An agreement allowing newspapers and magazines to parlay the iPad into new print subscriptions may be one or two months away, according to a Monday report. The pact with publishers could be timed to coincide with Apple unveiling a new iPad in early 2011.
Apple has “accelerated its efforts to persuade publishers to join the company’s first foray into selling newspaper and magazine subscriptions for the iPad,” the Wall Street Journal reports. The Cupertino, Calif. company has already discussed its plans with Time Inc., Condé Nast, News Corp. and Hearst’s publishing divisions, the paper reports, citing insiders. Hearst may have already agreed with the proposal. Apple reportedly said “at least one” company is willing to sell subscriptions through its iTunes service, the report adds.
Offering subscriptions could be Apple’s next digital market, the report suggests. Although details are still being ironed out, Apple may offer an iTunes or iBook-like stand-alone app where customers could buy newspaper and magazine subscriptions.
While some publishers are concerned of a replay of Apple’s domination of the digital music industry, others envision the 160 million credit card accounts Apple has available. Sticking points remain, however, before an agreement is inked. A major stumbling block is to what extent Apple will provide publishers access to customer data.
While Apple has balked at giving publishers direct access to users’ personal data, some believe iPad subscribers may volunteer the information in exchange for gifts or special offers.
In related news, Sports Illustrated complains that Apple’s refusal to offer subscriptions at “reasonable prices” forced it to curtail some features of its iPad version, such as offering the magazine’s digital version only in “landscape” mode. SI, a Time Inc. publication, removed the “portrait” mode to permit 30 percent-fast downloads. A Time editor now says the company will “start building products on other platforms that will allow us to scale up as our business grows.” In August, Time also began offering free access to its People iPad application.