updated 04:15 pm EST, Tue February 16, 2010
Pubs want Apple to give sub data
Apple's reluctance to hand over subscriber data is a major obstacle to getting magazine publishers on to the iBookstore and the iPad, according to claims by media executives talking to Apple. Where publishers are used to getting age and other demographic info, sources for FT say that Apple's traditional iTunes model only provides sales numbers, cutting publishers off from one of their most trusted outlets for information. The model could not only make it difficult to target ads at a given audience but could prevent incentives for print subscribers, such as giving them the digital version for free.
Publishers have a makeshift workaround in offering native apps that ask customers to sign in and thus identify themselves, but the iBookstore model allows only a user's Apple ID and gives Apple all control over information.
Rival services like Amazon's Kindle store and Barnes & Noble's store include periodical subscriptions, but it's not known how much if any identifying data is given to subscribers. These however have relatively little appeal for magazine publishers as the lack of color, advanced layouts or secondary material are limiting compared to what iBooks and the iPad have promised so far.
Some of the sources also corroborate talk of Apple's Steve Jobs making personal visits to publishers to help get magazines and newspapers onboard, though firms like the New York Times have already pledged support.