Sports Illustrated says unfair iPad subscription terms led to cut features

Posted:
in iPad edited January 2014
The latest issue of Sports Illustrated only supports viewing in "landscape" mode, as the publication has said that they were forced to cut costs because Apple does not allow iPad subscriptions at "a reasonable price."



As noted by Peter Kafka of MediaMemo, the SI application previously supported viewing in portrait mode, but the latest issue doesn't rotate like it used to. Instead, users are met with an error message that reads "This page is intended to be viewed in landscape mode. (There's nothing wrong with your iPad -- just turn it horizontally.)"



The magazine decided to do this in part because it believes that photo-driven magazines are best viewed horizontally. In addition, only offering the magazine in landscape mode cut down on the file size by 30 percent, making the latest issue download faster for users.



But Josh Quittner, an editor with Time magazine, revealed that the change was also done as a cost-cutting measure. Because designers must only create the magazine in one format, it cuts their work by at least a third.



He also went on to suggest the company will concentrate its efforts on other platforms where it sees growth potential, because Apple does not currently allow publications to offer iPad subscriptions "at a reasonable price."



"Why not add more designers?" Quittner said. "Well, if we were able to build a real business, with subscriptions that offered our iPad versions to readers at a reasonable price, that would be a no brainer. But we can't yet, so the best approach for us is to experiment with the format, marshal our (human) resources and start building products on other platforms that will allow us to scale up as our business grows."







He went on to say that if readers do not like the change, Sports Illustrated can always go back and support portrait mode again. He said that's the "beauty of the current market," as content providers have room to experiment without committing "fatal mistakes."



In August, another Time publication, People, began offering free access to its iPad application for existing subscribers. But publishers apparently remain unsatisfied with Apple's business model for new subscriptions.



Last week, it was rumored that Apple is working on a subscription plan for print publications, which would include a revenue sharing model similar to the one used for applications sold on the App Store. The purported program would offer an opt-in function which would allow subscribers to share their personal information with publications -- information considered imperative for advertising.



That new subscription model could be tied to a standalone application that would serve as a separate digital newsstand for magazines and newspapers. The application, said to be in the early stages, is expected to offer access to magazine and newspaper content in a manner similar to how the iBooks application sells digital versions of print books.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 137
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    "This page is intended to be viewed in landscape mode. (There's nothing wrong with your iPad -- just turn it horizontally.)"







    He also went on to suggest the company will concentrate its efforts on other platforms where it sees growth potential, because Apple does not currently allow publications to offer iPad subscriptions "at a reasonable price."








    Simple. Just don't hold it like that!



    But seriously, I thought Apple was going to single-handedly save the publishing industry. Har!
  • Reply 2 of 137
    So SI doesn't want to spend a little extra cash to make its app viewable in portrait mode? Super.
  • Reply 3 of 137
    We as consumers have access to vast amounts of content that is available merely by maintaining an Internet connection. This cannot be ignored and it seems to me Apple gets that. The content providers, not so much. They are in denial and if they remain so, they are doomed.
  • Reply 4 of 137
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Carmissimo View Post


    We as consumers have access to vast amounts of content that is available merely by maintaining an Internet connection. This cannot be ignored and it seems to me Apple gets that. The content providers, not so much. They are in denial and if they remain so, they are doomed.



    Let me restate what appears to lie just beneath your post (and the previous one as well). . . if the content providers don't agree to Apple's demands, including pricing . . . they are in denial and they are doomed.



    Nice.
  • Reply 5 of 137
    SI,



    Are you really serious about this? Do you really want to be in the digital business or don't you? As has been said, hire a designer. This is a long term investment, not a one shot thing. Are you looking to the future or to the past? Your magazine gets thinner and thinner. Think about it.
  • Reply 6 of 137
    Content providers are a little over impressed with their work - and the value of it to the internet using public.



    Go to a doctor's office to see the long term value of the dead tree version of a magazine. The subscriber used it as long as they wanted. Then the office staff had their turn and then the patients - for the next year.



    Te electronic version doesn't approach that. But it does eliminate a lot of the costs associated with the dead tree version.



    Personally I can see looking at some magazines far less if their pricing goes higher than a tiken payment.
  • Reply 7 of 137
    By the way. If there is a model that could work it would be a subscription service that for a single monthly fee, let's say $10, gave one access to whatever publication agreed to sign up. Kind of like how the cable model works for television. I think that paying one relatively small amount for unlimited access is something a lot of consumers would be fine with provided there was enough premium content offered.



    It's not the way that publications are accustomed to operating but it's a whole new landscape. Time to adjust or perish.
  • Reply 8 of 137
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by StLBluesFan View Post


    Let me restate what appears to lie just beneath your post (and the previous one as well). . . if the content providers don't agree to Apple's demands, including pricing . . . they are in denial and they are doomed.



    Nice.



    It sounds like you have a better plan and/or solution.



    Please elaborate.
  • Reply 9 of 137
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by StLBluesFan View Post


    Let me restate what appears to lie just beneath your post (and the previous one as well). . . if the content providers don't agree to Apple's demands, including pricing . . . they are in denial and they are doomed.



    Nice.



    I'm not saying that the providers have to work with Apple. But they can't operate as if this is 1973 only now content is delivered electronically.
  • Reply 10 of 137
    Anyone know how the Dev process works for this? I am shocked that this isn't simply HTML5 or PDF based. Why should you have to create a "portrait" version and a "landscape" version? I would think this would be handled in the viewing software.
  • Reply 11 of 137
    I'm not an expert (nor do I play one on TV), but this seems very simple. As a publisher, if you want to provide digital content, you're either in, or you're out. I've seen some truly half-assed attempts at this. But with the economy in the shape that it's in, if you're going digital, you'd better be offering something unique and different.
  • Reply 12 of 137
    "reasonable price" the content providers and Apple have vastly different ideas about what is reasonable. They probably want to charge like $4.00 per issue and Apple doesn't think it's worth that much money. None of the content providers have really figured out the electronic publishing issue.
  • Reply 13 of 137
    boogabooga Posts: 1,080member
    Please elaborate, SI, what other tablet/reader platforms you're moving to that will make you more money.
  • Reply 14 of 137
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by huntercr View Post


    Anyone know how the Dev process works for this? I am shocked that this isn't simply HTML5 or PDF based. Why should you have to create a "portrait" version and a "landscape" version? I would think this would be handled in the viewing software.



    Yeah I read somwhere (don't have the link sorry, think it was on Ars Technica) that they use some crappy Flash to IPad converter, that basically packages all images in a iOS container. The worst part is that they have blown up versions of each files for different Zoom levels. Turns out it makes the "apps" huge compared to the content.



    This is why cutting costs results in not generating 100 different images for the orientations + zoom levels.



    Another fine example of not wanting to invest. Build a real HTML5 version already!
  • Reply 15 of 137
    If Apple keeps this up, these publishers will take their business elsewhere. The iPad is the only game in town so far but next year could be different.



    I don't want to pay for $5 an issue and so does everyone else. I have been blaming the publishers for not offering subscriptions but if it's true that Apple is preventing it then that's just a disappointment.
  • Reply 16 of 137
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by old-wiz View Post


    "reasonable price" the content providers and Apple have vastly different ideas about what is reasonable. They probably want to charge like $4.00 per issue and Apple doesn't think it's worth that much money. None of the content providers have really figured out the electronic publishing issue.



    It likely has less to do with the actual price than Apple's cut of each subscription.
  • Reply 17 of 137
    eaieai Posts: 417member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by huntercr View Post


    Anyone know how the Dev process works for this? I am shocked that this isn't simply HTML5 or PDF based. Why should you have to create a "portrait" version and a "landscape" version? I would think this would be handled in the viewing software.



    A key part of the 'magazine' experience over the standard web is that each page is designed by hand. Text is carefully flowed around pictures, and each page designed as a whole. With the web you don't get that - you get some good attempts.



    Portrait and landscape are quite different - the example screenshot from the article shows this quite well - imagine how that might be laid out of it was portrait - I think it'd be pretty different, if you'd want a similar effect.
  • Reply 18 of 137
    nkhmnkhm Posts: 928member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by huntercr View Post


    Anyone know how the Dev process works for this? I am shocked that this isn't simply HTML5 or PDF based. Why should you have to create a "portrait" version and a "landscape" version? I would think this would be handled in the viewing software.



    The magazine will be laid out in quark or indesign for a tabloid size spread, which is landscape. The content needs repurposing for portrait/landscape orientation, or one of two things happens when turning the pad to a portrait orientation: you lose half the content and need to scroll horizontally to view the other half of the spread, or you scale down and end up with letterboxing top and bottom. So you need to repurpose the content twice - a landscape (spreads) view and a portrait (single page) view.



    It's just about taking the time to design these. Print designers are more fussy (quite rightly) about content being properly typeset and repurposed depending on how it's being displayed - simply squashing and scaling as you could do with html would horrify most print designers. Basically, SI need to employ designers full time for their digital versions.



    EDIT: I find it funny that those users who were previously demanding that apple keep the prices for these subscriptions low are now the same people berating Apple for forcing SI to have a lower price for their digital subscriptions. You can't have it both ways apple haters.
  • Reply 19 of 137
    Hmm I don't understand, when I go to the homepage of SI I can get all info that I might be interested in for free. So of course I can see the benefit of an app on a tablet device once I am out of WIFI range, but the pricing for this in app or "iNews"-subscription has to be very moderate. I agree that it will be a different thing if they would provide high level content and user experience, but please what they upload on the internet looks very cheap.
  • Reply 20 of 137
    eaieai Posts: 417member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by dagamer34 View Post


    It likely has less to do with the actual price than Apple's cut of each subscription.



    Assuming Apple are aiming for a 70/30 split as the app store has, you'd have thought that publisher's current costs on top of producing the actual content must be close to 30% as it is? That's the printing, delivery, collection of unsold issues, pulping and chasing payments from retailers etc.
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