Apple changes course on in-app subscription policy

In a surprising move, Apple apparently has decided to change its policy on in-app subscriptions.

"Apps can read or play approved content (specifically magazines, newspapers, books, audio, music, and video) that is subscribed to or purchased outside of the app, as long as there is no button or external link in the app to purchase the approved content," Apple's new rule reads, according to MacRumors, which first reported on the change. "Apple will not receive any portion of the revenues for approved content that is subscribed to or purchased outside of the app."

That stands … Read more

Financial Times Web app skirts subscriptions fracas

The Financial Times has opted to put its resources into developing a Web app over a native software client to deliver written content to readers on tablets and other devices. The news comes two months after the publication said that it was negotiating with Apple over the terms of the tech giant's now four-month old subscription program.

The timing is of special interest given yesterday's announcement by Apple of "Newsstand," an app that's been built into its upcoming iOS 5 software for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad that will put newspapers and magazines into … Read more

Apple's iCloud: The halo effect

Apple has inked its licensing pact with Universal Music Group and will reportedly charge $25 a year for an iCloud subscription. That revenue stream--once you factor in splits with the music industry--is essentially peanuts, but the value of iCloud will go well beyond the profit and loss statement.

First the news, CNET's Greg Sandoval reports that Apple has cut a licensing deal with Universal Music. That move gives Apple all the major labels and Universal brings U2 and Lady Gaga to the iCloud party. Meanwhile, the L.A. Times reports that Apple will "eventually" charge $25 a year for iCloud and sell advertising around the service.

When you factor in the revenue split with the music industry--labels 58 percent, publishers 12 percent and Apple 30 percent--Steve Jobs & Co. will get $7.50 in revenue for each iCloud subscription.

As for the rudimentary math, Apple is projected to move 184 million iPhone units in calendar 2011 and 2012, according to Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster. We'll assume that half of those iPhone subscribers will ultimately pay for iCloud with Apple getting $7.50. That's $690 million in revenue a calendar year.

Apple is also expected to sell 75 million iPad units over calendar 2011 and 2012. Again we'll assume half of those iPad users buy the iCloud subscription. Those iPad units will deliver $281 million in revenue a year in calendar 2012.

As for the iPod, Apple is expected to move 81 million units over calendar 2011 and 2012. We'll assume one third of those iPod users will get iCloud--it's unclear whether the Nano will be able to… Read more

Wired for iPad now free for subscribers

Happy day! Just a few weeks after Fortune, Sports Illustrated, and Time Magazine offered free iPad access to print subscribers, technology mag Wired has made the same move: if you subscribe to the print edition, you get current and back issues in the iPad app, no extra charge.

(Full disclosure: I'm an occasional contributor to Wired.)

That is, of course, the way magazine subscriptions should work. As publishers have discovered, subscribers feel insulted when you ask them to pay twice for content. I know I did.

With Wired, all I had to do was enter my subscriber number (which … Read more

Apple's cloud music hang-up


Apple has deals with three of the big music labels to license a new cloud music service. And it is in talks to close a deal with holdout Universal Music Group, the world's biggest music company.

But when Apple gets its Universal deal done, it still won't be ready to launch.

That's because Apple has yet to nail down terms with the big music publishers, who own a separate set of rights. And Steve Jobs will need their sign-off, too.

While Apple came to terms with Warner Music and EMI Music weeks ago, and has now struck … Read more

Playboy offers every issue of the magazine online--for a price

For those of you who like to keep abreast of the latest developments in the digital magazine world, hold on to the respective garment of your choice.

Starting today, for 8 bucks a month (or $60 for the year), you can get online access to every issue of Playboy (does anyone still even read it?), thanks to the company's new Web-based subscription service,

This isn't the first time Playboy has offered the magazine in bulk. Last year, it released a portable hard drive with every issue up to December 2009. So if you bought that, … Read more

As iFlow Reader app closes, harsh words for Apple

Update 5/12: CNET has posted an expanded Q&A with BeamItDown co-founder and iFlow Reader developer Dennis Morin.

Some interesting news from the world of e-reading apps in the land of iOS: BeamItDown is shuttering its iFlow Reader app on May 31, saying "Apple has decided that it wants all of the e-book business in iOS for itself and it has has made mid-game rule changes that make it impossible for anyone but Apple to sell e-books at a profit on iOS."

Just like the Kindle, Nook, and Kobo apps for iOS, the iFlow Reader app for iPhone and iPad has an integrated e-bookstore. Apple has reportedly set a deadline of June 30 for developers to alter their apps to reflect the new terms for subscriptions in the Apple Store, which requires companies to give Apple a 30 percent cut on sales their apps generate.

In the past, e-reading apps like iFlow, Kindle, and Nook have avoided paying the cut by sending customers to a Web-based interface outside the app. Starting in June, however, Apple has said it will require developers to sell content from only within the app.

Fear of reprisals from Apple has kept most companies mum on the looming issue, but the folks at BeamItDown Software who make the iFlow Reader let their anger--excuse the pun--flow freely. It is one of the harsher public condemnations of Apple we've seen. … Read more

Time Magazine for iPad: A real treat for subscribers

In case you missed the news, Time Inc. recently struck a deal with Apple to give the iPad edition of the magazine to print subscribers--no extra charge.

As a longtime subscriber myself, I was delighted. I'd never so much as installed the Time app, because there was no way I was going to pay twice for the same magazine. (Are you listening, other publishers?) My thinking: a print subscription should include a digital subscription, end of story.

While traveling this week, I spent my first quality time with Time Magazine for iPad, bouncing between coverage of the Royal Wedding and the Navy SEALs who ended Bin Laden. And, of course, reading every word penned by Joel Stein.

You know what? This app is fantastic. It does a perfect job recreating the print edition's content while augmenting it with iPad-friendly features (including embedded videos and swipe-able slideshows--though not nearly enough of either). It's easy to navigate and thoughtful in its design.

It also makes certain kinds of content more accessible. For example, many stories in the print edition I just skim through, usually because of their intimidating length. Blame my blogger mentality, but I find page after page of mostly text to be daunting. But in the app, long stories scroll vertically; you're not flipping pages, not faced with what looks like a textbook chapter's worth of material. Thus, I now find myself reading, and enjoying, longer stories.… Read more

PlayStation Network still down

Links from Monday's episode of Loaded:

Things just keep getting worse for the PlayStation Network.

Apple is now the world's most valuable brand.

Wired, GQ, and more mags coming to the iPad.

HP jumps into the 3G data market.

HP line of laptops refreshed.

LinkedIn goes public.

New Yorker for iPad gets in-app subscriptions

Fewer than three months since Apple's introduction of in-app subscriptions for the iPad, publisher Conde Nast has hopped on board with the digital version of The New Yorker.

A new version of The New Yorker app, which went out as an update last night, adds the capability to subscribe to either a month or a year of the publication through Apple's recently-introduced subscription program. This option joins the existing $4.99 per issue option that's been available since the app was introduced in October, and now lets current print subscribers of the weekly magazine plug in their … Read more