updated 12:45 pm EST, Fri February 11, 2011
Time starts subscriptions on Android first
Time Inc. today took digital subscriptions live today for Sports Illustrated. Along with the earlier webOS plans, it now has both a web edition of the service as well as Android editions for smartphones and tablets. The initial Android apps support Samsung's Galaxy and Galaxy Tab devices first but should expand later.
It's not clear if the service has automatic delivery outside of the web, but Time has promised flexible subscription options. Purely digital subscriptions will cost $4 per month; print users get a discount, however, and will pay the same rate if they pay for an annual $48 subscription that includes both services. Existing print subscribers will get access for free for the rest of their current terms.
More subscriptions, such as Fortune and People, are expected in the future.
The platform conspicuously omits Apple. While Sports Illustrated is available on the iPad, it currently doesn't support subscriptions and isn't expected to get support until at least an official update due sometime later. Time hasn't said if it would adopt Apple's system and might be hesitant due to the requirement to give Apple a 30 percent cut of royalties of subscription rates that would already be lower than usual.
Publishers have so far been mixed on Apple, in part because its refusal to supply customer information to target advertising and its new ban on offering purchases solely outside of iTunes have been more restrictive. Apple has argued that it's protecting privacy through the lack of subscriber data but hasn't challenged accusations that it's primarily trying to discourage the existence of competing stores.