I’m a huge fan of the Vancouver Sun (Postmedia, really) iPad app, it is (as I said initially) part of my daily routine of reading the news. Now, I know that Postmedia doesn’t push all the articles from the Sun (or other papers) to the app, but that’s okay. Kobo came out with real subscriptions to newspapers and magazines a while back and while that’s a great solution for those who don’t already subscribe to the paper, what about folks who get the paper already and pay for a digital edition? Right, not terribly fair. So what a lot of publishers did was to make a free iPad app, but allow subscribers to login to their accounts so they could read all the news they paid for already.
Unfortunately Apple didn’t see it the same way:
According to various reports posted over the weekend, Apple has reportedly contacted several newspapers to inform them that they can no longer offer free iPad access to existing print subscribers. Many publishers, in fact, frustrated with Apple’s lack of recurring subscriptions with access to subscribers’ data, have put in place systems that allow print subscribers who have an iPad to get free access to apps using their previously created accounts. These systems, as you can guess, leave Apple’s standard 30% revenue cut of the equation as app access is offered for free. From MacStories
Oh Apple, why are you doing this before you have in-app subscriptions ready? Look newspapers and magazines are having a rough go of it and rich, connected, and immersive iPad apps were looking pretty good for them. Fine, Wired wasn’t selling too many issues, but Wired is a horse of a different color. Newspapers can push out more news and local coverage. Not something that Wired is interested in doing in their magazine. Seriously, Kobo worked out a nice monthly billing plan for a lot of papers (no, I don’t subscribe to any because what I’m getting from the Sun now is enough), why can’t Apple?
Look the system could even work with the current system of redeemable iTunes codes like we already have for digital movies. You want to get the paper electronically only (a nice environmental choice)? Great, here is the price for “daily delivery” to your iPad. Oh, already a subscriber? Great, here is your code to unlock your subscription for x period of time. Ostensibly the period of time would sync with what is remaining on your subscription. Sure, Apple would have to work out the “receive the paper for x period of time” stuff on your account, but they are going to have to do it regardless for things like being able to give a subscription to something as a present (or even redeem iTunes credit for a subscription).
I realize that Apple allowing (or not) subscriptions alone isn’t going to breath new life into the newspaper industry, the industry needs far, far more help than just Apple. However, iPad apps are a step in the right direction. Giving existing (and thereby loyal) subscribers a nice digital bonus is a way to not only keep subscribers but could also bring new ones in as well.
So pox on Rupert Murdoch’s The Daily and its glorious plans, Apple, roll out in app subscriptions for periodicals before you bring the hammer down on folks who are trying to make a go of it with established outlets.
Originally posted on the Future Shop Tech Blog