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Apple, magazine publishers reach deal for subscriptions on iPad

post #1 of 51
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People became the first print magazine to offer subscribers free access to its iPad application Thursday, apparently paving the way for others to follow.

According to Philip Elmer-DeWitt of Fortune, Time Inc. broke the impasse that has existed for months between publishers and Apple. He said that Time's other publications are expected to follow the same path as People in the next 30 days, including Fortune, Time, and Sports Illustrated.

"It's not clear what took so long," Elmer-DeWitt wrote. "Publishers who were encouraged to build iPad apps by Steve Jobs himself say they were ready from the start to make them free to subscribers. Until now, however, Apple would neither give them the tools they needed, nor explain what was holding them up."

He added: "The publishers still can't sell subscriptions through the App Store, which is how they would prefer to do it."

Last month, it was noted that Time and other magazine publishers were frustrated as they were blocked from allowing subscribing customers the ability to access a digital version of the magazine on the IPad. Publishers said that Apple had rejected the option without explaining its policy.

Users, instead, were left only to pay the $4.99-per-issue newsstand price of publications like Sports Illustrated, which led to extremely negative reviews on the App Store.



Magazine officials were 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.

Some iPad App Store software, such as Amazon's Kindle, or The Wall Street Journal's application, allow for customers to be charged directly instead of buying an application. But other content providers, like The New York Times, have yet to offer digital subscriptions.
post #2 of 51
So, how exactly will this work? It wasn't clear to me from this or the linked to article.
post #3 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post

So, how exactly will this work? It wasn't clear to me from this or the linked to article.

Well, I am sitting here at the Boardwalk in Santa Cruz, CA. If I had a sub to the magazine -- I could read it at no charge.

Sent from my iPad.

.
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post #4 of 51
What's the point of a one sided debate from disgruntled people?

Do you really think Apple didn't tell magazines what to do to meet their standards? Rejections from the App Store always have a reason.
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post #5 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dick Applebaum View Post

Well, I am sitting here at the Boardwalk in Santa Cruz, CA. If I had a sub to the magazine -- I could read it at no charge.

Sent from my iPad.

.

I got that part, sort of, but, how does that publisher/App Store know you have a subscription, and what if you don't?
post #6 of 51
The irony of this to me is that I do not think the majority of users would find it incredible to pay a small but reasonable fee in addition to their print subscriptions to have digital access. I mean added value stuff is great and all (like what netflix seems so great at), but I would be willing to pay a small, one-time fee for access, and that goes directly into offsetting the inevitable costs of this kind of offering.
post #7 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

What's the point of a one sided debate from disgruntled people?

Do you really think Apple didn't tell magazines what to do to meet their standards? Rejections from the App Store always have a reason.

For once I actually agree with you. We only have ever heard from publishers in this dispute. Just because Apple has chosen not to explain themselves to us, doesn't mean they haven't done so to their partners. More than likely the publishers decided to air their displeasure publicly in order to put some pressure on Apple.
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post #8 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post

I got that part, sort of, but, how does that publisher/App Store know you have a subscription, and what if you don't?

How does any application know whether you are subscribed or not?
post #9 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

What's the point of a one sided debate from disgruntled people?

Do you really think Apple didn't tell magazines what to do to meet their standards? Rejections from the App Store always have a reason.

Agreed. Until we have the whole story, this isn't a story. I'm guessing the magazines were attempting to collect subscription fees for the iPad version outside of the App Store. Apple pulled the apps until some sort of arrangement could be met.

I can understand Apple's position here. They handle distribution costs for free apps. If these magazines are providing free apps to paid subscribers, that's a lot of money the magazines are saving by distributing through the App Store and a lot of money Apple is losing and could be collecting via sales through the store.
Disclaimer: The things I say are merely my own personal opinion and may or may not be based on facts. At certain points in any discussion, sarcasm may ensue.
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Disclaimer: The things I say are merely my own personal opinion and may or may not be based on facts. At certain points in any discussion, sarcasm may ensue.
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post #10 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post

How does any application know whether you are subscribed or not?

Well, as far as I know, none of my apps knows what magazines I subscribe to.

It would be nice to have some actual details on how this is supposed to work. Are they talking about print subscribers get it for free, or a separate e-sub? In app purchasing? Tracked by the App Store? (It seems not.) Enter code from print label (assuming by subscriber they mean print subscriber, which may not be the case)? That would be inconvenient if you don't have physical copy handy. Go to website to sub or buy single issue? How do you buy a single issue? All issues downloaded to single app? What happens to old ones? etc., etc.
post #11 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post

How does any application know whether you are subscribed or not?

I would guess you'd have to go to their website and create a login account or get an access key... then enter that info in the application.
Disclaimer: The things I say are merely my own personal opinion and may or may not be based on facts. At certain points in any discussion, sarcasm may ensue.
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Disclaimer: The things I say are merely my own personal opinion and may or may not be based on facts. At certain points in any discussion, sarcasm may ensue.
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post #12 of 51
My guess. Apple wanted a piece of the ad revenue for the "in app" ads. and it was a negotiation between how the revenue of ads in the magazines would be "shared" and what part iAds would play.

Apple can't keep up with demand and doesn't want to lose to the now announced Goole Chrome tablet.
post #13 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

What's the point of a one sided debate from disgruntled people?

Do you really think Apple didn't tell magazines what to do to meet their standards? Rejections from the App Store always have a reason.

Quote:
Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post

I got that part, sort of, but, how does that publisher/App Store know you have a subscription, and what if you don't?

It's been a while, but a mag sub has a label with your sub I'd. I imagine you register the app with the sub Id and other info to verify your account.

.
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post #14 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by ray27 View Post

My guess. Apple wanted a piece of the ad revenue for the "in app" ads. and it was a negotiation between how the revenue of ads in the magazines would be "shared" and what part iAds would play.

Apple can't keep up with demand and doesn't want to lose to the now announced Goole Chrome tablet.

This is a baseless observation and highly unlikely.
More likely Apple just wanted a proper slice of the subscription fees.
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The true measure of a man is how he treats someone that can do him absolutely no good.
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post #15 of 51
The info on the People app in the iTunes App Store says you can buy each issue through iTunes or get it for free if you are a print subscriber. On the People support site for the app, they provide a link that appears to give you a way to link the app to your print subscription.

Certainly better pricing than buying each issue! Although, I would prefer not having to buy any paper subscriptions, but they don't support that.
post #16 of 51
However they work out the business model, I hope that there is some umbrella app like iBooks to organize your subscriptions. I really don't want a bunch of proprietary apps spread out across my iPad. Instead, a uniformed file format like the books would be nice. What would be really nice, is if you could pay for subscription packages. You would pay X amount for 3 magazines for a year. You get to choose between a group. The groups could be tiered into different price points.

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post #17 of 51
Sorry, but I can't see paying out good money for a digital magazine full of ads.

If a magazine wants my eyeballs they need to be interesting and at no cost. There is simply too much already available on the internet to have to pay.
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post #18 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by GadgetComa View Post

...Although, I would prefer not having to buy any paper subscriptions, but they don't support that.

That's my issue as well. I don't want the print version of the magazine. To me, that's the whole point of having the electronic version. I don't want to have to subscribe to the print version just to have free access to the electronic version. Let me pay some percentage of the print subscription (and in place of it) so I can have access on the iPad.
post #19 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by GadgetComa View Post

The info on the People app in the iTunes App Store says you can buy each issue through iTunes or get it for free if you are a print subscriber. On the People support site for the app, they provide a link that appears to give you a way to link the app to your print subscription.

Certainly better pricing than buying each issue! Although, I would prefer not having to buy any paper subscriptions, but they don't support that.

So it looks like their subscriber list is linked through in app purchasing (free), or you buy single issues through in app purchasing. Interesting.
post #20 of 51
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post #21 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob55 View Post

That's my issue as well. I don't want the print version of the magazine. To me, that's the whole point of having the electronic version. I don't want to have to subscribe to the print version just to have free access to the electronic version. Let me pay some percentage of the print subscription (and in place of it) so I can have access on the iPad.

Have the print version sent to your doctor's office. That way they'll actually have up to date reading material there, and you won't have to throw it away.

Anyway, I don't think there's ever going to be a significant price difference (if any) between the print- and e-versions, if they were offered separately. Their cost differential between a print- or e-copy is probably not that great (cheap paper, cheap printing, most of the costs not involved in printing and distribution), so they aren't going to be saving lots of money on e-only subs to pass along, and what little difference there is, if they do offer e-only subs at some point, they'd probably prefer to pocket.
post #22 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post

Have the print version sent to your doctor's office. That way they'll actually have up to date reading material there, and you won't have to throw it away.

Anyway, I don't think there's ever going to be a significant price difference (if any) between the print- and e-versions, if they were offered separately. Their cost differential between a print- or e-copy is probably not that great (cheap paper, cheap printing, most of the costs not involved in printing and distribution), so they aren't going to be saving lots of money on e-only subs to pass along, and what little difference there is, if they do offer e-only subs at some point, they'd probably prefer to pocket.

Well, the truth is, if I can get an e-version for the same discounted price I now pay for a print subscription, I'd be ok with that. Some of those discounted subscriptions are so aggressively priced, they're practically throwing the magazine at you.
post #23 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by techno View Post

However they work out the business model, I hope that there is some umbrella app like iBooks to organize your subscriptions. I really don't want a bunch of proprietary apps spread out across my iPad. Instead, a uniformed file format like the books would be nice. What would be really nice, is if you could pay for subscription packages. You would pay X amount for 3 magazines for a year. You get to choose between a group. The groups could be tiered into different price points.

Totally agree. I'd love to see an iMagazines store along the same lines as the iBooks store. One app with a shelf of downloaded magazines would be great.
post #24 of 51
I'm fairly certain that the issue keeping an agreement from happening has been over the subscriber data generated when someone subscribes to the magazine or buys an issue and who owns what parts of that data.

Subscriber data is important to the magazines because they use it to sell advertising and the more data they have the more they can sell targeted ads and thus charge a higher price for the ads. On the other hand, its highly valuable to Apple to use it for its own marketing and highly valuable for Apple to keep it out of the hands of other 3rd parties who may own competing operating OSs.

So somehow they have come to some agreement on this subscriber data.
post #25 of 51
So now you subscribe for a subscription somewhere else and then enter your info inside the app? I'm a bit confused on how the publishers check if you are a subscriber or not if apple does not let them sell subscriptions (why not?).

If they go around the app store apple does not get any money for these subscriptions. I think apple makes some money off the app store, unlike the music store so I would think it would make sense to sell subs and keep the revenues.
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post #26 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by sheff View Post

So now you subscribe for a subscription somewhere else and then enter your info inside the app? I'm a bit confused on how the publishers check if you are a subscriber or not if apple does not let them sell subscriptions (why not?).

If they go around the app store apple does not get any money for these subscriptions. I think apple makes some money off the app store, unlike the music store so I would think it would make sense to sell subs and keep the revenues.

From what it says here,

http://www.people.com/people/static/...ad-faq.html#q8

it looks like it uses in app purchasing, so through the app store, with their subscriber lists linked in, but it's not clear what financial arrangements there are around this. I'm guessing Apple does not get the standard app store split on the full subscription price, but they probably get something to at least cover costs, and negotiating that is probably what the delay was all about.
post #27 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by All Day Breakfast View Post

I'm fairly certain that the issue keeping an agreement from happening has been over the subscriber data generated when someone subscribes to the magazine or buys an issue and who owns what parts of that data.

Subscriber data is important to the magazines because they use it to sell advertising and the more data they have the more they can sell targeted ads and thus charge a higher price for the ads. On the other hand, its highly valuable to Apple to use it for its own marketing and highly valuable for Apple to keep it out of the hands of other 3rd parties who may own competing operating OSs.

So somehow they have come to some agreement on this subscriber data.

That's probably why you have to be a print subscriber to get the e-version. That way, they get the subscriber data they normally would, and Apple doesn't have to give it up.
post #28 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dick Applebaum View Post

Well, I am sitting here at the Boardwalk in Santa Cruz, CA. If I had a sub to the magazine -- I could read it at no charge.

Sent from my iPad.

.

And that's all well and good, but I want to eliminate many of my paper subs amd substitute iPad subs instead, as long, of course as I can keep older issues. But so far, the pricing is too high. I don't know why we aren't getting prices equal to paper subs. There really isn't a problem with that. Make an app, charge the sub price, and update it every month with a new issue. Yes, we would have to pay Apple's cut, but that's not the end of the world.
post #29 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by hodgkin View Post

The irony of this to me is that I do not think the majority of users would find it incredible to pay a small but reasonable fee in addition to their print subscriptions to have digital access. I mean added value stuff is great and all (like what netflix seems so great at), but I would be willing to pay a small, one-time fee for access, and that goes directly into offsetting the inevitable costs of this kind of offering.

I don't see why a one time fee would work. They add, and have to pay for, new stuff for the digital edition every month. Why should they allow a "small, one-time fee" to gain access to all of that? The whole point to paying for a magazine monthly, or buying a subscription, is to pay for that continually evolying content.

But, what seems to be said here is even better than what you are asking. They are offering the digital copies for free to subscribers. If that includes digital only content that can't easily be given as part of the paper edition, then that's a bargain. But some magazines already allow subscribers to access closed portions of their otherwise free websites. I get free acess to the
wsj website because I'm a subscriber. I get access to the Science, and Proceedings, because I Belong to the AAAS and the Amer. Academy of Sciences. So it's already being done through websites.
post #30 of 51
Here's a sad laugh about the state of affairs in this industry. I've been a subscriber to the Los Angeles Times for something like 35 years now. They finally made an e-edition available (really just an e-mailed PDF of the print edition, but better than nothing). Supposedly the e-edition is available to all current print subscribers. When I make this request, this is what I see:

Quote:
Thank you for registering for Times ALL ACCESS. Your request has been received and will be processed within the next 5-10 days. You will receive a confirmation to the e-mail address you provided, once your access is activated. If you have any questions regarding your account or ALL ACCESS, contact Los Angeles Times Subscriber Services at 1-800-252-9141.

It takes them 5-10 days to "activate" this service? No, that's wishful thinking. I've been requesting it for over a month now.
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post #31 of 51
My MLB.TV subscription allows me to log in using the iPad app, and access video for any out-of-market game. The subscription is paid for directly with MLB.TV. Why couldn't a magazine subscription service work the same way?
post #32 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by kenaustus View Post

Sorry, but I can't see paying out good money for a digital magazine full of ads.

If a magazine wants my eyeballs they need to be interesting and at no cost. There is simply too much already available on the internet to have to pay.

So can we assume that you've never bought a magazine at a newsstand or store because it has Ads? Or that you've never bought a sub either, for the same reason? Why do people look at digital as though the content should be free, but have been willing to pay for it when it was on paper? That makes no sense. It's the Ads that pays for the magazine. The amount you pay is just a small part of it.
post #33 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaHarder View Post

ZINIO... Enough Said

I've got Zinio, like most people who have used it, I can say that it's not very good.
post #34 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post

From what it says here,

http://www.people.com/people/static/...ad-faq.html#q8

it looks like it uses in app purchasing, so through the app store, with their subscriber lists linked in, but it's not clear what financial arrangements there are around this. I'm guessing Apple does not get the standard app store split on the full subscription price, but they probably get something to at least cover costs, and negotiating that is probably what the delay was all about.

It's hard to say. Apple gets nothing from free apps, but they get the standard 30% from in app purchases.
post #35 of 51
edit

error type #11
whats in a name ? 
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whats in a name ? 
beatles
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post #36 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Galley View Post

My MLB.TV subscription allows me to log in using the iPad app, and access video for any out-of-market game. The subscription is paid for directly with MLB.TV. Why couldn't a magazine subscription service work the same way?

On their website, it looks like it requires Flash plugin. How does that work on iPad? edit: nevermind, I found the info

(And I wish all TV channels were available individually like that).
post #37 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by mjtomlin View Post

Agreed. Until we have the whole story, this isn't a story. I'm guessing the magazines were attempting to collect subscription fees for the iPad version outside of the App Store. Apple pulled the apps until some sort of arrangement could be met.

I can understand Apple's position here. They handle distribution costs for free apps. If these magazines are providing free apps to paid subscribers, that's a lot of money the magazines are saving by distributing through the App Store and a lot of money Apple is losing and could be collecting via sales through the store.

I happened to notice that Apple no longer promotes the top free apps in the iTunes App Store, except for a small, barely noticeable text link. To me, this indicates Apple is no longer interested in promoting apps unless they are profitable. They probably figure they have more than enough free apps.

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post #38 of 51
You clould assume that the way the App store is structured it automatically skims Apples cut off of every in app purchase and Apple don't currently have a way of differentiating from in-app and subscription payments. This will probably change once Apple restructures the app store billing side.

It could be in part to Apple not anticipating the magazine publishers wanting to have subscriptions for their own apps or Apple is dragging its heals while it puts together a 'Magazine' store ala iBooks.
post #39 of 51
So how does Apple make money off this? They pay to host the app and bandwidth for millions of downloaded updates, and the publisher gets all the revenue out-of-band.
post #40 of 51
I have an annual subscription to the BMW Roundel. There has been a digital version for a few months that used flash. After much complaint, something BMW owners are used to doing, they came out with a java based version with no flash. It works perfectly on the iPad, ads and all. You need to log in with your membership number and password for the BMWCCA. No charge. OTOH, a sub is $35/yr.

I also have a subscription to New Yorker Magazine. My login allows me to view the entire issue online. This works fine for a computer, but is unusable on an iPhone. There is a version for the iPad which works fine. Login with email and password. No charge. Sub is $28/yr for educ use.
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