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2May/11Off

Good sign for users as Apple compromises on subscriptions

Apple's iOS subscription rules issued in February were filled with bad news for major publishers, media-related apps like Kindle and Hulu and, most important of all, users. But we have a sign today that Apple may be relenting on at least one of the more onerous limitations.

Time Inc. said it has received permission from Apple to let its existing print subscribers to magazines like Sports Illustrated read the iPad editions for free. That's contrary to the Apple rules requiring that digital subscriptions must be sold in-app (with a 30% cut to Apple) if such access is sold anywhere else. Still, there are other issues in dispute, as the Wall Street Journal explains:

Time Inc. and other major publishers have yet to agree with Apple on terms for selling subscriptions to their iPad editions, the next step beyond making them available to existing print subscribers. Talks are hung up on Apple's resistance to sharing information with publishers about their iPad customers, which publishers say is critical to applying the "TV everywhere" model to magazines.

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.

Time Inc. executives say Mr. Edelson, who is Time Inc.'s general counsel, has quietly been spearheading talks with Apple for some time and meeting frequently with Eddy Cue, Apple's vice president of Internet services. They say the latest deal to make iPad editions free for print subscribers is a sign the two sides are moving closer.

-Wall Street Journal, May 2, 2011

Posted by Aaron Pressman

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