Paperboy 2.0: Using the Cloud to Get Paid for Application and Content Subscriptions

For content and application developers there is more opportunity than ever to monetize subscriptions. The Apple App Store has sparked a revolution in the mobile space generating billions of dollars for Apple and also creating look-alike services from nearly every mobile vendor. In the iPhone OS 3.0, Apple included a “Store Kit”, which allows an application such as a game or a news source to include the ability to offer subscription services.

Additionally, some of the crown jewels of the content industry – The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times – have been exploring the implications of a pay wall for both mobile and Web access to content. The news industry is in the midst of defining where free vs. subscriptions are appropriate. All in all, it’s a complicated issue, but the signs are clear: Not everything will be free, no matter how hard Google tries to make all content available. For the content and apps that individuals want to pay for, Aria Systems is making it easy for companies to manage the connection between their assets and the users who want to access it.

Subscription and Billing in the Cloud

This week, we had a chance to sit down and talk with Ed Sullivan, CEO of Aria Systems to learn more about subscription payment in the cloud, including everything from casual games to enterprise class applications.

It gets complicated for developers implementing such a subscription service to consider all of details with subscription user tracking and revenue recognition. Many of these scenarios require detailed consideration and business logic when implementing that can take time away from the core offering. So, the question becomes: Is there a way a content or application provider get a handle on all of their customers across different channels in an easy way through a cloud offering that can be connected to the different form factors that applications are delivered into.

Big or Small Businesses

One benefit for on-demand companies is that they can maximize their back-office functionality with a platform like Aria, which integrates billing, customer management, and marketing tools into a single, on-demand application. In our interview, Sullivan pointed out that Aria plugs into QuickBooks, SalesForce, NetSuite that companies may have deployed today.

Case Study: iPad Subscriptions for Content Providers

One company, Issuu, has already signed on with Aria in order to be ready for subscription revenue management using the iPad. The iPad is a great example where a traditional media provider may want to charge for this form of content or charge the individual for subscription services across form factors.

Although we don’t know who Issuu’s customers are and whether a brand like the New York Times is part of the mix, it seems ideal to get news on the iPad and to pay once for Web, mobile, and print versions. Paperboy, please deliver a copy of the Times to our iPad.

As far as cloud applications go, getting paid for consumer subscriptions is an important piece of the fabric for managing customer relationships. Are you a developer who has grappled with these issues before? What do you think about getting this service from the cloud?

Photo credit: curiouslee