As scrutiny on the App Store continues, an interesting element has appeared in the documentation. Developers will soon be able to provide “Offer Codes” to users withing Apple’s ecosystem.

Offer Codes Give More Flexibility…

The documentation says:

Offer codes can help you acquire, retain, and win back subscribers, as well as give existing subscribers opportunities to upgrade or crossgrade to a new subscription within the same subscription group. You can distribute these unique, one-time codes however you choose using online and offline channels. For example, you might provide offer codes through email, give them out at events, or provide them alongside a physical product.

As we know, at the moment there may be an introductory price/free offer with subscriptions through the App Store, but after that, the price is the price. No limited-time offers, not specials to tempt back departed subscribers. It is one of the reasons some service providers, particularly in the publishing space, are looking for ways to bypass Apple, and particularly Apple News.

…But You Still Pay the Apple Tax

Of course, while Offer Codes may help some providers get more sign-ups, it doesn’t actually help them avoid paying the 15-30% cut Apple tax from in-app purchases. As Rob Williams noted in his recent Media Post column:

The major drawback from app subscriptions is the hefty fee that Apple charges on transactions processed through the App Store. The company collects a 30% commission on the first year of an app-based subscription, and 15% a year after that. Publishers have to decide whether it is worthwhile to accept those fees for the sake of providing readers with an in-app experience instead of directing them to the mobile web — where they don’t have to pay the “Apple tax.”

As Mr. Williams also notes, it is still going to be preferable for publishers to drive people to their own website and pay there, However, the increased flexibility of Offer Codes is surely a positive step forward for publishers, and subscription providers of all kind.

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