The FT breaks free from Apple

 
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.

 
Rory Cellan-Jones Article written by Rory Cellan-Jones Rory Cellan-Jones Technology correspondent

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  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 20.

    I think html5 will hurt the appstores - especially for established names like this one.

    Think about it - one development platform that will work on smartphones, tablets and PCs.

    ...and you don't have to give Apple a huge chunk of your revenue!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 19.

    The fine article says: "It will be available on the iPhone and iPad at first, and soon on Android devices" - why all the praise for open standards and wide access? This isn't that.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 18.

    How amusing, Apple and the FT scrapping over our hard earned pennies. The best way to treat these parasites is with contempt. Use free software, get your news from the telly.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 17.

    The only reason newspapers (or anyone else) want our data is so they can target us with more junk mail. Frankly, anything that prevents this is fine by me.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 16.

    A good idea. Too bad they have no business apps like Google. That would make this a killer move.

    It also means Apple would move hard into the business space.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 15.

    @12 - I don't see your point. If the Government wanted to round up the people they could get the info from Apple just as easily as they could from FT

    Personally if I'm subscribing to FT I'd like as much of my subscription as possible to go to them, quality content is hard to come by these days. So I support this move

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 14.

    Apple wishes to protect users' data from commercial exploitation by third parties and somehow this is against "freedom"? If I've bought an Apple device, I've accepted that Apple can use (a minimal amount of) my data; Android users are no different. How is allowing newspapers to exploit my reading or shopping habits "open"? Thank you, Apple, for cutting out what amounts to spyware or junk mail.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 13.

    @9.Carniphage
    One thing I would like to see is proper penalties against companies
    taking and losing personal data. In most cases (all probably) it really isn't needed. Why for instance does the BBC want the data? (I've fed it rubbish thats useless and it seems happy enough).
    Breaking away from Apple is actually a good idea for the FT - widen from a few thousand to a few million devices

  • rate this
    -5

    Comment number 12.

    Dear Sheeplings,
    Free app for wk - then FT will download to iPhone and iPad & soon - (appropriately) Android devices. FT wants DIRECT relationship with its readers. Has it occurred to you your ID collection may be an agenda & the agenda my be ominous.Suppose the Govt wanted to round up all persons who hate US policies, how quickly do you think it might do it - suck you up like fish in a barrel?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 11.

    Freedom is generally a good thing, and the tie-ins of the App Store and iTunes restrict the freedom of Apple's hardware customers to enjoy their devices to the full. So well done FT, whatever your motives, for showing the alternative works for you.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 10.

    @AllenT2 Apple is a monolithic Enterprise. That is you play by its rules. Many newsstands in the past were run by individuals who directly benefited monetarily by bringing me and you the news. Apple has now put itself in a position to horde the wealth generated by content. This wealth in the past was capable of spreading itself around, right down to the guy/girl handing you your daily newspaper.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 9.

    There is one other factor.
    The FT wants to collect the identities of its subscribers, to support its advertising revenue.
    Apple won't share this data with the FT unless the customer agrees.
    I wonder if that has anything to do with it?
    C.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 8.

    I agree with Steve, this is a significant move from the FT - and one that I expect to give weight to a growing trend amongst quality content creators. Onwards and openwards

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 7.

    I suspect the reason they don't mention the 30% is that they now keep it. Apple contracts for subscriptions state that you can't under cut with a cheeper method outside the app store.

    What might hurt FT is exclusion from the new NewsStand app...

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 6.

    nice one FT! whatever apple's reaction will tell us a lot about the future of the company

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 5.

    It's slightly ironic that Apple is now pushing 'the cloud' - whereby we access content through the web - and the FT has realised that a direct browser-based experience will prevent Apple seeking to take a cut.

    As an avid non-Apple user, I'm hopeful that more useful apps will break free.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 4.

    The irony here is that the BBC is as guilty as anyone in facilitating this rise to overall power. Jobs says "no flash on iPhone". BBC creates Flash-less iPLayer for iPhone. Cheaper Android phones *can't* run Flash. BBC says "tough luck".

    Not only that, the BBC actively kills off 3rd party iPlayer clients that did work on these devices.

    One rule for Apple, a different rule for everyone else!!!

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 3.

    I don't see how Apple is any different than a store or news stand taking their part for selling newspapers or magazines. Silly paranoia.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 2.

    Actually the cut Apple takes from subscription charges was initially given as the main problem for publishers. They have found though that a large amount of people are happy to give their personal info via the opt-in dialogue box, so have gone via Apple after all. FT are an exception at the moment. That said, by 'direct relationship' they do of course mean 'we want more of your personal details'.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 1.

    Its about time too! One of the basic principles of the Internet is ease of access. App stores by their nature tend to funnel and restrict access, a concept which really does belong back in the 20th Century. A app created using open web based technologies can have a far greater audience than a app targeting a particular technology subset. Content is king. Don't hand it over to Apple, Google et al.

 

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