Though the iPad was heralded as the device that was going to save the newspaper industry while simultaneously revitalizing other print publications such as magazines, it’d be a long stretch to say that’s what actually happened.
In truth, publishing on the iPad has been the source for quite a bit of controversy as publishers struggle to hold onto vestiges of old business models that, suffice it to say, are antiquated.
But in a sign that there might be brighter days ahead, Time Inc., the country’s largest magazine publisher announced yesterday that it struck a deal with Apple whereby subscribers to its print edition would be able to subscribe to the iPad edition for free. Time Inc. owns Sports Illustrated, Time, and Fortune and until recently, folks interested in the iPad version of the magazine had to pay for it regardless of whether or not they received the paper edition.
Still, problems persist in other realms. Time has yet to come to agreeable terms with Apple with respect to managing iPad subscriptions. The crux of the issue is Apple’s intransigence in automatically sharing customer information with Time. Rather, Apple only wants to share customer information when users opt-in to such a deal. From the publishing side of the coin, customer information is key in attracting the right advertisers and considered an absolute necessity for marketing purposes.
The standoff has left most magazines with only one way to sell titles on the iPad: one issue at a time, which publishers say is asking too much of readers, particularly of the weekly magazines that form the core of Time Inc.’s business. In recent months, a number of the Time Inc. executives involved in talks with distribution partners like Apple and Google Inc. have left the company, leaving what some see as a gaping void in a critical area.
Back in February, Apple generated a fair amount of controversy when it announced that publishers with iPad apps would have to offer subscription deals that were at least as attractive as the deals they make available for print editions of their publications.