Apple Subs: Publishers Seek Clarity, FT Concerned, Some Sign Up

The response from many publishers to Apple’s subscription announcement has been a shellshocked “errrr…” – many are confused exactly how they are impacted and are quickly seeking clarity from Apple.

It is still unclear how Apple’s proposed new subscription business will work for publishers,” a Financial Times spokesperson tells paidContent:UK. “But we obviously have concerns over changes to an approach that has so far worked well for our readers and the broader publishing ecosystem around tablet devices, and that may compromise our business model.

“We have a fair and open approach for customers whereby we offer digital access to FT journalism for one price and enable access across multiple platforms for no additional fee. It is necessary to have a direct relationship with the customer to enable this to happen. The iPad and iPhone are two of those channels, but it is a market that is developing quickly and new devices are coming to the market at an increasing rate.”

See our maths on how the FT could be affected.

News International is believed to be assessing what the changes mean via its U.S. mothership News Corp. (NSDQ: NWS), whose The Daily app was a template for Apple’s subscriptions and was developed closely with Apple.

Telegraph Media Group is understood to be considering using Apple’s system for a paid upgrade to its debut iPad app, due in the next couple of months.

The Economist, too, is reviewing Apple’s announcement and guidelines.

Although some publishers had already spoken with Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) and the announcement had been previewed for weeks, there is minimal understanding of what it all means – or maybe publishers are privately pushing back against Cupertino.

But concern and uncertainty is not universal. Bonnier‘s Popular Science and the Exact Editions replica vendor will use Apple subs and Future, which has only two iPad-specific, single-copy versions of its magazines amongst 50 Zinio replicas, is so confident that, less than 24 hours after Apple’s announcement, it said it would use Apple’s system for one of them, T3.

The arrival of subscriptions comes at the perfect time,” Future’s technology portfolio director Niall Ferguson says. “We are now able to offer a selection of value offerings from a free trial and single issue purchase, through to 90, 180 and 360 day subscriptions.”

But, unlike the FT and other titles which already charge successfully, publishers like Future, whose digital charging odyssey was so far modest, have only growth to find in Apple’s subs…

Future says digital sales of T3, which was already available as a Zinio replica, rocketed by 5,000 percent to 10,000 per month thanks to its single-copy iPad launch…

If you do the maths on that, T3 was only ever shifting a measly 195 copies per month through Zinio. Why wouldn’t such publishers, who may be charging for the first time, throw their lot in with Apple?