Apple Adds Subscription Discounts to iOS 12

February 21st, 2019

Apple Adds Subscription Discounts to iOS 12
David Bell

by David Bell

CEO at Gummicube, Inc.

When developers offer an introductory discount or free trial, it’s typically a one-time deal. That’s about to change with a new update to iOS 12. Developers will now be able to offer discounts and deals on their subscription services, which may prove beneficial for their App Store Optimization.

Subscription Discounts

The latest update enables developers to offer discounts on subscription services for new and existing users. Typically, developers can offer introductory discounts or free trials, but once those expired, the price would return to the default and could not be changed again. If a user uninstalled the app then later decided to try it again, they’d still have to pay the full price, having previously used the one-time offer.

Following the update, developers can now present price discounts whenever they deem appropriate. The discounts can be in the form of a free period, a bundle price for a longer duration, or just a limited time discount. This can be used in a number of ways to improve user retention.

For instance, an app could offer a discounted price or a free month for a user about to cancel their subscription to incentivize them to stay. If the price point is causing a user to rethink their subscriptions, a discount can make the difference between retention and loss – an app still makes more from a user with a discount than from losing a user.

Subscription apps do typically offer discounted prices for longer subscriptions; one will often see an app saying something along the lines of “You can subscribe for $0.99 a month or $10 a year” to encourage lengthier subscriptions. This incentivizes users to commit for a longer time using the app, and ensures the app still makes money even if the users stop using it within the year. Now developers have more options to encourage users to subscribe and maintain subscriptions.

How This Impacts ASO

There are a number of ways offering subscription discounts can help with an app’s ASO. One major use is keeping the uninstallation rate low – incentivizing users to maintain their subscription, even at a discounted price, may prevent them from uninstalling it. An app’s ranking within the App Store can decrease when enough users uninstall it, so offering a temporarily lower price to retain users pays off for the app in many ways.

Offering bundle deals and discounts can also encourage users to convert. Sales incentivize purchases, so a limited time discount on a subscription could encourage a user who was on the fence about installing the app to take the plunge. They can also be offered as part of a holiday sale, such as Black Friday, to take advantage of the shopping spree as users search for deals. This can improve sessions via users who unsubscribed but didn’t uninstall, then found the discount enough reason to start the app up again.

Developers can also provide up to 20 customized Display Names, Descriptions and App Store Promotional Images for their In-App Purchases and subscriptions via App Store Connect. Since these show up on the Product Page view and may appear in search results, showing the latest and greatest information on how a trial or discount works may help convert users from the App Store to becoming a subscriber.


This update may only impact apps that offer subscription services, but it is a small change that can have a big impact. Being able to offer a variety of discounts and offers can encourage users to convert and remain, which can benefit an app’s rankings within the App Store. Developers whose apps offer subscriptions should begin looking into ways to utilize this update and use the discount options to bring in and retain users.

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