Ina Fried

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Game On! Google Adds In-App Subscriptions to Android.

Android app developers now have one more business model to consider.

Google said on Thursday it is adding support for in-app subscriptions, allowing apps or services within apps that are paid for on a monthly or annual basis. The subscriptions will be auto-renewing unless a customer chooses to stop them.

“Developers just set the price and billing interval and Google Play manages the purchase transactions for them, just as it does for other in-app products and app purchases,” Google Play product manager Ibrahim Elbouchikhi said in a blog post.

The move comes roughly a year after Google added in-app payments. Google says that 23 of the top 24 grossing Android apps use in-app payments and that revenue from in-app payments exceeds that generated from paid downloads. Google has also added support for carrier billing in a number of markets.

Game makers have been among the most aggressive adopters of in-app payments and are expected to be among those that gravitate to subscriptions as well, though the option will be for any Android app.

One of the first companies to adopt the new subscriptions will be Glu Mobile, which plans to offer a virtual currency that can be used across a number of its games, including Frontline Commando.

Glu senior VP Adam Flanders said subscriptions, which it already offers via Amazon, boost the value and experience for customers, while also boosting retention of those customers.

Also planning to use the new feature is music site Qello, which will start offering an “all-access pass” to its library of concerts and documentaries to its Android app. The company already offers that option on iOS and the Web.

Google said that, for developers already using in app payments, the move to add subscriptions will involve adding just a few lines of code.

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There’s a lot of attention and PR around Marissa, but their product lineup just kind of blows.

— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google