Google just unveiled a new feature in Google Play for in-app billing: Subscriptions.
In-app billing launched in Google’s marketplace a year ago to allow developers more opportunities for earning cash with apps. Approximately 23 of the 24 top-grossing apps now take advantage of Google’s money-making service, and Ibrahim Elbouchikhi, Google Play’s product manager, even told 9to5Google in a public statement that the total revenue produced from in-app purchases surpasses revenue from traditional app purchases. The executive further noted the feature is an extreme success, especially because it gives developers multiple monetizing options through “try-and-buy, virtual goods, upgrades, and other popular business models.”
Now, developers have another business model option thanks to today’s newly-announced in-app subscription feature within in-app billing. The feature is quite self-explanatory—users can purchase subscriptions to any type of extra content from an app using any Android device. Some examples of in-app subscription could apply to bonus game levels/maps or and recurring services like journals and magazines. The ability to sell monthly or annual subscriptions in any app is effective immediately, while users can also start buying right away.
“While making it easy for developers to offer a great purchasing experience, our subscriptions are also designed for flexibility,” Elbouchikhi explained. “Developers can use them to monetize premium dynamic content such as journals and magazines, but they can also use them to sell access to bundled products, game levels, music and video content, value-added services, or any other digital content.”
Subscriptions are auto-renewing, so developers just need to fix the price and billing interval, while Google Play handles the transactions like it does for app purchases. On the other side of the fence, users see subscription details when they decide to buy a package. Once the transaction concludes, Google Play also manages recurring billing. It will even keep users apprised of auto-renewing subscriptions through email, but users can still visit My Apps in the Play Store app to view/cancel any subscription.
A slew of developers will launch apps with in-app subscriptions in the days to come, such as Glu Mobile’s Frontline Commando with VIP currency packages. Google already issued client support to most Android devices around the world to allow anyone with Google Play 3.5 to start exploring today. Oh, and it is worth mentioning that Google plans to introduce an HTTP-based publisher API for developers to tinker with when extending access “from their Android apps to their web properties, based on subscriptions that are purchased on Google Play.”