updated 07:40 pm EDT, Wed May 11, 2011
iTunes publisher logjam cleared by frequent opt-in
Apple on Wednesday confirmed that the sudden flood of iTunes magazine subscriptions available in recent days was due to a change of heart by publishers. Internet services VP Eddy Cue told tablet magazine publisher Nomad Editions' Mark Edmiston that publishers had found about 50 percent of all readers voluntarily providing their names and e-mail addresses when asked. The "insurmountable obstacle" of a lack of automatic access to subscriber info turned out to be a non-issue, Edmiston explained to Forbes.
Publishers were commonly known to have balked at the iTunes terms at first and led to a months-long impasse. Most coming from the print world are used to taking advantage of the mail-based system to get detailed knowledge of their demographics to better target advertising. Apple, officially under claims of privacy, refuses to hand over iTunes account information and only allows limited opt-in data.
Many had presumed that customers wouldn't hand over information voluntarily. At 50 percent of respondents, the data would be enough to target ads without resorting to getting customer information without direct consent.
Some publishers still haven't signed on. Pearson has been especially vocal about its demand to get access to customer data and has threatened to go to Android instead while remaining hopeful Apple would make concessions, few of which have materialized outside of the opt-in and free subscriptions for print customers.
Price also remains a more distinct issue and has pushed some pure digital publishers out of the platform. Apple always requires a 30 percent cut and prevents publishers from having a better price outside of iTunes. Most direct publishers don't have an issue, but in-between companies like iFlow that already have little room for error often can't operate.
Google has tried to attract exiles and those avoiding Apple with One Pass, which not only takes a much smaller 10 percent cut away from publishers but hands over more customer information without direct input from the reader. The web- and Android-based system's uptake hasn't been made public.