Today on NHPR’s “Word of Mouth” program, host Virginia Prescott asked Dorian what’s up with Apple’s new subscription model vs. Google’s model, which has largely been portrayed as a counter. You probably already know that Apple gets 30% of any subscriptions sold through its apps on the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch, and that Google asks 10% for subscriptions sold through its store. That Google’s setup is more flexible for publishers, without the Apple restrictions — such as not allowing links to other subscription methods outside of Apple from within the app. (Meaning, if you want to sell subscriptions from your website, fine — just don’t link to it from within the Apple app.)
You may have missed, though, that Apple lets you serve subscribers you have obtained elsewhere for free via the app (so if a publisher wants to give print subscribers free access through an app, that’s fine). Here’s the original Apple announcement spelling it out.
Dorian also pointed out that ownership and control of data is a big deal — that Apple may not share data with publishers about who’s using what from their subscriptions. That’s the kind of data that means big potential buck for publishers, who use to send you offers, get you to renew and more. Dorian also noted that Apple was just saying, “hey, if you want to be on our platform, with us bearing the freight and allowing access our customer, then here are the terms” — despite all the complaints in the publishing industry about Apple taking their 30% cut. Amazon, too, accepts subscriptions for a reported 30%-70% cut of the sale.
Here’s a handy chart (from an Apple discussion board) of subscription splits required by Apple, Google and Amazon.
And here’s Dorian’s take from early in the year on how Apple vs. Google, and Open vs. Closed are shaping up to be big flash points for the year. And some more coverage:
Dorian will later be exploring these issues in some more depth on PBS MediaShift.