Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Bloggers Just Refuse To Face Facts About Apple's Subscription Plans - Trashing Apple Better For Business

This is my comment response to another uninformed post with a click-bait headline.  This time, it's from one of my favorite site about ebook and publishing, Teleread. Their headline is "Steve Jobs muddies Apple subscription waters further with 'clarification'". 

I've been reading a lot about the Apple subscription issue so I can gain a better understanding of what Apple is trying to do and where the grievances are.  After all, isn't that the best way to go about getting a handle on things?  

When I first read that Apple would take 30% of all subscriptions, I was flabbergasted.  30%!  Piracy!  As it turned out, this is way below Amazon's 70% cut on Kindle subscriptions.  Publishers are not concerned about that.  What they are not happy about is that Apple still will not share with them the vast and rich treasure trove that is the iTunes ecosystem that Apple spent the better part of the last decade creating.

Here goes:

How did Steve Jobs' e-mail muddying things up?  I thought it was exceptionally clear.  This is especially tru ewith respect to Readability.

Readability became a publisher of sort when it decided to become an aggregator of published media, posts, columns, articles and it sells them as a subscription.  If instapaper, Evernote, or anyone else tries to become active participants in distribution of content, their apps will be coming publishing apps.  Dropbox can eventually enter in their service as well and the Dropbox app will too become a publishing app.

And yes, if Twitter or Facebook starts to charge for tweets/posts/articles, they'll need to fork over 30% of their subscription revenues and it would be a pretty good biz for them and gladly give Apple its cut because they're not even doing it now.  As a matter of fact, all the above mentioned companies with apps should maybe think about getting into this business because it's a revenue stream they currently do not have.  

And there will not be any antitrust issues beyond preliminary probes - Readability needs to get a lawyer and he or she will tell them they've got no case.  Basically, Readability tried to game the system and failed

Bottomline: Publishers aren't complaining about the 30% cut (Amazon takes/took 70% cut from publishers - where's the outrage?).  Bloggers are (see note below for why that is).  What publishers are not happy about is the opt-in part about subscribers sharing personal information so they can sell that information and spam their subscribers. Readability came up with a biz plan that doesn't not work within the framework and going public in this manner is their last resort.

What's not clear is what this means for Netflix, Hulu, and other music subscriptions.  But I hope they are exempted.  I'm sure Best Buy, Amazon, and the few other smart service providers who aren't going around trying to trash Apple in public are trying to work things out with Apple.  

Here is the original Macrumors about the Steve Jobs e-mail.

Note:  Here's the thing, my fellow mobile warriors.  Trashing Apple is a good way for bloggers to get folks to click onto their sites.  It gets people fired up on both sides of the issue.  Writing about the facts doesn't bring in the clicks but it doesn't require leaving the moral compass at home.  So if and when Apple screws over Netflix or the music apps, I'll be back to vilify Steve and company.  Now, that would help me gain readers!

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