Android Adds In-App Subs, Apple Tweaks App Discovery

Apps-BBBoth Google and Apple made changes to their respective mobile app stores this week in an effort to help developers better monetize and merchandise their wares.

Google Play now allows developers to deploy subscription models within the apps. According to the Android Developers Blog, publishers can use the in-app billing mechanism to sell monthly, annual and auto-renewing subscriptions to users. The Google Play manager interface can handle the options and can inform the users of new charges at renewal. Apple introduced in-app subscriptions last year, and it formed the basis of the new Newsstand section of the App Store.

Google emphasizes that its service is aimed at periodicals as well as at other content types hoping to bundle different types of content such as game levels or music and video content. The mobile game maker Glu was the first to announce use of the new model.  The Glu VIP Club is a monthly subscription that gives gamers access to special content and sweepstakes across multiple Glu titles. It will be available later this month.



Apple is also trying to support its app developers, now with new designations in the App Store to highlight titles. Seen for the first time this week, some titles are being labeled “Editor’s Choice” apps. Among the first we have seen is the Facebook Camera app that the social network released yesterday, May 24 and AutoDesk’s Sketchbook Ink app.

Apple is also taking a page from Amazon in offering a new Free App of The Week category. Announced on its @AppStore Twitter feed with the hashtag #FreeAppoftheWeek, Cut The Rope: Experiments is being highlighted as free for a limited time. From the hashtag, it appears that Apple will be doing this regularly. Amazon has had success in its Android app market with daily free apps.

With hundreds of thousands of apps in both Android and Apple stores, discovery has become a difficult and often costly challenge for developers of all kinds. A cottage industry of in-app advertising, cross-marketing and incentivized downloads emerged in recent years as solutions to the app distribution problem. Apple recently acquired the app search service Chomp, presumably intending to incorporate some of its app discovery methods into the App Store. Facebook is getting into the game as well, announcing recently that it will open an App Center where users can be redirected more easily to mobile app downloads as well as apps in the Facebook ecosystem and other Web apps.  

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