Publishers, Apple battle over iPad subscriptions

Jul 30, 2010
Finance

Publishers want to sell magazine subscriptions on the iPad but have been stymied by Apple (AAPL). Also in today’s App Industry Roundup, we look at why the $139 Kindle is a fine deal and point out that your apps may be spying on you. Publishers, Apple at odds Consumer magazine publishers have relied on two primary […]

Publishers want to sell magazine subscriptions on the iPad but have been stymied by Apple (AAPL). Also in today’s App Industry Roundup, we look at why the $139 Kindle is a fine deal and point out that your apps may be spying on you.

Publishers, Apple at odds

Consumer magazine publishers have relied on two primary methods of distribution to deliver their products to customers. One method was subscription-based home delivery and the other newsstand sales. Now, of course, there’s a third: electronic delivery.

And the brightest, most interesting method for electronic deliver currently is Apple’s iPad. Unfortunately for magazine publishers, the iPad so far does not allow for subscription delivery. That is becoming a sore point for publishers, according to this New York Post story, who are otherwise pleased that the iPad can deliver an alternative and exciting platform for content.

But publishers are not pleased with how Apple CEO Steve Jobs is denying subscription delivery to the iPad. “It is shaping up as a huge problem,” one publishing insider told the Post. The story cites a rejection for a subscription-based Sports Illustrated iPad app and points out that there are no subscriptions for titles that have done well on the iPad, including GQTime,  Vanity Fair and Wired.

The publishers seem to believe the issue will be resolved eventually, perhaps when other e-readers that run Google’s (GOOG) Android operating system hit the market. But for now, Jobs “is playing hardball,” the publishing executive told the Post, and “he has an enormous advantage.”Other dedicated reading devices allow for subscriptions.

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Most notably, the Amazon (AMZN) Kindle has catered to readers by allowing subscriptions to many of the nation’s newspapers and top magazines. Of course, the display is not nearly as exciting for these publications as on the iPad, and one could argue it’s pointless to pay for a Kindle subscription for newspapers when newspapers give away their content for free online (or through an App). But at least Amazon appears to be more helpful in encouraging publishers to experiment with digital products than Apple. Publishers need re-occurring revenue to survive and grow.

The $139 Kindle is a deal

Speaking of the Kindle, Amazon is shipping two new models at the end of August.

Of these new models, I think the $139 Kindle Wi-Fi is the way to go. The basic reason: If you have an Android phone, a BlackBerry (RIMM) or an iPhone, you can download the free Kindle app and get books anytime you want. Then when you get home, just sync your Kindle with your phone via your Wi-Fi network. That solves the immediate gratification problem and you can start reading on your mobile device the instant you download a book. You don’t need the always-available 3G wireless connection on the $189 Kindle.

Are your apps spying on you?

Mobile security firm Lookout Inc. “scanned nearly 300,000 free applications for Apple Inc.’s iPhone and phones built around Google Inc.’s Android software,” according to this Associated Press story. “It found that many of them secretly pull sensitive data off users’ phones and ship them off to third parties without notification.”

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Oops. This information came to light during the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas. Collected and leaked data, whether intentional or not, can include details about your contacts, pictures, text messages and your search history. Worse, this data may be shipped to advertisers to study, without your permission.

“We found that not only users, but developers as well, don’t know what’s happening in their apps, even in their own apps, which is fascinating,” John Hering, CEO of the San Francisco-based Lookout, told the AP.

Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy, doesn’t it?

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Eric Benderoff

Eric Benderoff is the principal of BendableMedia.com, an editorial services firm, and a founding member of the Appolicious content strategy team. His personal technology column for the Chicago Tribune has appeared in newspapers and websites nationwide. He is a regular guest on Chicago's WGN Radio and is a frequent commentator about consumer technology on national TV news programs.

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