Apple to Start Selling Newspaper Subscriptions

Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Grant Whiteside

There’s no point in reminding the publishing industry that if they had addressed search 13 years ago, rather than sticking their head in the sand, they wouldn’t be in this mess today. Newspapers would still be the preferred advertisers’ choice, and Google probably wouldn’t have had the stranglehold on information retrieval that they have today.

Every publisher has been waiting for a digital platform to sell their content on and Mr Jobs has came up with a device specific channel that in theory could work for them. Location based advertising, news, sport and weather could be there for the taking if Apple and the publishing industry can work out who actually owns the customers; is it Apple or the publisher. Giving customers the option to opt in or out to being up sold by the publisher leaves a bitter taste in the mouths of publishers that are already giving up 30% of the subscription price to Apple.

What we need to see is a compromise that makes this opportunity a reality. There is a real threat that Apples demand for simple pricing structures may get in the way of the publishing industry embracing the opportunity. They need the opportunity to provide a scalable level of service that relates to consumer demand.

With potential compromises of incentivising users that opt in to either subscribe for a cheaper price, or have scalable pricing models providing an online magazine for 12 months for the price of 10, it seems like a compromise that Apple should consider.

It won’t be long before there are a wide range of 10 inch screen readers on the market that will be willing to strike a deal with the publishing industry. Pride normally comes before a fall, will Mr Jobs concede he doesn’t have full control of this situation.