Apple Announces Subscriptions for the iOS App Store

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iPad Magazines

Apple has finally announced their new subscription services available to publishers on the App Store. Here’s the opening of their press release on this today:

Apple® today announced a new subscription service available to all publishers of content-based apps on the App Store℠, including magazines, newspapers, video, music, etc. This is the same innovative digital subscription billing service that Apple recently launched with News Corp.’s “The Daily” app.

Here are a few of the most interesting / potentially controversial points about the new subscription service that stood out in the Apple release:

— Apple will take their standard 30% cut on all subscriptions

Here’s their reasoning on that:

Our philosophy is simple—when Apple brings a new subscriber to the app, Apple earns a 30 percent share; when the publisher brings an existing or new subscriber to the app, the publisher keeps 100 percent and Apple earns nothing,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “All we require is that, if a publisher is making a subscription offer outside of the app, the same (or better) offer be made inside the app, so that customers can easily subscribe with one-click right in the app.

— Publishers can offer alternative subscription options outside of their apps – but all such options have to be offered within their app as well. Publishers can also offer free subscriptions (to iOS versions) to existing (print or online) subscribers. And here’s another little catch in this area:

In addition, publishers may no longer provide links in their apps (to a web site, for example) which allow the customer to purchase content or subscriptions outside of the app.

— Users will be given a choice about providing any personal information to publishers …

Customers purchasing a subscription through the App Store will be given the option of providing the publisher with their name, email address and zip code when they subscribe.

If they agree to share their information, it will be used according to the publisher’s privacy policies, not Apple’s.

This seems like mostly good news for iOS users, though likely not such great news for publishers. The ability to offer free subscriptions to existing subscribers should be a win for both camps, but some of the other ground rules seem pretty tough on the publishers at first glance.

Then again, losing Apple’s 30% cut may not be that hard to swallow given the lower delivery costs associated with iOS editions – and the access to personal information has been abused by print publishers for years, so it’s hard to shed too many tears for them on that subject.

It’s going to be fascinating to see what sort of subscription deals we’ll see offered for iPad and iOS publications in coming months.

I hope that at some point in the not-too-distant future Apple will add a Newsstand app / store for all our newspaper and magazine subscriptions – or, better still, have a dedicated section of the iBooks app for this. It’s all reading – and I’d much rather store all my iPad newspaper and magazine content there than have it littering home screens or stored in folders.

What do you all think of the new subscription model? What do you hope to see offered by some of your favorite titles?


Patrick Jordan

Founder and Editor in Chief of iPad Insight. Husband, father to a lovely daughter, Commander of the Armies of the North, dog lover (especially Labs), Austinite, former Londoner, IT consultant, huge sports nut, iPad and mobile tech blogger, mobile apps junkie.

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4 thoughts on “Apple Announces Subscriptions for the iOS App Store”

  1. Please, let this mean that the New Yorker will cost the same for the iPad as it does for a years subscription to the actual magazine.

    This will be good for some and bad for others – it’s as simple as that. Users will decide what happens in the end.

  2. Readers should remember that magazine publishers don’t sell magazines to readers, they sell readers to advertisers. Taking a cut off the subscription income from a publisher cannot really be such a blow, regardless of their whining, since they subscription income is a fraction of the revenue a publisher takes from a magazine. More interesting for them is the ability to claim large numbers of upscale readers on iOS devices, which should be very attractive for many advertisers.

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