscribers.

Though some are speculating that Apple also relaxed its stance regarding the traditional 70/30 revenue split shared between developers and itself for app sales and in-app purchases for The Daily, Murdoch is on the record as saying that Apple is indeed getting a third of the $0.99 weekly subscription price, at least for the first year. Whether or not other publishers will accept that deal, or can match or beat paper subscription prices while still giving Apple it’s cut remains to be seen.

If publishers do agree to Apple’s terms and prices go down, magazines on the iPad just got a whole lot more appealing. What do you think? Will the availability of subscriptions affect your decision to buy iPad news and magazine applications?

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