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Summary:

The Financial Times is the latest publisher to strike a partnership with Flipboard. The deal is interesting because the FT recently left another third-party platform, iTunes.

Flipboard iPhone app

The Financial Times is now making its content available through Flipboard, the popular reading platform that lets users draw on their social networks to assemble content from a variety of publications or create their own magazine.

The partnership, which comes a year after a similar deal between Flipboard and the New York Times, will grant full access to FT subscribers while casual visitors will be able to read a smattering of FT blog posts and cultural stories.

Rob Grimshaw, managing director of the FT.com, said by phone that the deal will involve the FT and Flipboard sharing advertising revenue, but would not disclose what the exact revenue split is. In the past, the ad splits have been a source of contention for some publishers, including Condé Nast, which pulled back its advertisements from titles like New Yorker and Wired. (A Flipboard spokesperson said the company has an “excellent relationship” with Conde and is partnering on ads for six other titles).

Grimshaw also said that the FT is exploring selling subscriptions through Flipboard, and would be willing to share some of the proceeds with the platform. This is significant because the FT made waves by leaving iTunes in part due to the 30 percent commission (or “vig,” as the Brits call it) that Apple takes from every publisher.

So why is the FT willing to partner up with Flipboard so soon after leaving Apple? Grimshaw says the difference lies in how the two platforms treat customer relationships.

“The issue is not so much a percentage, it’s the relationship between publisher and audience. Paying a 30 percent finder’s fee is okay. Paying 30 percent in perpetuity and not knowing who the customer is not okay.”

The Flipboard partnership also reflects the fact that the FT and other publishers are keen to get their stories in as many places as possible at a time when readers are consuming more and more content on mobile. As for the future role of Flipboard, which some describe as a “giant iceberg” in the way of publishers, Grimshaw had this to say:

“I think the really interesting aspect to the platform is the way they’re giving readers the ability to create a bespoke user experience. I personally think this is going to be a strong strand in publishing and consumption of news in the digital space.”

Correction: This article was updated at 2:40pm to state that Conde Nast titles had pulled ads from certain titles; Conde did not, as previously stated, break off the relationship.

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  1. dbrownblogs Friday, May 10, 2013

    Reblogged this on BrownGoods and commented:
    big move in the wrong direction? flipboard is a business or a platform?

  2. Alex Bowden Friday, May 10, 2013

    “So why is the FT willing to partner up with Flipboard so soon after leaving Apple? ”

    Depends how long ago you think FT left Apple.

    The FT dropped their excellent Apple app a long time ago. 18 months maybe. Since then they have been using a second rate HTML5 app and pretending that all was well.

    That and constantly bleating about Apple at every opportunity. I see they’ve taken another poke here if they said “flipboard is a better deal than Apple”.

    But consider this. When FT say

    “The issue is not so much a percentage, it’s the relationship between publisher and audience. Paying a 30 percent finder’s fee is okay. Paying 30 percent in perpetuity and not knowing who the customer is not okay.”

    FT clearly believe that they have a right to know who their readers are. As a subscriber, I was very happy for Apple (who I trust) to withhold my details from FT who send out far too much junk.

    For many years I bought my FT from my local news agent. I never gave him my details so they can’t have passed them on to FT

    FT is also guilty of making it as difficult as possible to close a subscription. You can open a subscription online. You can edit it online. But to close it you get the telephone runaround and every obstacle put in your path.

    This is EXACTLY the sort of malpractice that Apple prevents as part of it’s service to its users. If you want to cancel a subscription, that’s a easy as taking it out in the first place.

    So when I recently cancelled my FT subscription, which was partly about them sneaking the price up in big jumps, but mainly about the plunging journalism and editorial standards and increasing axe grinding and stock manipulation, what should have taken seconds on the web, required a phone conversation that must have taken at least 15 minutes and ended with me having to shout “What part of close the account do you not understand”.

  3. Greg Golebiewski Monday, May 13, 2013

    Well, finally publishers discover that “Paying 30 percent in perpetuity and not knowing who the customer is is not okay.”

  4. The current FT HTML app is a piece of junk. It consistently crashes and will not load content. I finally ripped it out of my iPad.. Who are they kidding?

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