Apple prepping subscription plan for newspapers?

Apple may be preparing a subscription plan for newspapers says the Mercury News. When iBooks was announced alongside iPad, but no similar offering for magazines and newspapers, it was curious. When friction resulted from magazines trying to roll their own subscriptions, it was noteworthy. Now, however, a solution might just be in place:

What makes this so much more complicated than apps or books is that newspaper and magazines aren't just after subscriber money, they want subscriber data. Their business is as much about who subscribes as how much. Apple is much the same, which is why they often talk about how many credit cards they have on file for iTunes accounts. There's gold in that data, in being able to segment and slice and dice it, aggregate and market on it. Media doesn't want to lose their subscribers to Apple and Apple doesn't want to lose their buyers to media. So how will they resolve this?

The Cupertino company has agreed to provide an opt-in function for subscribers to allow Apple to share with publishers their information, which includes vital data that news organizations use to attract advertisers, industry sources say.

It's not a done deal and it could get ugly. It's not how media is used to doing business, but then again this is a brave new world of online, app-centric business. Ironically, iTunes rise has disintermediated the traditional media middlemen, yet it's introducing Apple itself as a new, digital middleman.

That's it's opt-in for subscribers is good. Typically when you subscribe to a print edition, you're automatically opted-in.

What would you prefer, dozens of independent media apps with different accounts and methods of handling subscriptions, like the current print model, or a single solution tied to iTunes to handle all the digital media you want?

[Mercury News]

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Apple prepping subscription plan for newspapers?


I used to subscribe to 4 daily newspapers including Sunday Editions for a cost of over 100 dollars month. Ive cancelled them all and use the PressReader app and get them all plus as many daily papers across the country and the world that I want for less than 30 dollars a month! I would hate to see that go away now. Even the only-30 newspapers a month sub for 9.99 is a great bargain.

Apple often boasts of their millions of itunes users who all have credit cards tied to their accounts ready and willing to buy anything.

I would MUCH rather have all of my subscriptions (newspapers AND magazines) consolidated into one app (like, say, I don't know... THE iBooks APP!) I've been asking this question from day one of the iBooks intro: WHAT ABOUT MY MAGAZINES?! I know there are apps like Zinio out there, but I feel that iBooks could do a hell of a lot better with presentation and accessibility. I'm glad that it's on the table now (or at least semi-publicly). Hopefully I can read my Road&Track and Seattle Times through iBooks fairly soon!

Go Apple! Millions of active credit cards on file is something to be incredibly proud of, but it is a responsibility as well...
If this gets launched... I'll buy...

Either iMagazine or iBooks sounds just fine. However, w/folders, it's really not that big of a deal to me if they use apps, like Mac|Life. I have a feeling that some publishers might stick with the app for more control, but it seems that Apple could do a better job w/it for the most part. However, the most important concern for me is college student pricing. Considering I can still go get the print subscription for most magazines a lot cheaper than through iPad, it's not very compelling. I get that it costs more to make a digital magazine w/layout, but seriously? Look at the Wired app. I can go subscribe to that magazine for a year for $10 or by issues in the iPad at several bucks a pop. Just my $.02.

Actually i do prefer dozens of independent media apps with different accounts and methods of handling subscriptions. iTunes does not have the selection or availability of media, at least not books and movies, to run everything through them.

Subscriptions would be nice, newspapers, I don't see me subscribing to multiple newspapers, magazine would be nicer. I would actually pay a bit more to get all of my magazines via digital PDF but not if that means DRM'ing them to death. I can easily just download the pdf files elsewhere on the interwebs but I would like a nice simple and clean process.
That is IF Apple is capable of doing that.