Financial Times hopes against hope they can skirt Apple’s iPad app subscription rule

“The Financial Times wants to keep selling subscriptions for its digital news directly to readers rather than surrender control of new customers who sign up via Apple’s iPad, the managing director of said,” Georgina Prodhan reports for Reuters.

“Apple’s hit tablet computer, the iPad, has become a major driver of new subscriptions to, thanks to its large and crisp display, possibilities for interactive features and affluent customer base,” Prodhan reports. “But the FT values direct relations with its customers which allow it to tailor advertising and products to its audience, and is resisting Apple’s efforts to channel them through the App Store.”

“‘We don’t want to lose our direct relationship with our subscribers. It’s at the core of our business model,’ Rob Grimshaw told Reuters in an interview on Monday,” Prodhan reports. “He said he was hopeful of a positive outcome to negotiations with Apple, but added: ‘If it turns out that one or another channel doesn’t mix with the way we want to do business, there’s a large number of other channels available to us.'”

MacDailyNews Take: Grimshaw ought to be careful about making veiled threats when he doesn’t a leg to stand on. Apple requires publishers to first ask for permission from customers who choose to subscribe to publications from within iOS apps (customers can also opt instead to subscribe directly via the publishers’ sites) to access the customers’ personal information. Subscribing via FT’s website requires customers to give name, address, telephone number, email address, credit card number, credit card security code, along with job title, job responsibility, and industry. Make no mistake, forcing that information out of subscribers upfront is what is at the core of The Financial Times’ flawed business model.

Prodhan continues, “He added: ‘We have a great relationship with Apple.'”

MacDailyNews Take: That’s right, you’d better be very careful. The Financial Times needs Apple’s iPad far more than Apple’s iPad needs The Financial Times. Grimshaw is nuts if he really believes he’s “negotiating” with Apple, especially from a such a weak position.

Prodhan continues, “Grimshaw said had far more to lose by giving up its customer relationships to Apple than many other publishers, who had not yet developed a successful online business model. ‘We have something to lose,’ he said. ‘The publishing market as a whole is in a different situation.'”

MacDailyNews Take: Again, what does have to lose, exactly? Names, addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, credit card numbers, credit card security codes, along with job titles, job responsibilities, and industries; all forced out of customers at the time of subscription. That is precisely what The Financial Times does not want to lose. Apple’s App Store lets customers keep their information in one safe place, with Apple, not spread among X number of publishers, at the whim of their “security” or lack thereof.

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: With App Store subscriptions, Apple’s on the side of the consumer yet again. Anytime you read differently, it’s highly likely that it’s from a publication that wants to continue to be able to force your name, address, telephone number, email address, credit card number, credit card security code, job title, job responsibility, and industry from you at the time of subscription.

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. All we require is that, if a publisher is making a subscription offer outside of the app, the same (or better) offer be made inside the app, so that customers can easily subscribe with one-click right in the app. We believe that this innovative subscription service will provide publishers with a brand new opportunity to expand digital access to their content onto the iPad, iPod touch and iPhone, delighting both new and existing subscribers.Apple CEO Steve Jobs, February 15, 2011

Related articles:
Financial Times owner Pearson threatens to go ‘somewhere else’ over Apple’s iPad app subscription rules – March 1, 2011
The Independent foments ‘discontent’ over Apple, but presents precious little evidence – February 22, 2011
App Store subscriptions: Apple’s on the side of the consumer yet again – February 17, 2011
Apple debuts subscription service on the App Store; Steve Jobs: ‘Brand new opportunity’ for content publishers – February 15, 2011


  1. MDN shoes it’s Fanboi bias again. I have been an Apple customer & user since Apple ][ days, a shareholder since 2001, an iPad owner since launch and am a Financial Times customer.

    Don’t Eff with what isn’t broken. Leave my app and subscription alone.

    As to need, the FT doesn’t need Apple. Pearson, owner of both FT & The Economist are doing just fine, Thank You. BTW- they also own former Apple Subsidiary Power School and have made it a great success- something Apple was unable to do.

      1. Junk mail and telemarketing calls are not the problem. They may also have an opt-in/opt-out for the user. What’s worse is the credit card info.
        But there are financial transaction companies (e.g., Ogone in Belgium) that make it their core business to handle the financial info (and maintain security). Using those services, the merchant only needs to transfer the user to their secure page to finalize the financial transaction, and the merchant never gets the credit card info.

    1. Nothing you’ve pecked out above in any way discounts what MDN has so clearly stated, fsckwit.

      And, yes, when alive, I was a misguided statist/socialist who’s largely responsible for the infection of the entitlement culture in America, including the huge “Social Security” ponzi scheme and its accompanying stifling financial burden that looms like a cloud over everything in the country. Today, they’e call me a “progressive.”

      What you need to get out of the mess you’re in now is a nice big dose of Reaganomics coupled with sensible military spending as the Cold War has already been won by Reagan himself.

      1. Off topic much?

        I don’t know which is worse, your political spam or the next guy’s spam spam. Is there a connection here? Cause if so, you need to spell it out a whole lot better. Otherwise, go back to Red State where you belong.

        Unlike some here I’m not against political chitchat when there’s a plausible connection to the Apple story, but this looks like just spam to me…

    2. You seem to be misunderstanding — Apple’s position in no way threatens your app or subscription. Existing subscribers to a publication (as well as those subscribing via the publisher’s alternative sales channels such as the web site) are unaffected and unbound by the conditions. The issue is those signing up through the app. In other words, those who’ve first elected to initiate their relationship with the publisher’s material via the iTunes ecosystem.

    3. “when the publisher brings an existing or new subscriber to the app, the publisher keeps 100 percent and Apple earns nothing.”

      You’re an existing customer to FT. For you, everything’s just like it’s always been. You are free to blissfully give all the personal info you want to FT for as long as you want. Enjoy! And stop complaining that the rest of us now have an alternative to feeding the ad-monster.

  2. Sometimes I wish the MDN would remember that their is a whole economy that doesn’t involve Apple. iPad subscriptions are a nice bonus to businesses but some have developed very nicely since WAY before the iPad or iPhone came along &, get this, don’t need the extra iPad cash to be even more successful. The Economist is another example & there are loads more. Might be an idea to remember that before penning toss like this.

    1. Right…so if those publications don’t need Apple or the iPad then they’re not losing anything by not having those customer’s info since they never would have had those customers without the iPad and Apple. Only customers brought to the company by Apple are able to opt out of giving the subscription company their info. Either the company needs Apple and the customers it brings them or they don’t; you can’t have it both ways.

  3. MDN your take on this one is wrong. I have been an FT reader since 1965 but when I retired in 2005 I no longer passed a news agents so became a subscriber. By this time the web subscription was mature and straight forward. I was able to opt out of my information being used for marketing so the MDN ranting about Apple protecting me as a consumer is not valid. I am not aware of my receiving any unsolicited mail through my subscription to the FT. I cannot say the same about the information that I gave to my bank, a company that I would expect to be more careful with my personal details.
    At the moment I do not own an iPad and the lack of a signal means that I do not even aspire to owning an iPhone. However as a long time subscriber to the FT web access I would object very strongly to having to pay extra to be able to read material on my iPad just because Apple want their cut. I would expect to be able to access a service that I have paid for by any method that is convenient to me. The FT have had a system in place for nearly ten years, Apple are very late to this party and I am grateful to the FT for standing up for my interests.

    1. FT standing up for your interests? lol!

      Sure! They’re interested in your Names, addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, credit card numbers, credit card security codes, along with job titles, job responsibilities, and industries.

      Regarding the “opt out” option, why do you honestly think they still cultivate that information? (I’ll give a hint that it’s NOT in your best interests)

      Apple is attempting to protect your personal information, and your not understanding of this fact leaves me to think that you are astroturfing for FT’s benefit.

      1. Again it needs to be pointed out, Apple is asking for their subscription service to be added AS WELL as FT’s system. If you want to use FT’s subscription service, use it. No change.

    2. Farrfetched: MDN isn’t wrong and you are missing the point. Apple’s customer-centric subscription system allows consumers to use just ONE DATABASE to control their private data. We don’t have to juggle “relationships” with many different publishers and try to guess which one has misused our private information.

      Why do so many publishers (and their apologists) fail to get this? Many of us don’t want “customer relationships” and regular email contact with the creators of every publication we read…Sometimes, we want to read and be left alone. For every trustworthy publisher, their are many fly-by-night operators that can’t be trusted with our private data.

      Get over it.

      1. Of course Apple never uses your data for it’s own internal purposes. And it gets no advantage in routing all of your transactions through its servers. They certainly would never use the combination of your financial data, app purchases, music purchases, TV purchases, periodical purchases, etc. to make strategic product plans.

    3. When I subscribed to The Daily I choose to share my Apple data with them, but that was my choice. Others I might not want to do so.

      Anyone who REQUIRES me to go to their web site and give personal information wont have me as a customer.
      Same goes for podcasts.

    4. RIP American Family Publishers. Publishers Clearing House gets better than 30% of the subscription. Plus you get a mailbox full of spam. Oh sorry Junk Mail.

    5. It’s written very plainly in Apple’s agreement with the publication companies that they have to charge the same for a subscription on the iPad as they charge on the web, not charge more for one then another. Also, you’re free to subscribe through the publication’s website and not through the App Store if you so choose.

  4. ‘If it turns out that one or another channel doesn’t mix with the way we want to do business, there’s a large number of other channels available to us.’”
    Apple should pull their app and send them to the next channel.

  5. Sometimes the disingeniousness of MDN is just stunning…

    So why exactly would Apple have a higher privacy ethos then magazines? What does MDN think how they feed their iAd busniness with data, from fairy tale dust?
    And why would the publishers of say an archeology or gardening magazine have any less of a customer ethos upfront then any other business?

    i actually don’t mind if the magazines I would subscribe too use my data for more personalized ads, it supports the magazine and helps their baseline so they can go for even better or more articles. Nothing wrong with that.

    Also, why the 30% cut for subs? I really feel that;s a bit much for handling a payment. The magazines themselves are served from the magazine;s severs with the app allready directly paid for. Why not 5% or so (still generous for handling a payment) and get the whole publishing industry on your side?

    Shame on you MDN for FUD;ing many very decent publishers with utter disrespect for any truth. How quickly you have forgotten that for years MDN was the only larger mac site that actually did not run on mac hard and software (most here wont know that little tidbit), and one of the few that hides behind the cowards wall of anonimity. Even scumbags like Thurrot and Dvorcak at least publish their garbage under their real names…

    Shameless dishonest cowards you are….

    Sorry, but this take really put me off.

    1. Q: So why exactly would Apple have a higher privacy ethos then magazines?

      A: Apple’s track record compared to magazines. Magazines sell your personal information. Hope this helps! (Hope this helps YOU, not the magazine you work for.)

      1. Do you always think (if one can call it that) in generalisations, black-and-white views and ad hominem attacks?

        No, I do not work for a magazine – why do you think I am? – and the (admittetly few) magazines that I am subscribed to have a privacy track record just as fien as that of Apple. Sure there are bad apples out there – like in any bisniess – but there are many decent publishers too.

        Question for you then: how do you then think how exactly Apple intends to get into the ad business without using personal data? You believe that is possible?

        1. Q: No, I do not work for a magazine – why do you think I am?

          A: Your incessant dialogue protecting magazine ethos (of which there isn’t any.) I repeat: Magazines sell your information. These magazines are upset that Apple is taking this opportunity away from them. Customers should be (and are) quite happy with this prospect.

          I never gave you a question.. I only gave you an answer… Please, no more questions! (lol j/k) Okay fine then I’ll try to help you out with iAd:

          Apple’s whole concept is to make ads (iAd) compelling and entertaining. Given the “entertainment factor” of their ads, that is how they plan to get into advertising.

          I prefer black & white views than your gray and shady tactics ala FUD. Reality is great! You should try it sometime (even if it isn’t in your magazine’s best interests.)

        2. Apple makes money from iAds by people incorporating those adds into their applications. You’re free to not use an App that had ads in it. Apple does not need to sell it’s customer personal data (like name, address, email etc) to an ad agency because they’re making money hand over fist from hardware and software.
          Magazines make a large chunk of their money from selling customer info, next biggest chunk from selling ad space in their publication and finally a small amount from subscription fees. Apple doesn’t need to make money from selling customer data in this way.

  6. Wow, what a bunch of butt-hurt crybabies.

    Gee-Wiz Apple won’t let us put out cheap shite content filler and make our real money selling our customers private info. Those bastards. NOW we will have to make our money with good (more expensive) content. BooooHooooHooo.

    Look folks these crybabies are just like the music cartels…..
    They produce just enough *good* content and then rely on filler. They make their real money by producing *filler* and selling your privacy.

    I personally am glad that El Jobso has the eggs (and power) to make these ass clowns stop selling our privacy and make $ the old fashion way. Earn it.

    BTW Apple is not preventing these weenies from screwing over the consumer, they are just stopping them from screwing over the consumer on Apple devices.

  7. I would like to see Apple go farther and not allow subscriptions at all unless the publisher also provides an option to provide editorial content ad-free for a higher price. I would gladly pay the true price of most media I consume if given the choice. The inability to choose ad-free content models now that the Internet makes them technically achievable is nothing less than forcible rape of the mind.

    And yes, “FDR” and all the other rightwing nut jobs out there I would be ABSOLUTELY in favor of Government regulation to force all advertisers/publishers/content deliverers to comply with this simple and consumer-friendly principle. It’s fine if most people would rather prostitute their minds than pay fair value for their content, but those of us who would rather have FREEDOM OF THOUGHT should be allowed to make that choice.

    1. Totally agree. One of the biggest things that keeps me in the Apple ecosystem is their (largely) ad-free model. The whole point of the iPod and iTunes Music Store was to give you choice and a noise-free, but premium, channel. It annoys me that publishers can charge for apps and content and still plaster it with promotional messaging.

    2. Nothing more terrifying than hearing your typical leftwing nut job equating “force” with “FREEDOM”.

      Progressives honestly believe liberty comes down the barrel of a gun, and have no qualms coercing those who disagree with them with threats.

      Hypocrisy, your name is Lib Dem.

      1. I really do not understand your comment. I am guessing that your gun comment is a metaphor for regulation. If so, then my response is that I, personally, am sick of the audacity of advertisers with their sense of entitlement to get into my space, my face, my phone, my personal records, or my my crack in the door as if I were their little consumer slave. So, yes!, if a person were stalking me, I’d get a restraining order and no one would fault me for it. But right-wing nut jobs like you are always looking out for the rights of the corporation over the individual. You spew the ridiculous notion that companies should not be restrained in any way no matter how abusive their business model is, or how they cheat or steal. What is truly amazing to me is how The Chorus (Limbaugh, Beck, etc.) have so successfully manipulated their followers to fight fervently and viciously against their own interests. Might as well just bend over and say, “Thank you, sir! May I please have another!”

  8. “We don’t want to lose our direct relationship with our subscribers. It’s at the core of our business model”

    Selling customers’ personal info to spammers is the “core” of their business model? How does that constitute a direct relationship with customers?

    1. FT is not Time or some other lowball outfit. I do not get spammed from my account, nor do I get the daily dose of Reich-Wingnuttery delivered by the Murdoch Street Journal.
      FT is all about it’s business, has a largely select clientele and doesn’t abuse the relationship it had with it’s clients.

  9. I have to point out something very important to remember.

    While Financial Times can afford it… smaller magazine publishers wishing to go digital cannot afford the 30% take on Apple’s end.

    There’s more to it than this but this is the main concern about allowing Apple to take the sale rather than Apple allowing the sale outside of it’s payment system.

    1. Sorry but you’re wrong, most publications make the bulk of their money from ad space sales and selling customer data to ad agencies. The subscription fees are usually a small part of it. Physical media publishers (even the small ones) already pay a lot to brick and mortar places (usually much higher then 30%) to sell their products in these brick and mortar stores. Not to mention the cost of shipping and manufacture of physical media; paper doesn’t print it’s self after all.

  10. Guys – before you start to spam with inaccurate comments at least try to get your facts straight! According to the information that has been published so far:

    If you are a Financial Times subscriber then this makes absolutely no difference to you – You can carry on exactly as before – You should even be able to download iPad software and read the FT on it without any extra subscription (assuming the FT offers this option).

    If you want to become an FT subscriber via the iPad you will have two options. Subscribe through iTunes OR subscribe through the FT website (again assuming the FT offers this option).

    Apple are not trying to claim 30% of the online revenue from the FT – Just 30% from the new customers they gain by publishing on the iPad – If existing customers and/or new customers sign up via the FT website Apple get nothing. Oh and that 30% is not just for handling payment – Apple also handle worldwide distribution of the application etc. same as they do for all other applications distributed through the App Store.

  11. LOL@”direct relationship with our subscribers” as if there was some level of reciprocity. Magazines take data and sell it to information clearinghouses. They proceed to spam you with more solicitations – some germaine to your interests, others in no way related to your interests. To see people in comments defending this practice is pretty hilarious. If I want to give my personal information to FT, I’ll make it a point to opt-in when I subscribe.

    Google is more than willing to hand over all the customer’s information to publishers and do it for less of a cut than Apple’s asking. That offer – which was made to publishers in the midst of the 30% in-app purchase brouhaha – should tell you all you need to know about the difference between Apple and Google.

  12. Here’s an interesting post about the cost of newspaper manufacture and distribution:

    According to them, the price of the paper matches the cost to produce it. Advertising provides the profit.

    If that is the case then providing 30% of the revenue from subscriptions should be a good deal.
    However the interesting point from the post was that advertising revenue is less for online media than paper. Whilst they gain from reduce distribution costs this may not make up for the loss of advert revenue.

  13. Everytime I sign a subscription card and put an extra character in there. The minute I get junk mail with that extra character I know my source. But guess what? I wrote in RED on the card, “Disemination of this information is strictly Prohibited!” Did they grant me that wish? HELL NO! That’s for EVERY MAGAZINE! Bastages!

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