It seems Apple isn’t going to be alone in offering a better deal to developers of subscription-based apps. The same day Phil Schiller revealed that developers will receive 85% of subscription revenue from year two, Re/code reports (and TNW confirms) that Google will be offering the same deal to Android developers – but with one big difference …
Now Google plans to up the ante at its app store: It will also move from a 70/30 split to 85/15 for subscriptions — but instead of requiring developers to hook a subscriber for 12 months [as Apple does] before offering the better split, it will make it available right away.
It’s not yet known when Google will introduce the new revenue split, but it is reported to have already tested it with some entertainment companies.
Meantime, Daring Fireball has raised some interesting questions about exactly how Apple’s deal will work. For example, while many app developers would like to switch to a subscription model to fund regular updates, it’s not clear whether Apple’s rules allow this.
In a sidebar titled “Types of Auto-Renewable Subscriptions”, Apple lists only two, “Content” and “Services”:
Content: Provide paid access to content that is updated or delivered on a regular basis, such as newspapers, educational courses, or audio or video libraries.
Services: Provide paid access to an ongoing service within your app, such as cloud storage or massive multiplayer online games (MMOGs).
Professional apps that require “a lot of maintenance of new features and versions” don’t fit either of those categories. Would Twitter clients like Tweetbot and Twitterrific qualify for subscription pricing? After talking to Schiller yesterday, I thought so. Now, I don’t know. Developers are definitely confused.
Additionally, can an app require a subscription to offer any functionality at all, or is it like in-app purchases, where the app is required to provide some degree of usability without charge?
Hopefully these are issues that will be clarified at WWDC.