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Apple opens in-app subscription discounts to existing users

To retain subscribers, developers can offer discounts to both new and existing app users.
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ymgerman via Getty Images

In a ploy to keep people paying for apps, Apple will let developers offer discounted subscriptions to current and recent subscribers. Until now, developers could only offer freebies and introductory discounts to new users, which means that they couldn't easily incentivize lapsed subscribers to re-join. As more apps turn to subscription models over one-time purchases, this change will likely go over well with developers and users alike.

Apps will be able to use three discount models, allowing customers to access a subscription for free for a specific duration, pay a promotional price each billing period, or pay a one-time promotional price -- Apple already uses such incentives with its own Apple Music subscribers. Developers will also be able to offer up to 10 active offers per subscription to test which work best. This added flexibility will be available with the latest beta versions of iOS 12.2, macOS 10.14.4 and tvOS 12.2, using the StoreKit API. While it's just in beta right now, it seems likely these changes will go live to everyone when these software updates are fully released.

Apple began offering its current app subscription model a few years ago. Apple takes a 30 percent cut of revenue from apps in their first year, but apps that keep customers subscribed for more than a year only have to cough up 15 percent. So, keeping subscribers hooked with these added incentives could prove to be a boon for developers, even if they have to offer discounts in the short term.

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