Digital subscriptions for Financial Times are no longer available through iTunes, as the publisher’s main content app has been pulled from the App Store.
This is an expected move, as the Financial Times launched a web-based app in June, providing readers another way to access content in-app without playing by Apple’s subscription terms. The FT web app had 100,000 users in its first week, and currently has 550,000 users, according to paidContent.
At the time of the web app launch, a FT spokesperson said the publisher remained in talks with Apple and would “continue to consider their terms”.
Other FT advertiser-sponsored products will still be available for purchase through Apple, including the Little Books of Business Travel app.
In June, FT head of product development MB Christie said of Apple’s subscription model, “By not knowing who are our customers are, we can’t give access to all devices, if you signed up. [Not giving the 30 percent cut of purchases] is a side benefit of not having to go through the Apple cycle. However, it would have been a different conversation if the data was available.”
As for the advantage of developing an app format for content that is already digitized, Christie said, “Besides being able to access it offline, apps have a beginning, middle and end. As opposed to searching the web, you feel like you’ve actually read today’s paper.”
According to Christie, development and production of the web app began in 2010, before Apple’s subscription terms were announced.
Financial Times’s metered model for content viewing and pricing is noted as an example of paywall success in the publishing industry; in first half 2011, profits grew 10 percent from first half 2010, with digital subscriptions to its website up 34 percent. Rob Grimshaw, managing director of FT.com and part of the 2011 FOLIO: 40, said the publisher is focusing on refining its mobile efforts in 2011.
“We have to learn not simply how to present our content on a mobile device, but also how to do a substantial portion of our overall business in the mobile channel,” says Grimshaw. “Publishers that are still treating mobile as a fringe activity are liable to be caught out by this rapid shift in reader habits.”