Looking to retain App Store developers ahead of the DMA, Apple begins 'contingent pricing' pilot

Apple is moving to make the App Store more appealing to developers before the upcoming deadline to comply with the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA), which offers developers the ability to distribute apps through their own channels for the first time. In an effort to retain developers, Apple has begun its pilot tests of “contingent pricing,” a new way for them to market App Store subscriptions, TechCrunch has learned.

The feature, which Apple first announced last month, offers customers a discounted subscription as long as they’re actively subscribed to another subscription from either the same developers or two different developers. For individual developers who use it themselves, it would serve as a way to upsell to their existing, loyal customers by offering them a deal on another app in their portfolio.

Alternately, two developers could use the option to attract customers to their respective subscriptions — something that might make sense if the two apps offered integrations with one another or complemented each other in some way.

That’s the case with the debut pilot test of contingent pricing that pairs up two apps: Structured and one sec. The former is a daily planner offering a visual calendar and to-do list, while the latter is a productivity app aimed at breaking users’ social media habits by forcing them to pause before loading addictive apps. (An interesting choice for the pilot, given Apple and Meta’s ongoing beef over App Tracking Transparency, which Meta said harmed its business!)

Image Credits: Structured via the App Store

For the tests, Apple chose the pairing, but both companies had been working together for a long time. In Structured, users can opt to block distracting apps during their unfinished tasks by leveraging one sec’s functionality. In addition, the apps’ founders, Frederik Riedel (one sec) and Leo Mehlig (Structured) had both received a scholarship to attend Apple’s developer conference, WWDC.

With contingent pricing, customers who subscribe to one of the apps can receive a discount if subscribing to the other. This deal is marketed in the App Store’s “Events & Offers” section, where it will feature the new, lower price ahead of the current subscription price, which is crossed out. This is followed by a note about the savings (e.g., “You are saving as Structured — Daily Planner Subscriber”).

Image Credits: one sec via the App Store

The deal is advertised on the product pages of both apps, but Apple is also planning to market the discounts through separate placements in the App Store. The developers choose to advertise the offer on their own social media or websites, as well.

The pilot was launched on Thursday with these two apps, so it’s too soon to know if such offers will aid in conversions. However, it’s likely that a smart pairing where apps are integrated, as in this case, could do well. Apple says it helps the developers with the implementation of contingent pricing to make the redemption process “seamless” for customers purchasing through its App Store.

The pilot test’s launch follows Apple’s announcement this week of a slate of new rules specifically for app developers in the EU, which include reduced commissions, the ability to sideload apps, new security checks, as well as new fees. As a result of the increased competition Apple is sure to face in the EU, the company is in need of more ways to hook developers into staying on its App Store. Offering a program that could help them co-market their apps alongside other developers to increase subscription conversions could have some draw — and could potentially entice developers to stay on the App Store instead of setting up shop elsewhere.

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