26 May 2012

Google Adds Android App Subscriptions to Play Store

Google's Android Play Store adds comprehensive support for in-app subscription.

Back in April of last year, Apple introduced in-app subscriptions, via iTunes. Realizing they had to keep up, the folks at Google quickly responded by adding...basic support for in-app purchases. Well, we suppose you've got to start somewhere.

Working on the theory that it's never too late, here in May 2012 Mountain View finally catches up with their mobile sector rival. Google's Play Store now provides end-to-end subscription support for all Android applications sold there...

Google's Play Store now suppors in-app subscription payments for all Android applications.
Frontline Commando: first Android game to offer subscriptions
Developers can offer multiple subscription types, giving customers the option of per-month or annual terms. In all cases, billing is handled through the Play Store (Google Payments) and all Play Store subscriptions are set to auto-renew, by default.

Google now supports in-app subscriptions for all Android apps in the Play Store.
Glu's 'VIP Club' offers gamers a slew of benefits
Mindful of Apple's 2011 Newsstand campaign, Google's new subscriptions service is targeted at publishers, whether digital or 'dead-tree' type. Yet they are also promoting it more generally as an option for all apps, including music or video content.

For now, the big beneficiaries will likely be game developers -- weapons upgrades and premium memberships are vital to boosting their bottom line. Glu Mobile (of Frontline Commando fame) is the first gaming house to dive in. CEO Niccolo de Masi said.:
“We’re using Google Play subscriptions to offer consumers a compelling value and a single currency which they can use across Glu’s most popular titles. We’re excited to bring these capabilities to our Android users and we believe that Google Play subscriptions will fuel further growth in our business.”
Next, look beyond games and you'll see far more interesting possibilities. Subscriptions through Google Play Store aren't limited to the mobile app, itself. Thanks to a new Web API, rights can pass between a mobile device and a web app, or vice versa.

So, for example, subscribing to a TV show's website could grant rights to watch podcasts via their mobile app. Going a step further, you might bundle a newspaper with a ('Community Events') website plus a mobile ('Breaking News & Weather') app.

In sum, this new Google Play Store subscription service promises business opportunities for Android developers, plus a potentially lucrative source of mobile revenue for Google ...still running behind Apple and Amazon in per-user app store revenues.:

Chart: Revenue Comparison - Apple iOS App Store vs Amazon Appstore vs Google Play Store
Image: TechCrunch; Click for larger version
MobilePhonesFan thinks this is an important move for Android, but time -- and developer response -- will tell. Devs and curious readers can hit the source links (below) for more info, including a sample app to get you familiar with the new Play Store code.

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