Guardian to charge for iPad app from Friday, are you paying?
From Friday, The Guardian will begin charging its 280,000 active iPad users £9.99 a month to use its iPad app. It is going to be a big moment for the Guardian, a test of paid content, while it continues to maintain a rich free website.
Since its launch in October The Guardian iPad has been free, by way of a sponsorship deal with Channel 4, but now those three months of free access are up the question is how many of those readers will pay?
One of the issues the Guardian will be looking at closely is how high a price point £9.99 is when most of what is on the app and more (there are no blogs on the app) is on the web and so accessible for free.
At the launch Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger said that Guardian journalists would “not be scrambling to update it every minute or hour, we’ll do that on the browser” which will be the place for readers to view live blogging. The app will be a “different type of read, more reflective”, he said.
According to Paidcontent, Guardian News & Media claims 500,000 downloads since launch, but the real number of users is half that – the app had 280,000 active users in December.
What the Guardian will be hoping for is something like the conversion that it achieved with the Guardian’s iPhone app. That was downloaded more than 400,000 times in the six months since launch with around 17% becoming paying subscribers. That is a high number, but with a low price to entice so many.
An annual subscription to its iPhone app costs just £4.99 for a year or £2.99 for six months and of the 403,388 global downloads 67,258 went on to subscribe.
With a price far in excess of the top price of its iPhone app it seems fair to guess that it the Guardian has no hope of getting anything like those kinds of numbers and no way of achieving such a high conversion rate of 17%.
Subscription rates are bound to be in single figures although I wouldn’t like to hazard a guess at how single they might be. Five to seven per cent would be good though.
What seems clear (ish) is that pursuing a twin track policy of paid apps and free web content makes it hard for many consumers to justify paying for an iPad app when much of the content is free on the web. Unless they are of an inordinately reflective mind.
I could be wrong, but tell me if you have downloaded the iPad app do you have any attention of subscribing?