Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue

06/09/2011

Publishers Gain More Flexibility in iPad & iPhone Subs


The iPad and iPhone have become popular tools among magazine and newspaper readers.

Finally! Apple iStore has realized that their dictatorial management style RE pricing of subscriptions through apps in the iStore for the iPad and iPhone was a road to nowheresville, disgruntled customers and loss revenues.

Please refer to these previous posts for more background on this issue.

The latest today is from Crain’s New York Business:

Apple eases rules on iPad, iPhone subs

“Publishers will have more flexibility with Apple’s new digital publishing rules. They will now be allowed to undercut Apple’s app prices for subscriptions on their own websites and elsewhere.”

Apple has made a change that could help newspaper and magazine publishers make more money when they sell subscriptions for the iPad and iPhone.

The looser rules make it easier for publishers to sell subscriptions on Apple Inc.’s hot-selling devices outside the company’s online store.

Apple’s original subscription policy dictated that publishers couldn’t undercut the prices offered within their iPad and iPhone applications. Apple said Thursday that rule will no longer apply.

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04/23/2011

The Hackers Quarterly…and the Apple And Amazon Continuing Subscription Debacle


 

2600 Magazine - The Hackers Quarterly

For those who have not been properly introduced to 2600, the hackers quarterly magazine…I am formally presenting this mag to you tonight.

Along with the introduction is a dissertation on how they are expanding their online publishing platforms (read that as formats)…and how they are championing the elimination of DRM (digital rights management)…which they feel is an anti-consumer restriction/regulation.

What do you think? I admit I’m still puzzling over the DRM details!

By the way, DRM is defined as the use of software or other computer technology to manage the conditions under which copyrighted material in digital form can be accessed.

From 2600.com :

2600 EXPANDS ELECTRONIC PUBLISHING PLATFORMS 

The saga of our electronic publishing endeavors continues. We’ve grown weary of waiting for Amazon and Apple to work things out between them so that subscriptions can be available on the iPad, so we’ve bypassed their stalemate and made individual issues available for those devices. We’ve also made them available for the Barnes and Noble Nook. More is on the way.

The price of the current issue is set by Amazon – we have no control over this. We’re trying to get them to make it available for less and we’ve already managed to do this for back issues. Your support at this time gives us more leverage and will help to set the standard for the entire electronic publishing world.

We’re also fighting to have any DRM restrictions removed from our publications. Please stand behind us on this as it’s our chance to show other publishers that non-DRM is the way to go and that publications can indeed prosper in this environment without implementing crippling and anti-consumer regulations. If you’re annoyed by a policy or restriction of Amazon, etc., posting a negative review actually gives us LESS leverage as it’s seen as a reflection of 2600, not Amazon. Before Amazon accidentally removed Android compatibility, we were #1 in customer service on the entire Kindle Magazine section. The complaints against Amazon that came in after their blunder pushed us way under and were likely not even seen by those in charge. So if you’re happy or unhappy with what WE’RE doing, tell the world via the feedback option. If something annoys you that we’re not directly responsible for, let us know in an email (webmaster@2600) and we’ll look into it.

We’ve made a lot of progress in a relatively short amount of time but we know there’s a great deal more that needs to be done. We find ourselves at a very historic juncture, not just for us but for the whole publishing world.

This is where we stand at the moment:

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04/06/2011

Financial Times Still Nixing Apple’s Subscription Plan


Back to the intrigue of Apple’s greedy and asinine subscription plan for magazines and newspapers offered on its iPad and through its iTunes app store.

You are cordially invited to read my previous posts on this subject (all arranged at one convenient link) on my Writers Welcome Blog for more background on this issue.

Although the New York Times and a few others have signed up for the Apple subscription plan, the Financial Times and others have stayed away…saying ‘subscriber relationships are too important to give up in return for the convenience of in-app purchases.’

That last statement refers to Apple’s refusal to give subscriber demographics to the publishers who created them in the first place! This data is crucial to publishers for follow up customer service and special deal offerings among a host of other customer relations fulfillment issues.

This from Josh Lowensohn of CNET News

Financial Times not into Apple’s publishing rules

While some publishers like News Corp. and The New York Times Co. have jumped on board the digital subscription plan Apple unveiled in mid-February, others are bucking the trend, saying that subscriber relationships are too important to give up in return for the convenience of in-app purchases.

In an interview with Reuters yesterday, Rob Grimshaw, managing director of the Financial Times’ Web site, said the outlet was negotiating with Apple on a deal over its iPad subscription program. Grimshaw said that since having that user information and relationship was “at the core of our business model,” it wouldn’t make sense to give that up to Apple in return for a way to subscribe from within the app.

“If it turns out that one or another channel doesn’t mix with the way we want to do business, there’s a large number of other channels available to us,” Grimshaw told Reuters.

If a deal ends up being struck, it’s likely to send a message to other publishers that the stipulations within Apple’s new program are not set in stone.

Apple introduced its long-expected subscription program in February, offering publishers a chance to set both the price and length of subscriptions in return for Apple getting a 30 percent share. Publishers can get around the cut by bringing in existing or new subscribers from their own sites, though as part of the deal the publisher must maintain the same subscription terms and pricing elsewhere, which is problematic for publishers that want to offer special deals.

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03/10/2011

Hearst Magazines, iPad, Subscription Data Dispute–‘Bespoke’ Apps May Hold Key


The Hearst magazine empire, which includes more than 200 titles worldwide…including Cosmopolitan, Esquire, O ( The Oprah Magazine) among others in the U.S. …has held out offering subscriptions on the Apple iPad simply because Apple won’t release subscriber info to the publisher. I have posted on this issue before “Apple iPad Too Dictatorial to Publishers?“. Please visit for more background information on this issue.

Time Inc., Condé Nast and Meredith Corporation joined Hearst Corporation in boycotting the iPad for the exact same reason.

Anyway, it appears Hearst (and I assume the others if they haven’t already made other arrangements) may be approaching a work-around-solution to this problem that involves ‘bespoke‘ or custom-created publications for Apple instead of making their existing products available on the iPad.

(John’s Note: I did not know what bespoke meant before this research…AND, I’m still unsure just how the Hearst mags’ custom software for the Apple iPad will garner the subscriber info for Hearst…ANYONE have any ideas?) 

These details from Bloomberg.com by Brett Pulley 

Hearst Magazines ‘Optimistic’ About Resolving Dispute With Apple

David Carey, president of Hearst Magazines, said he’s “optimistic” that major publishers will be able reach an agreement with Apple Inc. (AAPL) about selling subscriptions for the computer maker’s iPad tablet.

Hearst Magazines, a unit of New York-based Hearst Corp. with more than 200 titles around the world, is among the big publishers trying to reach an agreement with Apple. Carey said he is concerned about getting access to information about people who subscribe to his company’s magazines on the iPad.

“I don’t think the publishing industry and Apple are on the same page relative to the data discussion,” said Carey at the Bloomberg Media Summit in New York. “We do not want to be disconnected from who the subscribers are. I’m going to be optimistic that the big publishers and Apple will find a way to work together.”

Hearst’s 14 U.S. titles include Cosmopolitan, Esquire, and O: The Oprah Magazine.

Apple last month started a subscription service for publishers of newspapers, magazines and other content applications. News Corp. (NWSA) is offering subscriptions to the Daily, its new digital-only news publication, through Apple.

Apple has refused to release some consumer information to publishers for customers who buy subscriptions directly through its App Store, which has been a sticking point for some publishers, including the closely held Hearst and Time Warner Inc. (TWX)’s magazine group, Time Inc.

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02/22/2011

The ‘New’ Apple iPad is Late to the Dance


I’ve heard that the new, updated Apple iPad’s actual shipping date has been moved back from April to June (production problems)…This will put it behind other new tablet version debuts (the Android OS market) by a couple of months.

So what, says I. I think Apple is playing catch up (with the anticipated upgrades in their new version) with some other tablets already on the market (Motorola’s Xoom, for example).  

But, you good people will decide if Apple will continue to be the main star in the tablet computer world. Their star is already dimmer due to the bungling of the Apple’s ‘publishers subscription plan’ for newspapers and magazines. This coupled with the new talent on the block will truly shape Apple’s place in the market.

This from Stefanie Botelho of FOLIO magazine:

The new iPad may be late to its own coming out party.

Yuanta Securities Co. reports iPad manufacturer Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. is experiencing “production bottlenecks”. The shipment of the new version of the tablet might be pushed back from April to June.

Apple announced the launch of its subscription app last week, with magazines like Popular Science, Elle and Nylon signing on board.

The delay is cited to changes Apple made to the design of the second iPad in January. Vincent Chen, analyst at Yuanta, shares, “Our checks suggest new issues are being encountered with the new production and it is taking time to resolve them,” according to Bloomberg.com.

This may mean good news for the Android market. Chen observes, “As a number of Android 3.0 tablets are being launched in April and May, the delay in iPad 2 shipments may give the Android camp a brief window of opportunity.” As of last quarter, Apple’s corner 75 percent of the global tablet market, with Android tablets claiming 22 percent.

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02/18/2011

Apple Pissing on Antitrust Laws


More on Apple’s asininity RE their new subscription plan (actually a power grab plan to control setting digital publishing standards).

Apple’s new subscription plan for publishers is drawing close eyeballing from both the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) and the Justice Department, both of which investigate ‘stifling-of-competition’ cases (why do we have this kind of overlap in our government agencies, anyway?)

Apple can spin this anyway they want…AND the FTC and Justice can rationalize this to avoid enforcing this rampant violation of our antitrust laws (as this writer sees it)…but, it won’t change the inherent fact that Apple’s conduct in their subscription requirements IS against the law and stinks of the skunk of greed!

More details in this report from the Wall Street Journal By Thomas Catan And Nathan Koppel :

U.S. antitrust enforcers have begun looking at the terms Apple Inc. set this week for media companies who want to sell their content on its popular iPad and other devices, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission’s interest in Apple’s new subscription service is at a preliminary stage, and might not develop into either a formal investigation or any action against the company. But it comes as Apple has attracted growing antitrust scrutiny in the U.S. and Europe.

A spokeswoman for the European Commission, the European Union’s executive arm, said Thursday that the commission was aware of the new subscription service and was “carefully monitoring the situation.”

The Justice Department and the FTC are both interested in examining whether Apple is running afoul of U.S. antitrust laws by funneling media companies’ customers into the payment system for its iTunes store—and taking a 30% cut, the people familiar with the situation said. The agencies both enforce federal antitrust laws and would have to decide which one of them would take the lead in the matter.

Representatives of the Justice Department, the FTC and Apple all declined to comment.

Apple’s rules don’t stop media companies from selling digital subscriptions on their own. But the company imposed restrictions that could make that option less attractive to customers, and steer more sales through its own system.

Apple keeps a tight grip over almost every aspect of its iPad tablet, iPhone and iPod music and video player. It decides which applications can run on them, and the devices work only with content delivered through its iTunes store.

That level of control has drawn complaints from publishers unhappy with the company’s subscription-sales terms.

Under Apple’s terms for the new service, companies that sell digital subscriptions to content on Apple devices would be required to make it available for sale through apps at the company’s iTunes App Store at the best available price.

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12/05/2010

iPad Falling Behind in the "Savior of Publishing" Race – And Rightfully So!


Holy shitswowski! What’s going on with Apple and it’s stupid approach to putting up roadblocks to potential magazine and newspaper publishing clients in it’s iTunes Store RE handling of subscriptions?

Many popular magazine and newspaper iPad apps have already been developed to allow selling digital versions through Apple…AND the so-called Apple visionaries (idiots is more like it) are not allowing the personal information of subscribers to be accessed and managed by the content providers themselves!

Why? What is the purpose of this greedy hoarding? This should be a win-win situation for all parties to be more monetarily successful. The more direct use of personal demographic info will result in more targeted success for the newspaper and mag clients AND should result in more volume biz for the Apple iTunes Store.

Can someone with more insight than I explain this to me?

If Apple stays on this dumb course I think the popular mags and newspapers will take their business elsewhere. And where is that, you might ask? To the upcoming and surging Google and Android platforms, of course!

Also, Apple is demanding too damn much of a cut (30%) to allow the apps! Remember that great line from the New York gubernatorial campaign: The rent is too damn high!

Read these previous posts of mine for more background on this issue:

From this blog, Time Magazine is Unhappy with iPad Publishing

From Writers Thought for Today Blog, Publishers Becoming Wary of Apple

Here is a current little ditty on iPad News: Apple, Publishers Clash on Subscriptions from iPad.net :

The iPad has been looked upon as the “savior” of the publishing industry, but relations between Apple and major publishers have hit an impasse that may be insurmountable. If the two cannot agree on key issues, the publishers may be taking their business elsewhere.

We’ve been hearing rumors for months that iPad apps for numerous popular magazine and newspaper titles will become available for subscriptions at the iTunes Store. Now the reasons for the delay have surfaced. According to Peter Kafka at MediaMemo, Apple and the publishers are “still miles apart” when it comes to the terms for how to sell subscriptions.

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