The FT breaks free from Apple

  • 7 June 2011
  • From the section Technology
  • comments
Screengrab FT app
Will other publishers break free from Apple's embrace?

As Apple becomes ever more powerful in digital media, there's an interesting straw in the wind this morning from a media giant which appears eager to avoid handing over too much cash and control to Steve Jobs and co.

The Financial Times has launched a new web app giving users access to the paper directly through their web browser.

The paper has already poured a lot of time and effort into developing apps for the Apple app store - but now it is telling readers that the new web app will give them a faster and better experience.

What's more it's pushing the app by offering free access to the paper for a week - after that you need to pay the single subscription the FT already charges for all online access to its content. It will be available on the iPhone and iPad at first, and soon on Android devices.

So why is the FT doing this? Because, the paper says, it wants to secure a direct relationship with its readers.

In its own story about the launch, the FT mentions that several publishers have expressed unhappiness at Apple's reluctance to share data about the users of apps obtained from its store.

What it does not mention is that Apple also collects 30% of the revenues from any in-app purchases - a real bugbear for newspaper and magazine groups eager to use the iPad as a new digital platform.

The App Store has proved a huge success, trumpeted by Steve Jobs again last night. It takes a brave company to decide that the cost of being part of that story is not worth paying - but other publishers will be looking at the FT and thinking about whether they too might break free from Apple's embrace.