Subscriptions

If Rdio and Weight Watchers can't even keep their apps updated, what good are subscriptions?

Subscriptions are nothing new. For generations we've subscribed to magazines, newspapers, TV channels, and more. Software-as-a-service has been popular for a while now as well, and slowly, steadily, subscription-based apps have rolled out across the App Store. But with that power comes responsibility. You want a regular, reliable stream of monthly payments from me? Well, I want a regular, reliable stream of updates and support from you!

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Apple and Microsoft reportedly fighting over revenue sharing, SkyDrive app caught in the crossfire

Apple and Microsoft are reportedly wrestling over Apple’s 30% cut of items sold in the App Store, specifically SkyDrive subscription revenue for the SkyDrive app. The SkyDrive app was intended to not only allow users to view and open their files, but to upgrade their storage though the iOS app. According to the App Store rules, however, Apple's entitled to a 30% cut of any in-app purchases. According to Alex Wilhelm of The Next Web, however, it's gotten even more complicated:

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iPhone and iPad gifts for Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is coming up fast, and if your lover loves their iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad, you're in luck, there are some fantastic device, app, accessory, and media gifts to thrill them and score you major brownie points. Whether you're romantic enough to prepare well in advance, or if you're scrambling to stay off the couch, sit back and get your groove warmed up -- Rene and I decided to do a little written ZEN and TECH this week and help you pick out the perfect Valentine's Day gifts for your special someone.

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Bug: iOS 5 Newsstand icons out of place on iPhone and iPad Home screen

I noticed an oddity on the Home screen of my iPad 2 the other day. One of the magazines that I'm subscribed to in Newsstand decided to place itself on the Home screen, instead of where it's supposed to reside in the Newsstand folder. Luckily there's an easy fix, and today we're going to show you how to get around it if you ever experience the same problem.

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2011 Holiday Guides: iPhone and iPad gifts for last minute shoppers

It's the last minute and you forgot a gift for that special iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad lover in your life. Here are your choices: a) crash through the upstairs window, drive roll through the flowerbed, hotfoot it to the car, screech out the driveway, hit up the QuickyMart of air fresheners and chocoblocks; or b) check out the list below, tap a few links, type a few words, sit back and wait for the smiles.

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Time Inc. bringing all 21 US magazines to iPad

Time Inc. has announced they plan to bring all of their 21 US magazine titles to iPad and other tablets by year's end.

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iOS 5 to include 'Newsstand' for magazines and newspaper

Scott Forstall just announced on stage at WWDC a new iOS 5 feature called Newsstand, which integrates newspapers and digital magazines onto the iOS homescreen.

The app resides on the springboard but behaves much like iOS folders. Tap the app and you're presented with a thumbnail view of each magazine or newspaper you're subscribed to directly from the homescreen. All downloaded subscriptions are stored on the device for offline viewing. Newspapers look just like paper newspapers, and magazines look and behave like a real magazine.

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iPad subscriptions: The Telegraph, Esquire, Popular Mechanics, The Oprah Magazine, Time, Fortune, and Sports Illustrated

A bunch of print newspapers and magazines seem to be finally jumping on board the iPad subscription train, including The Telegraph (UK), Heart properties including Esquire, Popular Mechanics, and O, The Oprah Magazine, and Time has somehow swung a deal to get existing Time, Fortune, and Sports Illustrated readers free access via iPad.

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Did Apple make a mistake with free apps?

Manton has an interesting post up where he theorizes that a lot of the problems we've seen in the App Store, from the across the board 30% revenue cut Apple requires for paid apps, to in-app purchases, to iAds, and now subscriptions can all be traced back to Apple's decision to host free apps for free. In other words, that the cost of approving, hosting, marketing, and delivering free apps is high enough that Apple is struggling and stumbling to make enough off paid apps and content to cover it.

When Steve Jobs said it, offering free apps for so little seemed almost foolish, like Apple was compensating for the high 30% by giving too good a deal to free apps. Why not charge some hosting fee? Or why not give up exclusive distribution and let free apps be installed directly by the user without forcing everything through the App Store? Unlimited bandwidth, promotion in the store, and everything else just for the $99 dev program fee was a pretty good deal. And now I wonder if Apple hasn't been backpedaling ever since, trying to make up for that mistake.

So in order to run the App Store at just over break-even -- as Apple reports they during their financial results -- they need to earn enough off paid apps to defray the cost of free apps. They also have to make sure they don't lose revenue -- they can't let developers offer free apps, shouldered by Apple, with ads that make money for Google or that use subscriptions or other forms of outside payments as a way to circumvent the revenue sharing. (Which is why we said from the beginning Apple couldn't charge less than 30% for subscriptions or every paid and in-app purchasing app that could would just switch to subscriptions in order to keep more of the revenue.)

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