Two months after the deadline for compliance hit, it’s now clear The Financial Times and Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) can’t come to a compromise over the new requirement that in-app subscription payments must go through iTunes Store.
The paper’s iPad and iPhone apps have disappeared from iTunes Store. Apple says the FT took them down to comply with its new terms.
It is a blow to the FT, whose apps had processed subscription transactions independently. Last year, 10 percent of its new digital subscriptions were taken out on iPads. But the publisher says its model is premised on owning data about customers that goes through along with transactions. This was more important to it than Apple’s 30 percent take, CEO John Ridding told me recently.
It’s a more drastic move than many, including rival WSJ, had employed to work around Apple – that is, allowing iPad read access to existing subscribers but ending new in-app transactions.
It’s not clear how many users there are of the FT‘s iPad app, but the FT has added around 100,000 new subs since iPad came out, so it may have up to 10,000 users.
In June, the FT launched a well-functioning web app as a replacement. It soon began urging subscribers to that instead.
It’s not yet clear if use of the web app will be mandatory for users of the proper iPad app. Nor is it clear how many users of the proper iPad app have migrated to the web version.
The FT claims 550,000 users of the web app – but that is likely because it was free for a few weeks after launch (and that number is actually likely unique users, since the new app is effectively a website). The publisher now will likely have to market the web version harder than ever, especially to users of the full iPad app.
“The FT iPad and iPhone apps will no longer be available to new users through iTunes,” an FT spokesperson tells paidContent. “We are directing readers to the FT‘s new web app available at app.ft.com. iTunes will remain an important channel for new and existing advertising based apps.”
The Chinese edition of the Financial Times (free) and Financial Times Deutschland (£1.49 sub), of which FT Group no longer owns a stake, remain on iTunes Store.