The Guardian's new iPhone app sold 9000 units in its first two days, in a development that may point to a key future source of revenue for newspapers.
The app was launched on Monday, and it was uncertain whether or not consumers could be prepared to pay the £2.39 asking price. Many news apps are free, including those offered by The Telegraph, The Financial Times, Thomson Reuters, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and USA Today.
The price of one app doesn't sound like a lot of money in revenue, but at 9000 downloads, even after Apple takes a 30% commission, sales from the two days total £15,057.
This isn't an exact figure, as Paid Content points out, because the app costs $3.99 in the U.S. and €2.99 in Ireland. And what's more, this is a figure for sales, not profit, and doesn't take into account research and development costs for the application.
It's worth remembering the economic context, as well: The Guardian ran at a loss of £36.8 million last year. It may have only been two days, but so far, app revenue is a drop in the ocean. And this application is itself a drop in another ocean: September figures showed that an average of 6.3 million applications are downloaded from the Apple app store every day.
And users of free apps aren't exactly getting something for nothing. Free news applications are often supported by advertising, a different way for those who produce them to generate revenue.
The Guardian has previously ruled out charging for news on its website, both the standard and mobile versions. The mobile application, though, is a different story. And it has also proposed plans for a readers' club, another revenue stream for the paper which may offer access to exclusive online content and special events.
Paid Content, which is owned by The Guardian, reported that the app had received positive reviews.
The market for mobile applications is still relatively small. This is an early indication that in this context, charging for content just might work.
Source: Paid Content