Why Apple's In-App Subscriptions Are Great

There's been a bit of a commotion surrounding Apple's announcement this morning of In-App Subscriptions for “content-based apps” (a term which has yet to be given a formal definition; does Netflix fall under this designation?). The consensus on Hacker News seems to be “What gives Apple the right??”. And from the perspective of a large content-producing company, this is bound to taste a little sour.

Taking a moment to project the possible outcomes of this announcement into the future, however, it seems like this new subscription model could usher in a brand new era of users, once again, paying for the content they consume.

Newspapers and other similar content providers have struggled so far to monetize their content in a subscriber-based fashion in the last decade of the web's dominance. Consumers have not been inclined to pay for content they consume on the web. There has always been a somewhat large barrier for consumers to pay for the content, as it's quite a hassle to sign up and pay for the content (credit cards, billing, etc). But for the majority of iOS users, their primary payment method is already configured and ready to go. They've proven this ten billion times over.

This of course doesn't mean because consumers can purchase content that they will, but it certainly doesn't hurt, either. What needs to catch up now is the quality of the content itself. From what I've seen of “The Daily” so far, the content just isn't that great.

Enter the Indie

This may not turn out to be the panacea Big Media is hoping for to solve their monetization needs, but there's a good chance this can spur lots of independent content producers to keep creating great content, and also make a buck doing so. I've already spoken about this before, and I think it's worth reiterating: if you're an independent writer or journalist of some kind, you'll make peanuts working for Big Media. The new In-App Subscriptions will allow independent content producers to make derive their own money from their own content, on their own terms.

Again, Apple hasn't solved the problem of the consumer who doesn't purchase, but they're enabling those willing customers to subscribe simply and easily. Only time will tell if our content can convince the consumers to do so.

Speed of Light