Google Play adds support for Android in-app subscriptions

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Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is adding in-app subscription support to its Google Play multimedia storefront, giving Android developers a new channel to monetize their applications, games and multimedia content.

Android Subscription - Glu Mobile

Users can manage multiple subscriptions and auto-renew content.

Google Play is introducing both monthly or annual subscription options. Both are offered on an auto-renewing basis--Android developers set the price and billing interval, and Google Play manages all purchase transactions on their behalf, just as it does other in-app products and purchases. Developers can offer subscriptions to dynamic content like journals and magazines as well as bundled products, game levels, music and video, value-added services and any other digital content. 

Google states that in-app subscriptions can leverage Google Play's cloud storage capabilities, enabling developers to make premium content available to consumers across multiple properties, services or campaigns. "To make this easier, we're introducing an HTTP-based publisher API through which enterprise-scale backend servers can validate or cancel subscriptions," Google Play Product Manager Ibrahim Elbouchikhi writes on the Android Developers Blog. "Using this API, for example, developers can extend access from their Android apps to their web properties, based on subscriptions that are purchased on Google Play."

Google adds it has already rolled out client support for in-app subscriptions to most Android devices worldwide, and all users with Google Play 3.5 or higher installed on their phone or tablet can begin purchasing subscriptions today. Google Play notifies consumers of all subscription and recurring billing details before continuing with the transaction, and sends them an email alert with each new renewal. Consumers may also visit the store's My Apps portal to manage and cancel any subscriptions.

Google first launched in-app purchase capabilities on Google Play (then Android Market) in March 2011, enabling developers to add options like try-before you-buy, virtual goods and upgrades. "Today, 23 of the 24 top-grossing apps in Google Play use in-app billing, and the total revenue generated from in-app purchases exceeds revenue from traditional app purchases," Elbouchikhi notes.

Despite the introduction of in-app billing capabilities and other monetization tools, Google Play has consistently struggled to drive developer profits on par with Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) App Store. For example, mobile gamers who play on iOS devices spend five times more than their Android counterparts, according to a study published earlier this month by market research firm Newzoo.

"When analyzing Apple's successful monetization, there is one dominant factor outside of differences in audience demographics and preferences: Apple requires users to connect their credit card information directly to their account, thus creating a seamless purchase experience," said Newzoo CEO Peter Warman. "I can hardly imagine any other company in the world that would be able to get away with this, including Google and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT)."

For more:
- read this Android Developers Blog entry

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