updated 10:40 pm EST, Tue March 1, 2011
FT publisher Pearson threatens iPad exit
The Financial Times' publisher Pearson late Monday warned it might leave the iPad and iPhone if it couldn't get reader information. CEO Marjorie Scardino was adamant on an investors' call that Pearson was "still talking" to Apple but was concerned that its iTunes subscription rules wouldn't let her newspaper get demographic information to target ads. If it couldn't get what it wanted, it might jump ship to Android tablets and other platforms where that information was readily available.
"The important thing to remember is there are many, many tablets coming out and multiple devices," Scardino said. "If Apple are not happy to give us customer data then maybe we will get it somewhere else."
Apple has so far allowed a handful of information to go through, such as names and area codes, but is making it a strictly opt-in process that users can decline while still signing up. Publishers have vocally opposed the strategy since it creates a much less complete picture of readers, limited only to eager subscribers who wouldn't necessarily represent the majority of the reader base. Although not mentioned by Pearson's chief during the call, the 30 percent cut has also been contentious for publishers that didn't have the leeway in their business models to cede that much revenue.
The FTC is believed to be investigating Apple's policies for possible anti-competitiveness, mostly over terms that force companies to offer their best deal through iTunes and to prevent them from using any of their existing subscription systems or even acknowledging that they exist in the app.
The FT and other publications, if they refuse to accept Apple terms, are very likely to switch or stick to Android through Google's One Pass system or a method of their own. The approach hands publishers more customer information and also takes a much smaller cut of in-app purchases. They may also get a smaller but equally receptive base through the HP TouchPad. [via The Guardian]