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The New York Times has finally unveiled its paywall plans , a year-plus in the making. And with the Times’ announcement, Steve Jobs gets his first big publisher to announce it is signing on with his new subscription plan : The Times says it will sell access to the paper’s apps through iTunes, on Jobs’ new terms. That means that the Times will give up 30 percent of every subscription it sells through Apple. And the Times will also lose access to valuable subscriber data for those sales, too. But clearly the Times has decided that it’s better to work with Steve Jobs than to ignore altogether the market he’s created. That doesn’t mean that subscribers who want access to the Times on their iPad or iPhone have to buy access through iTunes, just that they can .
We created subscriptions for publishing apps, not SaaS apps. —email attributed to Steve Jobs There’s been so much confusion in the wake of Apple’s new subscription billing policy for apps that Steve Jobs felt the need to issue the proclamation above via his preferred method, a personal email. (It’s his version of the burning bush).
For the past few weeks, rumors have been flying around the web that Apple might begin asking content providers like Netflix or Amazon for 30% of their subscription and content sale revenue in certain situations. As you would expect, this has created quite a firestorm of outrage among users and pundits alike. While the rumor is mostly true (more on that in a moment), it’s important to understand how Apple handles billing and developer revenue sharing on the App Store to provide some context for the current situation.
In recent weeks, we’ve heard growing concern from magazine and newspaper publishers regarding the challenge of providing content for mobile media while preserving their print franchises. The concern is nothing new, but it’s apparent that content providers are at risk of losing track of their customers like toddlers in a shopping mall. Apple’s iPad success and the imminent release of new application distribution platforms from Google and other software companies threaten another seismic shift for publishers that may have far greater impact on their business models than the growth of free media on the web. Devices like the iPad offer consumers a rich reading experience and offer publishers even more targeted advertising, but the revenue tradeoff as publishers navigate the path from print to this new world is lopsided–and not in a good way.
When Rupert Murdoch’s The Daily launched last week, Apple’s VP Eddy Cue got on stage to announce one-click subscriptions for iPad publications through iTunes. The Daily already has the one-click billing option as a feature, and Cue promised it would be made available to other iPad newspaers and magazines soon. Cue then started to make the rounds of print media companies in New York City to explain how subscription billing will work on the iPad.
Publishers call for access to newspapers on tablets for subscribers without restrictive conditions Share Print Brussels, 7th February, 2011 - The European Newspaper Publishers’ Association (ENPA) today called on technology companies to ensure that newspaper subscribers can continue to enjoy access to news content on tablets and other online services, without any restrictive conditions. Newspaper publishers spoke out following indications by Apple in many European countries that it may bring in new conditions for both online subscribers to newspapers and also for print subscribers, who have until now enjoyed access to their newspaper on iPad.
Ongo is an ambitious digital kiosk. Launched last week, it was founded last year by Alex Kazim , a high-tech executive who worked at Ebay, Skype and PayPal. Kazim lined up an impressive group of investors: Gannett, The New York Times, The Washington Post and the venture capital firm Elevation Partners whose portfolio includes Facebook, Yelp and Palm (now part of HP). Altogether, Ongo raised $12m, an unusually large amount for such a project (marketing activities will consume a large fraction of the company’s funding).
Apple’s upcoming subscription plan is making large publishing companies hysterical. Rightfully so. Some of them built a complete business model for the iPad based on a commercial agreement that is now being revoked. Apple is not only changing the rules, but it does so in the worst possible way — in their usual cold My Way Or The Highway manner.
Photo illustration by The New York Times Since Apple introduced the last year, publishers have poured millions of dollars into apps in the hopes that the device could revolutionize the industry by changing the way magazines are read and sold to consumers. But at the same time, the industry is discovering a lesson already learned by music labels and Hollywood studios: Apple may offer new opportunities with its devices, but it exacts a heavy toll.
The iPad is Great But Remember—It’s Apple’s Way or the Highway - Matt Kinsman - Blogs emedia and TechnologyMagazine publishers are scrambling to be on the iPad and why not? Wired saw 73,000 downloads in the first nine days after its iPad edition launched and editor-in-chief Chris Anderson anticipated iPad downloads beating newsstand sales (which average mid-80,000) in June without cannibalizing print sales. IDG's PCWorld and Macworld went from 600 monthly downloads COMBINED with their digital editions to 8,000 downloads with their iPad version . With the iPad (and the slew of tablets expected to hit the market), publishers have finally found a format online. But getting an app approved can be a frustrating ordeal, especially when publishers find out at the 11th hour that their proposal has been rejected (in what increasingly seems to be arbitrary fashion). Condé Nast famously had to rework its iPad apps when Apple announced that it wouldn't accept Flash.
After being actively courted by Apple CEO Steve Jobs, several magazine publishers have launched digital versions of titles like Wired, Popular Science, Time, and People targeted toward iPad owners. Most of these digital versions include more than just text and pictures—some offer video and audio, others include interactive diagrams. While consumers seem to like the idea of carrying interactive magazines around in one compact device (not unlike the appeal e-books have), they have mostly balked at paying premium prices for each individual issue. Time Inc. has reached a deal with Apple to allow regular print subscribers access to issues for free, but the compromise still leaves room for improvement. Most digital magazines consist of a "container" reader app that offers access to individual issues via in-app purchasing. These typically sell for $3-5 per issue.
As you are probably already aware of, there is a lot of talk about Apple's plans for subscription coupled with a "newsstand" for the iPad. It's bad, really bad. The short story is this. Apple is currently working on a new "App store" called the "newsstand," that will feature apps made specifically within the category of news. This will give companies like the Wall Street Journal, Conde Naste etc. a high-visibility place for them to sell their news papers and magazines via the iPad. It is expected that Apple will announce it in a couple of months, but it is probably not going to launch until the next generation iPad hits the market early next year.