Conde Nast jumps into the in-app subscription game

Mon, May 9, 2011


Apple in mid-February generated a firestorm of controversy when it rolled out in-app subscriptions as an option to publishers. Using the same billing system Apple already uses for in-app purchases, the new scheme enables publishers to set up recurring subscriptions with customers that results in new issues of a publication being delivered automatically to a user’s iPad. Upon signing up, customers can choose the length of their subscription and can subsequently manage all of their subscriptions from their personal account page.

Okay, so far so good. But what really caused folks to take notice was Apple’s plan to take a 30% cut from all new subscriptions that originate from within the iOS ecosystem.

In a press release at the time, Steve Jobs explained: “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.”

Not only were publishers wary of giving up 30% of their subscription revenue to Apple, but other rules mandated by the powers that be in Cupertino dictated that any deal a publisher offers to its print subscribers must also be made available to its iPad subscribers. Furthermore, and particularly frustrating to publishers, was Apple’s refusal to divulge demographic information to publishers unless a user proactively decides to opt-in.

So with all of that working in the background, some folks openly wondered if Apple would be able to get publishers to sign on the dotted line with Apple.

Lo and behold, Apple keeps striking deal after deal.

The New York Post is reporting that publishing giant Conde Nast will begin offering in-app subscriptions for a number of its publications on the iPad as soon as next week.

Conde is expected to make the New Yorker available next week to capitalize on coverage of Osama bin Laden’s death.

The New Yorker will reportedly be the first publication to get the in-app subscription treatment, with the feature expected to roll-out to 7 other publications in the next few weeks, including Wired, Golf Digest, Vanity Fair, GQ, and Allure.

Annual subscriptions will run at about $19.99 while the price for an individual issue will check in at about $1.99.

Late last week we reported that the Hearst Corporation was also planning to roll out in-app subscriptions to a number of its more popular publications, including Cosmopolitan, Esquire, and Popular Mechanics.

Meanwhile, news also broke last week that Time Inc. struck a deal to offer its print subscribers free access to iPad editions of its issues.



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