’s iPhone App Could Be A £2 Million-A-Year Business

Okay, that may be getting ahead of ourselves a little… says it’s sold 68,979 copies of its premium iPhone app since launching in December.

At £2.39 a pop in the UK (and $3.99 in U.S.), that’s £164.859 in income over the month, or, at that rate, £1.97 million (about $3.2 million) a year.

But this is before Apple’s 30 percent commission comes off, and ignores currency differences and any future pattern changes – up or down – that may result as the installed base grows and as considers whether to go to other platforms like Android.

There’s plenty of reason to think the monthly rate will increase. Guardian News & Media has only just expanded the app outside of the UK, U.S. and Ireland, in to “most European countries”, Australia and Canada. It launched during the Christmas quiet period and there’s a good-sized appetite for the publisher’s “liberal” news in America.

GNM is content enough to have press-released the figure on Wednesday. In it, digital director Emily Bell, who thinks charging for online news is a “a stupid idea“, declares herself “thrilled”.

No wonder – GNM annual losses grew 40 percent to £36.8 million in 2008/09 and the company has been going through hundreds of redundancies.

But it won’t last forever (the installed base may plateau at some point) and isn’t enough to arrest the decline by itself.

Note – other news apps are available. Over 300,000 downloaded’s free, ad-supported iPhone app between its February 2009 launch and December 2009 – the company says it’s recouped 10 times it development costs.

Disclosure: Our publisher ContentNext is a wholly owned subsidiary of Guardian News & Media.