updated 09:30 am EST, Mon March 1, 2010
Jobs said bowing to pressure to get mags onboard
Apple may be agreeing to give out subscriber info to get magazines in the iBookstore and on the iPad, a rumor on the latest episode of TWiT suggests. Controversial Mahalo head Jason Calacanis heard from a "major publisher" that Apple CEO Steve Jobs has acquiesced to giving out an unspecified amount of customer data after the publisher refused to offer subscription content without circulation info. It's not known if any other publishers put down a similar ultimatum.
Few other details are available, and the rumor contains a level of doubt. Calacanis has a mixed track record on rumors and made a joke iPad leak in late January that even some major publications falsely interpreted as fact. Here, however, he made it clear he was serious, and leaks from Jobs' recent meetings with New York City publishers have been commonplace.
Apple doesn't comment on rumors.
Magazine and newspaper publishers have often been hesitant to move to a non-web digital form as they are heavily dependent on targeted ads as a source of revenue. Without demographics, the companies can't skew ads towards a title's key audience. Apple wouldn't likely have all the same information that publishers get from print customers but would have the unique advantage of anonymous information on what apps and media iTunes customers are downloading and thus get a sense for their overall tastes.
A lack of this data is believed to have hurt the chances of e-book store operators like Amazon and Sony as only a handful of companies have agreed to offer their subscription material. Devices like the Kindle and Reader Daily Edition don't have displays capable of supporting color and lack support for complex apps that could handle dynamic or even video ads, giving them much less incentive to develop for these platforms. The iPad's choice of ePub allows color photo and video content, and its support for native third-party software is already expected to see native apps from Conde Nast and the New York Times.