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RAIN 2/15: Apple launches subscriptions inside App Store

Posted on: 02/15/2011


Apple today announced the roll-out of the “long-expected” subscription service for all content-based iPhone apps.

Basically, the plan allows developers to offer subscriptions in Apple’s App Store. So then, webcasters like Pandora and Slacker that offer subscriptions could do so directly within the App Store — essentially bundling the cost of a subscription directly into users’ already set-up App Store accounts.

“Publishers set the price and length of subscription [weekly, monthly, yearly, etc.]…Then with one-click, customers pick the length of subscription and are automatically charged based on their chosen length of commitment,” explains Apple.

The service was eagerly anticipated by magazine and newspaper publishers, but also could serve to benefit webcasters.

Slacker has shown that bundling subscription costs in this way helps convert more free users into paying users. They offer some users the ability to bundle their Slacker subscription into monthly cellphone bills (RAIN coverage here).

Services can offer subscriptions in the App Store and externally (on their own website, for example). However, Apple takes a 30% cut of all subscriptions made in the App Store. You can read Apple’s press release here.


In a letter to Radio Ink editor Ed Ryan, the head of a local radio industry group says it’ll be “suckers” who invest in Pandora, a service better suited to those looking for “musical background with no interaction required.”

Mary Beth Garber is president of the Southern California Broadcasters Association. She reasons that it will take upwards of 20 years before half of the cars on the road are Internet-ready — and that’s if half of the cars rolling off the assembly line today came with in-dash Internet (which of course they don’t).

Garber also insists that local radio’s “on air personalities and localized references and information” not only can’t be replicated by Pandora and its ilk, but that “fresh, localized dialogue… , locally selected music and promotions and on air references and comments by local listeners,” trumps Pandora’s obvious strengths in the areas of musical breadth, personalization, and discovery.

Read her letter to Radio Ink here.


The Webby is an Android-powered desktop gadget — similar to a Chumby (RAIN coverage here and here). Like the Chumby, Webby from Avantis sports plenty of Internet radio streams alongside a DMB tuner. Engadget has more details here.

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  1. I think Ed Ryan’s statement and reasoning sounds like the case of drinking one’s own coolaid. It assumes linear decline of Broadcast, but one could argue it is exponential. At the start of a graph curve exponential very much looks like linear as well, that was how industrial age was starting too. Might be very surprised in next 5-10 years.

    As for “suckers” comment, the old quote comes to mind: “First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.”

    I don’t want to defend Pandora here, as I have my separate reasons of why it may not be a good long term investment. And I am also biased as being involved in pureplay industry. But I thought the whole post felt arrogant.

    Ari Shohat · Feb 15, 08:27 AM · #

  2. Ted, yes sorry, I really meant Mary Beth Barber.

    Ari Shohat · Feb 21, 07:57 AM · #

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