Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Apple, Time Inc. Solve Their Subscription Squabble

Apple and Time Inc. have settled their differences: The giant publisher is now selling subscriptions to its iPad magazines directly from the apps themselves.

If that seems like non-news, consider that it took the two companies two years to figure this out.

Up until now, Time Inc. has been the notable exception to Apple’s digital subscription plan, which lets publishers sell access to their digital titles from within its iTunes store, in exchange for certain concessions. For instance, the publishers don’t automatically get to see all of a subscriber’s personal information, and Apple collects a 30 percent fee for each subscription it sells at its store.

Again, unless you’re in publishing and/or paying attention to this stuff, you wouldn’t notice. But here’s what the subscription page at Sports Illustrated looked like on Wednesday — note that there’s no way to actually subscribe via the app:

And here’s what it looks like now:

What changed? It could be as simple as Time Inc. trying to boost sales, which haven’t been stellar recently — a slump at its People magazine title is particularly troublesome for the publisher. Or perhaps parent company Time Warner got some other concession from Apple for one of its other units, like HBO or Turner.

Worth noting: Earlier this week, Tim Cook announced a tie-up with Facebook, another company Apple has tussled with for the last couple years. One more of these peace-making deals and we can call it a trend.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work