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Apple agreeing to give subscriber info for iPad magazines?

updated 09:30 am EST, Mon March 1, 2010

Jobs said bowing to pressure to get mags onboard

Apple may be agreeing to give out subscriber info to get magazines in the iBookstore and on the iPad, a rumor on the latest episode of TWiT suggests. Controversial Mahalo head Jason Calacanis heard from a "major publisher" that Apple CEO Steve Jobs has acquiesced to giving out an unspecified amount of customer data after the publisher refused to offer subscription content without circulation info. It's not known if any other publishers put down a similar ultimatum.

Few other details are available, and the rumor contains a level of doubt. Calacanis has a mixed track record on rumors and made a joke iPad leak in late January that even some major publications falsely interpreted as fact. Here, however, he made it clear he was serious, and leaks from Jobs' recent meetings with New York City publishers have been commonplace.

Apple doesn't comment on rumors.

Magazine and newspaper publishers have often been hesitant to move to a non-web digital form as they are heavily dependent on targeted ads as a source of revenue. Without demographics, the companies can't skew ads towards a title's key audience. Apple wouldn't likely have all the same information that publishers get from print customers but would have the unique advantage of anonymous information on what apps and media iTunes customers are downloading and thus get a sense for their overall tastes.

A lack of this data is believed to have hurt the chances of e-book store operators like Amazon and Sony as only a handful of companies have agreed to offer their subscription material. Devices like the Kindle and Reader Daily Edition don't have displays capable of supporting color and lack support for complex apps that could handle dynamic or even video ads, giving them much less incentive to develop for these platforms. The iPad's choice of ePub allows color photo and video content, and its support for native third-party software is already expected to see native apps from Conde Nast and the New York Times.

by MacNN Staff



  1. Feathers

    Joined: Dec 1969



    When I buy a print magazine in a store, the publisher gets zero information about me and the adverts in my magazine are exactly the same as those in the copy bought by the next guy, they aren't skewed. This argument from publishers has nothing to do with how things are but rather how they would like them to be ie: an version of privacy akin to *uckerberg's version of privacy on Facebook. This is getting more and more dangerous by the day. Can a corporation like News International be trusted with any personal information and that they won't pass it on to third parties? I don't think so.

  1. balanced

    Joined: Dec 1969


    on Calacanis

    Of all the tools in the tech toolbox, Calacanis is the largest.

  1. Zaren

    Joined: Dec 1969


    There's a difference, though

    Well, two differences, actually...

    The first is that if you're buying a magazine in a store, you're by definition not a subscriber. They don't know who you are, so they have to cast a wider net with their advertisements in the hopes that there will be something there that interests you. If you are a subscriber, then they have personal information about you - even if it's as little as name and address - that can be valuable to advertisers.

    Second, there's the fact that buying a dead tree copy means that there's no way to fine-tune the ads. If they're selling you a fully digital copy, then it's (in theory, at least) possible to tailor the ads to suit the demographics of the subscriber. Again, even if the info that's shared is no more than name and address, this could be an advantage - I live in Michigan, so an ad for Jack In The Box or In-n-Out would be a waste of bandwidth and page space, but an ad for Steak n Shake or some other chain that does have a presence here would be a good investment.

  1. very

    Joined: Dec 1969


    No one should trust Jason Calacanis

    Jason Calacanis has been saying a lot of things that don't make any sense at all. Previously he claimed that Apple would be releasing big screen TV. So far only Leo Laporte believed that rumor.

    In addition to that, Calacanis has been spamming Google with his Mahalo links.

    Seriously, take what Calacanis is saying with a boulder of salt.

  1. danviento

    Joined: Dec 1969


    To all you subscription analysts out there...

    I'm willing to sell you my preference data at a rate of $.95/survey question, or for a contract where you buy me an iPad every few years, and I review your title for content and overall appeal.

    You know there are plenty of people out there like me...

  1. loudpedal

    Joined: Dec 1969



    This may or may not be true but it sure sounds like a rumor designed to quash iPad sales.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: True?

    How is it designed to quash iPad sales? Do you really think there are that many people out there going "OMG! My info might go to the publisher! Well, s**** that, I'm not getting an iPad!"

    More likely it would be "s**** that, I'm not subscribing to that magazine". But that's doubtful to say the least, since most people already know their information goes to the magazine when you subscribe to the paper version. Why should the digital be any different?

    And if you don't want your information shared, fine. Don't subscribe and pay list price for each issue, like you would at the bookstore.

  1. Salsa

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Newsstand Data and Targeted Ads

    When you buy a single issue magazine at a store, the publisher does get info. He know the location of the purchase. Ads are often sold on a regional basis, so the ad you see may well be different than the ads you would get if you bought from another part of the country.

    I think a fair compromise is to allow people to keep 100% privacy if they pay the single issue price, but give people the option to get a discounted price for providing some limited data that they would have given anyway for a subscription, such as a mailing address.

  1. charlituna

    Joined: Dec 1969


    let us pick

    Publishers want demo info. Apple wants to protect our privacy.

    Apple agrees to put in a demo profile in our Apple ID info. Each line has an "decline to say" so we pick what is said.

    Our names, etc are not released.

    So lets say that I decide what the heck, I don't care if folks know that I"m a white female in Los Angeles that subscribed to Gourmet mag for my ipad. So I check off the info on Race, Gender, Location. I don't answer on sexuality, career or salary so they get 'declined to give' on those.

    Same thing I do when I subscribe to the 'dead tree'.

  1. Salsa

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Privacy and Dead Tree Mags

    How much privacy do you have when you subscribe to a magazine and have it snail mailed to your house? They have at least your address and probably your credit card info too. It would be hard to imagine the publishers accepting substantially less info than they get already.

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