Is Apple relaxing its policy on magazine subscriptions?
Is Apple relaxing its policy on magazine subscriptions?
Written by Sue Gee   
Tuesday, 03 May 2011

Time Inc. has secured a deal that will bundle free iPad access to print subscribers its Time, Sports Illustrated and Fortune magazines.Does this signal Apple relaxing its policy refusing to allow iPad access to be bundled with print subscriptions?

As of  Monday subscribers to the print editions of Sports Illustrated, Time and Fortune magazines will be able to access the iPad editions using their existing subscriber details. The exact details of the deal are not yet known and neither is it clear whether similar concessions on the part of Apple will be extended to other publishers. 



Although much of the standoff between Apple and publishers is about revenue, with publishers complaining that Apple wants too great a share, it is also about data. The name, email and ZIP code details Apple was prepared to provide was considered insufficient demographics for the targeting advertising that Time and others want to pursue. Equally publishers were unwilling to hand over their valuable subscriber data.

On Slashgear Chris Davies writes:

Time's new arrangement is unlikely to have addressed that data hurdle – the print subscribers now logging in free to the digital magazine apps have already given their information to the publisher after all – but it seems likely that some sort of revenue sharing agreement has been inked, with Apple getting a cut of what Time makes from repeat readers.

However this is only the initial step towards a deal that will please periodical publishers.

As Russell Adams of The Wall Street Journal explains:

Time Inc. and other major publishers have yet to agree with Apple on terms for selling subscriptions to their iPad editions, the next step beyond making them available to existing print subscribers. Talks are hung up on Apple's resistance to sharing information with publishers about their iPad customers, which publishers say is critical to applying the "TV everywhere" model to magazines.

The standoff has left most magazines with only one way to sell titles on the iPad: one issue at a time, which publishers say is asking too much of readers, particularly of the weekly magazines that form the core of Time Inc.'s business.

So does Apple have to back off to allow the platform to prosper or is it just a matter of getting the profit one way or another? Certainly subscriptions are more valuable than selling one issue at a time.

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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 03 May 2011 )

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