The tight grip that Apple has on data about magazine customers served through its app store has been a constant irritant to publishers who want to sell digital subscriptions and control subscriber data. Apple's rules mean publishers can't even sell direct subscriptions to their readers if they sign onto the App Store.
A shot has just been aimed across Apple's bow with the announcement that Next Issue Media -- a joint venture digital newsstand backed by big U.S. magazine players like Condé Nast, Hearst, Meredith, News Corporation and Time Inc. -- will launch its online store on Google's Android Marketplace, early next year. According to a story on MediaMemo, Next Media says this is because Android is an important tabloid platform and gives them more control.
It’s not a technical issue, [NIM CEO Morgan] Guenther says, because “we’re ready to support Apple as well,” and he says he’s confident that will happen. But “Android is a very important tablet platform, and a very important platform for smartphones.”
Guenther wouldn’t disclose other details about his launch, but you don’t have to squint to read between the lines here. The takeaway is that Google has been flexible on the business issues that are important to the publishers that own his company. And that Apple’s not there yet.
The key split, still: Publishers want the ability to sell their tablet magazines directly to consumers, or at least to be able to access the data that iTunes collects when it sells them.