Time, Inc. executives are flurrying over what to make of digital subscriptions to its magazine business after Apple had rejected its Sports Illustrated app for the iPad (read our complete iPad Review), a device that has brought digital contents, including books, magazines, videos, and the web en vogue following its consumer release earlier this year. The app initially submitted by Time, Inc. included a model for subscription, to give customers who are willing to commit to a year’s worth of content reduced pricing similar to the magazine’s print model, but subscriptions have been a contentious issue between Apple and magazine publishers
Magazine creators, like Time, Inc., are concerned about user dissatisfaction on its online distribution through Apple’s App Store. In general, customers are not happy with the higher per issue, a la carte pricing model that’s currently being offered. Readers want magazine to switch over to a subscription plan that would possibly reduce the per issue price when pre-paid.
However, Time’s efforts have been rejected by Apple, and several theories are emerging as to why this may be. After having a large influence and sizable control over digital music sales, Apple may be exploring other venues for digital growth. The company had expanded to videos and TV shows, offering both purchases and rentals, and has recently ventured into the digital books distribution space (dominated by Amazon)with the iBooks app. Whether iBooks will venture into offering magazines is unclear as the app already offers support for audio and video content that enliven the content it can deliver to offer value beyond the printed page; multimedia content and rich embedded ads that are informative and interactive are the underlying ideas for bringing magazine contents into the digital world, and with iBooks supporting that perhaps Apple will venture into iMagazines someday.
Another reason is attributed to consumer data, either from a privacy concern or from a business strategy perspective. As the government is cracking down on technology companies over issues of Internet privacy, Apple does have reason to be wary if it wants to share the subscription information with partners. However, a more logical reason may have to do with money. As Apple enters the digital advertising market on mobile with its iAds venture, the company may not want to share subscriber information with magazine publishers who may source ads from other places.