Time Inc. is burning up the blogosphere’s rumor mill right now because of their alleged frustrations with Apple who is consistently denying their magazines’ iPad apps because of the subscription services built into them. Apple, thus far, will allow publishers to download and pay for titles directly within an application, which is convenient, but the rub is that you can only sell individual editions and it is required that you use iTunes to make the transaction. This, in turn, gives Apple a healthy chunk of each sale and all the coveted user data.
Subscriptions are vitally important to newspaper and magazine pubs, two industries in the infancy stages of digital publishing. Along with subscriptions comes recurring revenue, but what may be worth its disk space in gold is the compilation of data that can compose a finely-tuned advertising program, because in these publishing industries the real money is in circulation and demographics, not the issue price.
Unfortunately, it seems the only way to collect 100 percent of what publishers need while setting up a subscription service is to go around iTunes all together. With the roll out of our first iPad product just around the corner, this news could have been extremely devastating. However, the key to this first phase (an HTML5 web app) is that we won’t have to submit your publication to Apple for review because it is going to utilize the Safari browser. By going browser first, we can put your content wherever your readers are and give you the ability to collect that valuable data. Steve Jobs doesn’t have to approve of it, but we think our clients will.
We are still very much in communication with publishers who are interested in the branded native apps. We know how popular this delivery model has become and being native on a closed operating system like the iPad does have some advantages. We still fully intend on rolling out application products in the near future because many of our loyal clients have stepped forward and showed enthusiasm. (Our hope is that by then, this hang up with subscription management will be a thing of the past.) If you do have have an interest in a native app, please be sure to let your Account Rep know as soon as possible. In the meantime we hope you will enjoy our Web Apps, and your publishing freedom.