iOS is here to save print (for a 30% cut)

The media world is on fire with news that Apple is finally allowing subscriptions in iOS apps! I want in, too, so here’s Apple’s press release and my blow-by-blow commentary.

CUPERTINO, California—February 15, 2011—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.

Cupertino is where Apple is headquartered. Cupertino is headquartered in California. At least today, Feb. 15. (Note to journalism students: this is called a dateline, despite its emphasis on place.)

Subscriptions purchased from within the App Store will be sold using the same App Store billing system that has been used to buy billions of apps and In-App Purchases. Publishers set the price and length of subscription (weekly, monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly, bi-yearly or yearly). Then with one-click, customers pick the length of subscription and are automatically charged based on their chosen length of commitment (weekly, monthly, etc.). Customers can review and manage all of their subscriptions from their personal account page, including canceling the automatic renewal of a subscription. Apple processes all payments, keeping the same 30 percent share that it does today for other In-App Purchases.

Apple continues to try branding generics (note the capital letters): App Store, In-App Purchases, Publishers, Customers. Don’t try to use these terms without Apple’s permission. One-click is, apparently, a compound adjective and different than a single click in Apple’s usage. Apple likely didn’t call it One Click because Amazon has patented the amazing innovation that is clicking a button to buy something. And I’m still unclear about who picks the length of the subscription: the publisher or the consumer.

“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. We believe that this innovative subscription service will provide publishers with a brand new opportunity to expand digital access to their content onto the iPad, iPod touch and iPhone, delighting both new and existing subscribers.”

Nearly a third of a subscription price seems like a hefty amount to charge publishers for reselling subscriptions. Maybe junior-high students would be pleased with such a cut (in my day, we were given little colored cotton balls with feet and eyes glued on). But don’t worry, it’s just a philosophy so — oh it’s a take-it-or-leave it philosophy? Hmmm. Don’t forget, subscribing for things is innovative. Or maybe it’s just the charging for subscriptions? Or maybe that’s just a word Apple likes to attach to as many things it does as possible.

Publishers who use Apple’s subscription service in their app can also leverage other methods for acquiring digital subscribers outside of the app. For example, publishers can sell digital subscriptions on their web sites, or can choose to provide free access to existing subscribers. Since Apple is not involved in these transactions, there is no revenue sharing or exchange of customer information with Apple. Publishers must provide their own authentication process inside the app for subscribers that have signed up outside of the app. However, Apple does require that if a publisher chooses to sell a digital subscription separately outside of the app, that same subscription offer must be made available, at the same price or less, to customers who wish to subscribe from within the app. 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.

Leverage? Whatever. And “publishers may no longer provide links in their apps which allow the customer to purchase content or subscriptions outside of the app”? Anyway, remember when the iPad going to save the old print philosophy model? LOL.

Protecting customer privacy is a key feature of all App Store transactions. 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. The use of such information will be governed by the publisher’s privacy policy rather than Apple’s. Publishers may seek additional information from App Store customers provided those customers are given a clear choice, and are informed that any additional information will be handled under the publisher’s privacy policy rather than Apple’s.

“Here,” says Apple, “have a bone. A small bone.”

The revolutionary App Store offers more than 350,000 apps to consumers in 90 countries, with more than 60,000 native iPad™ apps. Customers of the more than 160 million iOS devices around the world can choose from an incredible range of apps in 20 categories, including games, business, news, sports, health, reference and travel.

“Can we use ‘innovative App Store’?”
“No, I don’t think so. What’s the thesaurus got?
“How about ‘revolutionary App Store’?”

Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork, and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple is reinventing the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and has recently introduced its magical iPad which is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices.

“How about ‘digital music revolution’?”
“Too techno-y?”
“Look, dude, I’m just trying to go home.”

Press Contacts:

LOL. Like you’ll get a call back.

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