Maker of popular iPhone app Facetune looks to prove that subscription model can work


The original version of the digital facelift tool was a one-time purchase.

The app Facetune became a hit by allowing iPhone owners to improve their selfies with softer skin and more glowing cheeks.

Now, Facetune is hoping to make its own alteration. With a new version being released on Friday, creator Lightricks is looking to shift the products from a one-time purchase to a subscription service.

“There is only so much innovation you can cram inside a one time $4 purchase,” Lightricks co-founder Itai Tsaddon told Recode. “In order to create serious software companies on mobile, recurrent monetization is really a must.”

Historically this has been done mostly via in-app purchases, but subscriptions offer the potential for more steady and predictable income

“We’ve been thinking subscriptions are the right way to go for the App Store for a while,” Tsiddon said.

But Apple added extra incentive in June, when. it announced developers can get a higher share of revenue on subscriptions, provided they keep customers longer than a year.

“We were proud to participate in their announcements back in June, and we’re proud to be one of the first new ones out the door,” Tsiddon said.

Those who aren’t ready to commit to a subscription won’t be left out entirely with Facetune 2. Isreal-based Lightricks plans to offer much of the functionality from the original Facetune for free, with specific additional tools also available as one-time purchases.

“What they’re buying with subscriptions are an order of magnitude more than what was available in the legacy, one-time purchase product,” Tsiddon said.

FaceTune was no slouch even as a paid download. The app was the No. 1 paid app in more than 120 countries and there were more than 7 million paid downloads in all. Lightricks said its revenue from FaceTune and Enlight (another photo-editing app which aims to be the mobile rival to Adobe’s Photoshop) has reached a $10 million per year revenue run rate — not counting Apple’s cut.

Enlight is another likely candidate for a shift to subscriptions.

“Assuming users are receptive, we would very much like to continue to expand our tools offerings – to continue creating additional tools, tailored for specific creativity use cases/verticals,” Tsiddon said. “It will be exciting to figure out if there’s a place for a real mobile-first creativity tools company.”

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