Magazine subscriptions now possible via iPad apps
Apple to keep subscriber info, 30% cut
The update announced Tuesday enables publishers to sell subscriptions by the week, month, year or other period of time, instead of asking readers to buy each issue separately.
The added convenience promises to help publishers sell more digital copies as they look to smart phones and tablet computers to replace some of the revenue that has disappeared over the past few years as readers and advertisers migrated from print editions.
But publishers won't be allowed to automatically collect personal information about people who buy subscriptions through the Apple apps. That data is prized for marketing purposes.
Instead, subscribers who sign up through an app on an Apple device will be given the option to share their information with publishers, a choice most people don't make. If people don't share their information with publishers, Apple will still hold onto it, though it will not pass it on to third parties.
New terms apply to Netflix, music apps
Apple will also take its standard 30 per cent cut from all app and content sales made in its iTunes store, which peddles a variety of music, movies, games and e-books. This new subscription system also applies to video and music services — for instance, the app for Netflix.
Content providers that don't want to automatically give Apple a slice of the revenue can try to sell subscriptions outside the app, too. One way to do that would be through the web browser, although that might prove too much of a hassle for people already used to buying apps, music and other things on iTunes.
Apple is insisting the financial terms of the digital subscriptions sold outside the app be no better than those offered in the iTunes store. And people must have the option to buy subscriptions within iTunes, if they want.
"We believe that this innovative subscription service will provide publishers with a brand new opportunity to expand digital access to their content onto the iPad, iPod touch and iPhone, delighting both new and existing subscribers," Apple CEO Steve Jobs said in a statement. Jobs, a cancer survivor, is on medical leave but continues to serve as chief executive.
Apple's new subscription policy follows News Corp.'s launch of the first iPad-only newspaper, the Daily, earlier this month. Its subscribers are charged through iTunes, making it the first iPad app to take advantage of this subscription feature.
More newspapers are focusing on digital devices because their biggest source of revenue, print advertising, has plunged during the past four years. Digital advertising has been steadily rising, but those increases have only made up for a fraction of the losses on the print side.