Apple’s App Subscription Plan Has Been On Table For Months But Print Mags Aren’t Interested



Even though the introduction of the iPad-only publicationThe Daily is slated to also herald the coming of iTunes app subscriptions early next year, don’t necessarily expect that move to suddenly make your iPad a digital stand-in for the local newsstand: traditional magazine publishers remain skeptical of Cupertino’s app subscription plan because of the company’s refusal to share credit and billing information.

The app subscription model Apple has been proposing “for a couple months” isn’t radically different than the model they have successfully deployed across all other aspects of the App Store: Apple is offering magazine publishers 70 percent of the sales revenue as usual.

Additionally, Apple is willing to give iTunes users’ the option of an opt-in form that would allow any app subscriber to share his name, mailing address and e-mail address with that app’s publisher. That’s a big compromise, since Apple has historically kept such data secret from app publishers, but this sort of demographical data is important in driving the existing economic engine that allows most print magazines to flourish.

So far, so good, but magazine publishers want more. Quite a lot more, in fact: they want access to app subscribers’ credit card information, allowing them to better target their marketing and offer print/digital bundles.

Apple’s position on the matter is clear: take what we’re offering or leave it. It looks like traditional magazine publishers are doing the latter, instead resting their hopes on Google tablets or selling their digital magazines as individual apps.

What makes The Daily an exception? Because its a new publication, it doesn’t need to try to fit the iPad into its obsolete print ad and marketing structures: it can launch unencumbered with its business built from the ground up embracing the strengths and limitations of the App Store’s app subscription model. That’s a limberness many dinosaur pubs don’t have and could go a long way to explain why Apple is working so closely with News Corp in getting The Daily off the ground.