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Apple blocks Time, others from running iPad subscriptions

updated 10:55 am EDT, Wed July 28, 2010

May be hampering iPad publishing industry

Apple is currently preventing publishers from enabling subscriptions for iPad magazines, say several sources. Time, for example, is claimed to have wanted to put out a subscription version of the Sports Illustrated app last month, in which people would be able download issues via iTunes, but pay Time directly. Apple rejected this at the last minute, Time executives say, even though they had been in touch with Apple during spring development, and been assured that the company was alright with the plan. Time was forced to sell only individual issues.

The publisher's management has allegedly been "going nuts" since the SI debacle, trying to figure out how it can get Apple to allow subscriptions. At one point it was suggested that the company just pull all of its apps out of the App Store, but this was rejected. No other publisher has had success in enabling subscriptions either.

Hearst says it's getting around the problem by selling a bundle of magazines as a one-time purchase, with 30 percent of the revenue going to Apple as usual. Conde Nast is officially expected to have more to say about subscriptions within a month, but off the record, people in the company are described as stumped. "Don't get me started," one executive is quoted as saying.

Why Apple would reject subscriptions isn't known, but it's speculated that the company may be worried about how publishers would use the consumer data collected with each subscription, even though such collection is standard in the print world. Apple might alternately be worried about missed revenue opportunities, since allowing direct payment for subscriptions would cut the company out of some or a lot of income. The latter approach would be incongruous though, since Amazon and the Wall Street Journal can already bill customers directly in some cases.

Time says it hopes to offer in-app subscriptions "some time later this year." Apple's public response to the complaints has only involved pointing out HTML5 as an alternative. "We have two platforms that we support for apps of all types, including magazines: HTML5 provides an open platform for developers to create and distribute whatever they want, and the App Store which is a curated platform offering customers the largest offering of apps for any mobile device with over 225,000 apps and 5 billion downloads," a PR statement reads.






by MacNN Staff

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Comments

  1. Peter Bonte

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +5

    there's subscriptions and subscriptions

    Apple allowed subscriptions to be payed outside the iTunes ecosystem if it all happens on a external site and the iTunes app is merely a reader, it's a totally different case if the iTunes app is the starting point to get a the subscription. If Time and others want to use iTunes for recruiting costumers then they need to pay the price.

  1. cmoney

    Joined: Dec 1969

    -7

    Apple's response =

    a little kid saying, "I'm taking my ball and going home."

  1. JuanGuapo

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +6

    Me thinks....

    The magazine companies are trying to get out of paying Apple a single cent.

  1. Arty50

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +2

    WSJ

    The Wall Street Journal app allows you to read your online subscription. In that case, they're hosting their own content and merely routing it through the app.

    SI, CondeNast, etc. should learn to do the same. If you want Apple to host your content for you though, you'll have to pay the piper. If you don't want to host your own content, then don't complain.

  1. akulavolk

    Joined: Dec 1969

    -2

    Time doesn't want to share

    Time's requested subscription method is bogus. With their real, physical, magazines, you pay a certain price and then you get a certain amount of magazines sent to you within a given date range. One chunk of money for one set of magazines over a period of time.

    Time could do the same thing here. Just sell an app including a one-year subscription of updates. Time and Apple share the money...70%/30% for the whole thing. Customer gets a nice discount over individual magazines. Everyone gets paid.

    What time wants to do instead: have people by one magazine. Time and Apple share the money...70%/30%. Then time makes Apple push additional content to the customer for a full year, while Time takes 100% of the revenue.

    I'm guessing Time expects to print and mail their print editions for free after the customer receives the first one, and keep all the profit?

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +6

    Missed the point

    Of course, all the 'Apple defenders' missed the actual point of the outrage.

    It isn't that Apple isn't allowing subscriptions, or isn't allowing subscriptions because they're pushing content but not getting paid.

    What they're upset with is that they've spent the last several months working on this project, confirming with Apple along the way that it was good to go, and then, when it's ready, Apple pulls the ol' double-switch and says "Oops, we changed our minds."

    I'm glad all you out there are so flush with cash that you can spend a bunch on developing a project for a platform, one in which you got the OK from while working on it, only to have them say "Sorry, sucker, you should have saved the time and just set your money on fire!"

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +1

    Re: WSJ

    The Wall Street Journal app allows you to read your online subscription. In that case, they're hosting their own content and merely routing it through the app.

    Except you're talking about an online subscription. Who gives a c*** about that, since you can read that in Safari and don't need an app in the first place. Plus, it only works with a network connection, so how do you go "Let me read that while on this plane."?


    SI, CondeNast, etc. should learn to do the same. If you want Apple to host your content for you though, you'll have to pay the piper. If you don't want to host your own content, then don't complain.


    Or maybe Apple should have given this more thought before touting the iPad as this great magazine savior.

    However, shouldn't the apps be able to download said content via the application directly from the magazine servers? Say, each day there's a large zip file with various PDFs and the like stored behind an authentication server, and the user just connects and the software downloads the new issue and store it in the app's data area? Like how Stanza downloads books from various sites?

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969

    -1

    Re: Time doesn't want to share

    What time wants to do instead: have people by one magazine. Time and Apple share the money...70%/30%. Then time makes Apple push additional content to the customer for a full year, while Time takes 100% of the revenue.

    And shouldn't Apple pay Time some money for making an app and offering their content for the iPad/iPod/iPhone? After all, does not Apple benefit from the inclusion of various applications and publications?

  1. ilovestevejobs

    Joined: Dec 1969

    -5

    Once again...

    Testudo makes valid, unbiased arguments against the dumb arses that are Apple Fanboys

  1. Titanium Man

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +1

    Subscriptions already exist

    I have several emagazine subscriptions that I read with the Zinio app. Unfortunately, the publishers are being greedy and killing their Zinio editions so they don't have to share revenue. Bonnier pulled Popular Science from Zinio just so they could launch their Popular Science+ app. I'm sure others are working on the same. Their expressed excuse is that their own apps are more "interactive." It's just more useless eye candy.

    By the way, Testudo's "valid, unbiased arguments" are wrong. The WSJ app does indeed allow you to save complete articles for offline reading.

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