Six months after revising its iPhone app on a subscription model, Guardian.co.uk is at two crossroads – 1) its first subscribers must this month consider whether to pay to renew, 2) Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) will also this month start requiring 30 percent of what the publisher makes.
Releasing stats, Guardian News & Media says the app was downloaded 403,388 times since the January revision. After a free trial, 67,258 people went on to subscribe – in the UK, 72 percent of them for one year (£3.99), 28 percent for six months (£2.99)
In other words…
— The Guardian made between £201,101 (six-month) and £268,359 (12-month) in iOS subscriptions, depending on which subscription period was most popular globally (calculation mine).
— That is significantly more money than contributed by readers of the publisher’s free website.
— But it’s less than two percent of the £12.1 million The Guardian could have made if those 67,258 app subscribers had instead bought the daily print edition over the last six months.
— 16.6 percent of downloaders converted in to subscribers.
— 36,089 people downloaded the app in the U.S., where it remains free and ad-funded because The Guardian wants to build its audience there.
For all these stats, GNM seems to be pushing its mobile website harder than its subscription app. A recent print edition I saw carried a half-page ad for its mobile proposition that promoted the mobile site only and omitted any mention of the money-making app.
The publisher says m.guardian.co.uk traffic has growth to 10 percent of Guardian.co.uk’s total, up from 4.5 percent in 2010. The intention is likely to boost sales of mobile website ads; none were served to my handset when I accessed the site today.
Watch our for whether subscriptions remain stable or grow significantly when readers must start renewing during the second half of this year, and for whether the requirement for The Guardian to give up 30 percent of these renewals will make it more inclined to push the mobile web harder still.
Fourteen months after iPad was released, a Guardian iPad app is on the horizon.
Disclosure: Our publisher ContentNext is a wholly owned subsidiary of Guardian News & Media.