Guardian app relaunches with subscription fees, ad support

The Guardian has relaunched its news app for iPhone with an eye towards running its business.  The Guiardian for iPhone 2.0 is now ad-supported in the United States, but in the United Kingdom, it interestingly utilizes Apple's in-app purchase system to charge a regular subscription fee.

The refreshed news app "now forms a major part of the way we deliver content to our mobile audience," the paper said in an unsigned column explaining the changes. The Guardian reaffirmed its commitment to providing content for free on guardian.co.uk and its mobile site, but admitted that "in order to deliver the highest quality product for a single (iPhone) platform, considerable investment is required."

The Guardian's original app was a paid download—$4 in the United States and £2.39 in the U.K.—while the new version is free to download around the world. U.S. readers will now see advertisements with their news, but British readers must pay £2.99 for 6 months and £3.99 for 12 months. As MacStories points out, American readers comprise just 8 percent of the app's downloads.

Notably, the app's subscription will be sold as an in-app purchase; UK users will have to click on a green "Subscribe" button after downloading the app. American magazine publishers have been vocal about their inability to to get Apple to approve iPad subscription plans that let them take direct payments or grant them access to a subscriber's demographic data. However, so far, there is no word on when the subscription option will arrive for U.S. readers.

The newspaper said the upgraded app will include faster, automatic updates for its live news and sports blogs, as well as inclusion of the Guardian's video content. Readers will be able to view stories in landscape mode for the first time, and the search function has also been greatly upgraded, developers said.

Users of the first-generation Guardian app will have to manually download The Guardian for iPhone 2.0 from the App Store. The new version does not show up as an update to the original, though users will be notified when the original version is "switched off" at some unspecified future date. Readers who customized their preferred headlines within the original app will have to repeat the process with new download. The Guardian app is compatible with any device running iOS 3.0 or later.

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