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Publishers frustrated as Apple blocks iPad subscriptions

post #1 of 102
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Publishers looking to offer subscriptions to digital versions of their magazines on the iPad have been blocked by Apple, as the company has allegedly rejected subscriptions from the App Store without an explanation.

Last month, Time Inc. submitted a subscription version of its Sports Illustrated iPad application to the App Store. Apple, at the last minute, rejected the software, forcing the magazine to sell single copies of the publication, according to Peter Kafka of MediaMemo.

It's not just the publishers who want subscriptions: reviews for magazines like Sports Illustrated are overwhelmingly negative as users are dissatisfied with the $4.99-per-issue price on the App Store. Currently, out of 147 reviews, 97 users have given the magazine's application one star. The average review is two stars.

"Not gonna pay what SI charges per issue," user Russ1409 wrote. "Lower the cost, SI, get behind the new technology, but don't gouge us."

Sources with Time Inc. told Kafka that executives at the company "have been going nuts" in an attempt to get Apple to approve subscription plans. Subscriptions are an important part of the print business model, as they provide recurring revenue and customer data for advertisers.

Time Inc. officials were reportedly surprised by Apple's rejection, as the company made a major effort to reach out to them and others. Officials were reportedly under the impression that subscription plans were acceptable to Apple.

"So what happened?" Kafka wrote. "The Time Inc. insiders I talked to don't have a clear answer, presumably because they cant get one from Apple itself. One theory: Apple is concerned about the publishers plans for the consumer data it would collect with each subscription. A darker one: Steve Jobs loves the idea of digital magazines and wants to control the market for himself."

Some App Store software, such as Amazon's Kindle, or The Wall Street Journal's application, does allow for customers to be charged directly. But other content providers, like The New York Times, have yet to offer digital subscriptions.
post #2 of 102
Just one example does not a trend make.

Btw, hasn't Time heard of Zinio?
post #3 of 102
"allegedly" has never been a confirmation. Why publish it - other than as gossip filler. Subscriptions obviously are allowed through iTunes; so, the likelihood is a lousy app.

Subs are overpriced - which i why I haven't even experimented with them, yet.

Haven't tried Zinio in years; but, current reviews say it sucks as much as ever!
post #4 of 102
A lot of people can't sustain paying $5 a week or month for iPad magazines. A discounted subscription would be great and what everyone is screaming for. This is disappointing. Hopefully this will all get cleared out whatever the issue is for the rejection..
post #5 of 102
It works fine with the Financial Times. On their iPad app, you get 10 free articles per month and beyond that you need a subscription. It is just that this subscription is sold via the FT website, not via the appstore and the that the subscription also applies to their website in general.
post #6 of 102
Most magazines seem to have no digital revenue model at all. Those that do have been walking around blindfolded, trying to pin the tail on the donkey.

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post #7 of 102
I'm sure this is just a matter of Apple taking time to sort out the exact model of it. They probably want to restrict what private details the publishers can get from the consumer, the roll of advertising in the subscriptions (who wants a subscription full of ads?), etc.
post #8 of 102
My original thought is that Steve is trying to strong arm the magazine industry. I don't know why, but I wouldn't be surprised. Perhaps to give people "freedom from subscriptions" (along with their freedom from other things). Just a stab in the dark. Any other guesses?
post #9 of 102
Quote:
Originally Posted by iBoogieBoard View Post

Somehow, I think apple might be preparing it's own newspaper/magazine store to rival the kindle. There is no solid way to get many magazines or newspapers, something I thought should have been in there from the get-go

You would think they would share that with time. Not only a huge magazine publisher, but one apple indicated they worked with when creating the iPad..
post #10 of 102
Quote:
Originally Posted by HyteProsector View Post

My original thought is that Steve is trying to strong arm the magazine industry. I don't know why, but I wouldn't be surprised. Perhaps to give people "freedom from subscriptions" (along with their freedom from other things). Just a stab in the dark. Any other guesses?

: Make sense! But remember people are more concerned with corporation's liberty.
: Yeah!, shouldn't this same apple be Evil?
: Go figure!
post #11 of 102
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

Just one example does not a trend make.

Btw, hasn't Time heard of Zinio?

: Shouldn't Apple protect its customers?
: Shouldn't talk resolve this?
post #12 of 102
I suspect that they'll add it as an option via iBooks.
post #13 of 102
I bought my iPad specifically to read magazines and newspapers on the go. I refuse to pay $5 an issue for Men's Health. Apple promoted magazines on this thing and they better iron it out quick.
post #14 of 102
Quote:
Originally Posted by HyteProsector View Post

My original thought is that Steve is trying to strong arm the magazine industry. I don't know why, but I wouldn't be surprised. Perhaps to give people "freedom from subscriptions" (along with their freedom from other things). Just a stab in the dark. Any other guesses?

If you look through the comments for the magazines already in the app store, people WANT subscriptions and refuse to pay by the issue. Check out the comments for Men's Health.
post #15 of 102
Quote:
Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post

If you look through the comments for the magazines already in the app store, people WANT subscriptions and refuse to pay by the issue. Check out the comments for Men's Health.

What they really want is a cheaper price. They ask for a subscription because that' show you traditionally get a cheaper price. I'm not saying what Apple is currently doing is right ( or even if there's some other purpose for it ), but I just wanted to point out that fact.
post #16 of 102
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

"So what happened?" Kafka wrote. "The Time Inc. insiders I talked to don't have a clear answer, presumably because they cant get one from Apple itself. One theory: Apple is concerned about the publishers plans for the consumer data it would collect with each subscription.

That is probably the correct theory.

A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

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A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

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post #17 of 102
If this is an app store policy it needs some revision. If this is a fluke it needs an apology. Issue cannot be ignored because iPad is nothing without the content the developers and publishers make.

More specifically, magazine publishers are not gonna lower the price without commitment and there needs to be a way to pay once and forget about it for 6 months to a year. I think that is obvious enough with magazines. As commenters pointed out Apple can integrate this with iBooks if they don't want publishers to create their own processing systems, or have the transactions go through app store, and work out some sort of agreement of how much will go to publishers.
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post #18 of 102
Currently there is no refunds for apps, right? But if someone paid for a 12-month sub and for whatever reason only 6 months were delivered, they would naturally come yelling and screaming at Apple.

But adding refunds would create a massive administrative headache for Apple, possibly necessitating hiring large call centres full of people, in multiple languages, when half the point of going digital is to make life more automated and therefore efficient and cheap.

If publishers want to do subs, let them handle that headache through their website and give people who paid a password to type in to the app.
post #19 of 102
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

Just one example does not a trend make.

Btw, hasn't Time heard of Zinio?

According to Zinio, Apple has veto power over the magazines Zinio sells for the iPad.

Apple will not let Zinio sell magazines with nudity on the iPad, for example, even though Zinio will sell a Mac/PC version of Playboy.
post #20 of 102
Quote:
Originally Posted by app_agent01 View Post

I suspect that they'll add it as an option via iBooks.

Bingo! I've been saying this since launch.

Apple have essentially lost out on eBooks because Amazon are already offering the same (or better) product that works across platforms.

If Apple let the magazine publishers do it their own way there is going to be nothing that defines the "Apple experience"... subscribing and reading magazines will be the same on a $499 iPad as it will be on a $99 Android tablet. This is not good for Apple.

However if they sell subscriptions through the iStore they not only have a unique Apple experience they also lock you into the iTunes ecosystem.

Another point for delivering subscriptions through iBooks is the advertising. I think we'll eventually see eMagazines delivering personalised advertising through iAds.
post #21 of 102
If it turns out Apple are the reason for lack of subscriptions, people are going to go nuts, myself included. There is no way I am paying $5 for a magazine when you can subscribe.

However, some of this doesnt make sense. I have subscriptions already to Netflix (OK that's really outside of the App store), WSJ and the Financial Times... Hulu Plus will be next, so someone here is not being honest...

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Do not overrate what you have received, nor envy others.
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post #22 of 102
Topic: Subscriptions for magazines is an outdated concept i.e. you must by an entire album to get one song. Discuss.

The iTunes store has freed me from the obligation of buying an entire CD of crappy songs so that I might own the one song I want, while still allowing me to buy the entire album if I wish. And either way I don't get gouged by the price.

Here's a thought. The concept of subscriptions is outdated. If I want the magazine every month, why can't I buy it each month at a decent price? Why isn't it available at a decent price if I only want to buy it every couple of months? A subscription is just a, "Pay now, maybe you'll get what you want later, maybe not. Either way we've got your money."

As for the "..provide recurring revenue and customer data for advertisers." Provide recurring revenue? Absolutely, whether the magazine deserves it or not. Ever get an issue of a magazine via a subscription that you wish you hadn't already paid for because the content sucks? I have. "Customer data for advertisers"? How about, "We sold X number magazines last month, X number the month before, etc., etc." for advertising data?

Does someone have an arguement how subscriptions are good for consumers?
post #23 of 102
Quote:
Originally Posted by russgriz View Post

As for the "..provide recurring revenue and customer data for advertisers." Provide recurring revenue? Absolutely, whether the magazine deserves it or not.

Yep. If each issue has to sell on it's own merits, rather than on the "average" quality (which is what sells subscriptions), they will probably have to put more effort in than they do currently, which will raise the price. People who want subscriptions want quantity not quality.
post #24 of 102
Quote:
Originally Posted by russgriz View Post

Topic: Subscriptions for magazines is an outdated concept i.e. you must by an entire album to get one song. Discuss.

The iTunes store has freed me from the obligation of buying an entire CD of crappy songs so that I might own the one song I want, while still allowing me to buy the entire album if I wish. And either way I don't get gouged by the price.

Here's a thought. The concept of subscriptions is outdated. If I want the magazine every month, why can't I buy it each month at a decent price? Why isn't it available at a decent price if I only want to buy it every couple of months? A subscription is just a, "Pay now, maybe you'll get what you want later, maybe not. Either way we've got your money."

As for the "..provide recurring revenue and customer data for advertisers." Provide recurring revenue? Absolutely, whether the magazine deserves it or not. Ever get an issue of a magazine via a subscription that you wish you hadn't already paid for because the content sucks? I have. "Customer data for advertisers"? How about, "We sold X number magazines last month, X number the month before, etc., etc." for advertising data?

Does someone have an arguement how subscriptions are good for consumers?

Umm... they're more convenient? Pay once and forget?

I agree that subscriptions are an outdated concept, for exactly those reasons. I would also add that I think Apple isn't allowing traditional magazine subscriptions in digital forms is the avenue that it's received. With a print magazine it just shows up in your mailbox. A magazine subscription on the iPad would imply that, when there's a new issue, it'll download automatically. But this is not the case, it must be downloaded manually. This would create complications for publishing on top, as they can't have each issue labelled as "$5 now if you don't have a subscription, $0 now if you do" unless that subscription model is through the App Store. Even if they did it by in-app purchases (like the comic book apps), I don't think the model supports locking some users out based on information gathered from a third-party site.
post #25 of 102
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

Just one example does not a trend make.

Btw, hasn't Time heard of Zinio?

zinio has the honor of being the first app i deleted from my ipad.

it sucks, and they send way too much spam.
post #26 of 102
Quote:
Originally Posted by sheff View Post

If this is an app store policy it needs some revision. If this is a fluke it needs an apology. Issue cannot be ignored because iPad is nothing without the content the developers and publishers make.

More specifically, magazine publishers are not gonna lower the price without commitment and there needs to be a way to pay once and forget about it for 6 months to a year. I think that is obvious enough with magazines. As commenters pointed out Apple can integrate this with iBooks if they don't want publishers to create their own processing systems, or have the transactions go through app store, and work out some sort of agreement of how much will go to publishers.

With the cost of post-print production gone from their business model, if Print Magazine corporations plan on charging print magazine prices they will lose. If they want to collect private data and resell it, they will lose. End of story.
post #27 of 102
NY times going to paid subscription will be one of their biggest mistakes. As for the magazines, a DISCOUNTED subscription would be good in many names. Paying full newsstand price each month is ridiculous and will be a waste of time for everyone.
In order for magazines to be hit:
CUSTMOERS have to get a discount
PUBLISHERS have to offer Subscription
APPLE has to bless it.

Lastly everyone has to agree on limited or no data collecting.
post #28 of 102
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Publishers looking to offer subscriptions to digital versions of their magazines on the iPad have been blocked by Apple, as the company has allegedly rejected subscriptions from the App Store without an explanation.


Do these subscriptions produce a continuing revenue stream for Apple? Or do these publishers think that they can come to the App Store, and sell stuff and not give a cut to Apple?

What are they, nuts?
post #29 of 102
Quote:
Originally Posted by russgriz View Post

Does someone have an arguement how subscriptions are good for consumers?


Generally, the per-issue price for the physical magazine, when you subscribe, is so low as to be inconsequential. Newsstand prices are always a ripoff because the item is an impulse purchase.

You get your stuff with no effort. It just shows up at your house.

You can archive the complete set in order to refer to them later - many serious magazines publish periodic index issues.

But none of this replaces getting the entire world's knowledge for free on the 'web. Magazines are an outmoded technology. $5 is too much for any magazine. Even Make.
post #30 of 102
I have no problem with Apple wanting to make sure a subscription model works well, or even trying to break up the idea of subscriptions (like per song purchases).

The only thing is, they should have had their ducks in a row before they opened the store. This issue is just more fodder for complaints against Apple (bad PR), and makes them look incompetent, or like jackasses.
post #31 of 102
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eideard View Post

"allegedly" has never been a confirmation. Why publish it - other than as gossip filler. Subscriptions obviously are allowed through iTunes; so, the likelihood is a lousy app.

Subs are overpriced - which i why I haven't even experimented with them, yet.

Haven't tried Zinio in years; but, current reviews say it sucks as much as ever!

I use Zinio on the iPad to subscribe to the Economist, PC World, MacWorld, Popular Mechanics and Macleans. It's great. Performance is snappy, and I'm able to read the titles just like a magazine. I would recommend the app without reservation. And the prices are competitive with print subscriptions. In contrast, the Conde Nast stand-alone titles, like Vanity Fair, are AWFUL, buggy and annoying, not to mention over-priced.
post #32 of 102
I've been saying ever since (and long before) the iBooks App was announced that Magazines and newpapers should be sold through the iBookstore. I think it's a waste of home-screen space, and completely redundant. I think the only reason why it's done this way is to eliminate the added cost of selling magazines through the iBookstore...that's my wild-ass guess, but i'm thinking Apple charges publishers a surcharge for every book they sell.

that being said, i think Apple might be working on a way to bring magazines to the iBookstore. I sure hope they do.

My only complaint about the iBooks App is that it's SOOOOOOOO SLOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWW!!!!!
Sure, i'm running iOS4 on a 3G iPhone, but it takes forever to load and the file sizes for books are enormous! A PDF version of similar books would be so much smaller.
post #33 of 102
I have the "dwell" magazine App and it still offers an annual subscription for $19.99 on top of per issue purchases of $3.99 per issue.
post #34 of 102
Q: What do automotive repair, soybean farming, and the manufacture of processed cheese foods have in common?

A: Those are the three industries Steve Jobs hasn't pissed off this year.
post #35 of 102
Quote:
Originally Posted by app_agent01 View Post

I suspect that they'll add it as an option via iBooks.

"iNewsstand"?

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post #36 of 102
Quote:
Originally Posted by iBoogieBoard View Post

Somehow, I think apple might be preparing it's own newspaper/magazine store to rival the kindle. There is no solid way to get many magazines or newspapers, something I thought should have been in there from the get-go


but amazon has exclusives with a lot of the content owners, right? Isn't that why ipad gets the craptastic NYT editors choice vs. the full content ? digital copies can't be sold for less than what amazon sells them for.

http://www.macnn.com/articles/10/05/...#ixzz0uzFK2jLE

The recent report suggests the Times may have been forced to release a an iPad app with limited content due to existing terms tied to the Kindle Edition, which costs $20 per month. The publisher is said to be restricted from offering a comparable digital version that undercuts the Kindle pricing.
post #37 of 102
Quote:
Originally Posted by iBoogieBoard View Post

Somehow, I think apple might be preparing it's own newspaper/magazine store to rival the kindle. There is no solid way to get many magazines or newspapers, something I thought should have been in there from the get-go

Thou needs to dig a little deeper. :>)
If you want them they can be had without paying with the possible exception of Murdoch's dismissible newspaper property.


I get a custom combination of newspapers in newspaper format each day for the iPad and the Mac. If one did not own a versatile iPad it is conceivable with a laser printer and reams of paper one could print their own newspaper each day to carry around. I just read my paper in iBooks and the daily comics in NewRack using rss feed to the comicslurper.


If I want local classified ads I will use Craigslist Pro. What am I missing?


Oh by the way, I also get several magazines now in a similar manner automatically delivered to iBooks.
They come in a PDF (rss feed) as digital paper 'podcasts' complete with full formatting and images. iTunes syncs them to iBooks automatically. Apple plays no part in the subscription, I just use an advanced feature of iTunes to make it work.
post #38 of 102
Quote:
Originally Posted by BUSHMAN4 View Post

NY times going to paid subscription will be one of their biggest mistakes. As for the magazines, a DISCOUNTED subscription would be good in many names. Paying full newsstand price each month is ridiculous and will be a waste of time for everyone.
In order for magazines to be hit:
CUSTMOERS have to get a discount
PUBLISHERS have to offer Subscription
APPLE has to bless it.

Lastly everyone has to agree on limited or no data collecting.

I'm trying out the NY Times sub in the B&N reader where they offer it at $20 per month, which is less than half of what I pay for the paper edition, though it doesn't come with the Sunday edition. If I discontinue the paper edition except for the Sunday one, and keep the digital one, it will cost half. That's fair.

But the digital edition is not exactly the same. They say that some photos and charts are left out. I suspect that will change over time.

The word was that The Times didn't offer a subto Apple directly because of a deal with Amazon over pricing.

Apple should get its act together on thos though and allow any mag to off a sub. Except for porno, I suppose.
post #39 of 102
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Publishers looking to offer subscriptions to digital versions of their magazines on the iPad have been blocked by Apple, as the company has allegedly rejected subscriptions from the App Store without an explanation. ....

People are also forgetting that magazines in general and magazine subscriptions in particular, have always been one of the biggest scams going.

The production costs of a magazine is tiny compared to it's sales potential and it's advertising revenue. Magazine producers make money hand over fist even with the junkiest magazines. Most are vastly overpriced junk with minimal information and at least 50% advertisements. In fact, the only reason they usually stop at 50% advertising is that in some countries (mine included) you aren't allowed to sell a magazine that has more ads than content *as* a magazine. It has to be redefined what it really is, which is an "advertising circular."

Subscriptions give the consumer a very small and modest discount over the cover price, but the cover price is already so greatly inflated, that there is still a huge profit margin even in the subscription cost. The benefit of a subscription is almost entirely to the publisher. They sell something like 60 or 70% more magazines if you subscribe because magazines are basically all the same and they are an impulse buy when purchased individually.

An interesting fact: People who subscribe to magazines generally read them less often, and read less of them, than those that buy them individually.
post #40 of 102
These publishers are trying to move their print business mode, which doesn't work, over to digital, where it also will not work.

They're going about it ass-backwards. They should be selling individual articles for pennies rather than entire editions or subscriptions. That's the lesson from the iTunes music experience. Customers didn't want to pay for entire CDs which contained maybe one or two songs that they really wanted.

Conde Nast Traveler's current edition contains travel articles on Haiti (I'm not going there), cruises (I have no interest in cruises), Africa (nope), and Veracruz Mexico (maybe if the drug lords aren't killing each other there.
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