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Apple Now Allows Magazine Subscriptions on the iPad

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If you’re a devoted subscriber to a print magazine, but you just got an iPad and want to read the digital edition instead, the only option to date has been paying full newsstand cover prices all over again for the same content. Now, though, Apple (s aapl) has relented, and free digital access for traditional subscribers should arrive for many in the near future.

Time Inc. (s tmx) is the publisher that finally convinced Apple to bypass the pay-per-issue model and allow existing subscribers to reap the benefits of their iPads. As of Thursday, People magazine allows existing subscribers to download and view current content on their iPads for free. Subscribers forced into paying twice for the same content had previously contributed to extremely negative reviews for apps like Sports Illustrated and others.

Apple’s reluctance is understandable. In allowing existing magazine subscribers to essentially bypass its own in-app purchasing system, it gives up a considerable share of revenue. Magazines and other publications now have a precedent for charging users outside of the App Store itself for content delivered within, which could pose a considerable threat to Apple’s bottom line.

On the other hand, Apple fought hard to win over the magazine publishers prior to the launch of the iPad, and it wasn’t exactly doing itself any favours in terms of fostering good will by alienating the magazines’ subscribers. Allowing for external subscriptions to apply within the App Store should pay off in that it will allow a pool of new users a way into the iPad through traditional media avenues.

Other Time Inc. properties like Sports Illustrated and Fortune are expected to follow suit with free content for subscribers in the near future. I’d expect other publishers to be shortly behind them. Even better for iPad users, this should prompt a number of fence-sitting magazines to jump on the iPad bandwagon, since it allows them to expand their customer base without requiring they buy into a revenue-sharing model.

Related GigaOM Pro Research: The iPad: Cable TV For Publishers?

7 Responses to “Apple Now Allows Magazine Subscriptions on the iPad”

  1. I would like to inform you that there is an app on the i phone which is called MagZstand which was launched in september. Please take a look at it. It has about 500 magazines on it which is a yearly subscription, with capability of renewals and gifts also.

  2. There is a better app for this that just came out. It’s called Zinio and it looks and reads better than I expected. After my print subscriptions expire I will be subscribing to the digital subscriptions for 2 reasons. 1. cost is MUCH cheaper. 2. I can take them anywhere and more conveniently than before. Just waiting for a couple more that I read on a monthly basis to get on board.

  3. Well this was bound to happen. Magazine apps are one of the most showcased items on iPad. Apple needs to understand that they can’t get money out of everything but if its any consolation, people will be buying the for their iPad. Should feel good about that.

  4. Divigation is absolutely correct. Apple didn’t change a thing. The publishers wanted to bypass Apple’s In-App Purchasing system, and Apple refused to let them do that. All that’s happened now is the publishers have relented and started allowing existing subscribers to get the iPad version for free.

  5. “Apple’s reluctance is understandable. In allowing existing magazine subscribers to essentially bypass its own in-app purchasing system, it gives up a considerable share of revenue.”

    This makes little sense – I can’t imagine that people who already have the magazine sitting on their lap in printed form would be buying the iPad version in any significant numbers. It’s essentially the same content.

  6. Divigation

    Apple didn’t change any policy, they never disallowed subscriptions. They disallowed paying for things in apps through methods other than the iTunes store and they still do. Publishers made a stink because they didn’t want to cut Apple in on subscriptions and didn’t want to kick out to pay for things in safari, like all current systems such as WSJ from day one of the iPad, do.

    Brilliant reporting. Glad to know that TAB has become just another one of those blogs, at least it looks like just another site as well.