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Introductory app subscription pricing coming to App Store

Apple on Monday announced a new App Store feature that allows developers to offer discounted introductory pricing or limited-time free trials on auto-renewable app subscriptions, a move designed to help subscription-based apps draw in new customers.

Announced in a post to Apple's Developer News webpage, the feature lets developers boost engagement by offering one of three new introductory price types — pay as you go, pay up front and free trial — to customers.

With pay as you go pricing, new subscribers are offered an introductory price each billing period for a set duration before being transferred over to a full-price subscription. For example, customers might pay $1.99 per month for 3 months, then shift to a standard price of $9.99 per month.

Available durations are broken down by the length of a given subscription:

  • 1 Week subscription, 1 to 12 Weeks
  • 1 Month subscription, 1 to 12 Months
  • 2 Month subscription, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 and 12 Months
  • 3 Month subscription, 3, 6, 9 and 12 Months
  • 6 Month subscription, 6 and 12 Months
  • 1 Year subscription, 1 Year

Pay up front presents an extended introductory rate experience by providing new subscribers the option of paying a one-time discounted price for a preset duration, for example $9.99 for 6 months for a subscription that normally sells for $39.99 per year.

Durations for pay up front pricing are set at 1, 2, 3 and 6 months or 1 year.

Finally, the free trial option offers new subscribers access to a given subscription service for a set period of time. Customers can later transfer to a paid subscription if they find the content or app valuable. Apple itself uses an identical plan to push its Apple Music streaming music service.

Developers can offer free trials of 3 days, 1 week, 2 weeks, 1 month, 2 months, 3 months, 6 months or 1 year.

Apple notes customers are limited to one price type per subscription, per territory.

Developers can activate and manage introductory price settings in iTunes Connect, but they must first implement new iOS 11.2 StoreKit APIs in their respective apps. In addition to adding support for introductory pricing, the APIs also localize and display discounted pricing details to users.

As part of the plan, developers keep 70 percent of the subscription price, minus applicable taxes, when a subscriber has less than one year of continuous paid service for a given auto-renewable subscription. That figure jumps to 85 percent once a customer completes one year of paid service.

The change in subscription pricing arrives alongside Apple's opening of app pre-orders to all developers, a feature that allows app makers to advertise their wares on the App Store prior to release. Apple first experimented with App Store pre-orders when Nintendo launched Super Mario Run last year.