FT Stumps Apple’s App Subs with HTML5 Web App

There was something of a hullabaloo a few months back when Apple announced the company would begin charging a 30% levy on all subscriptions and content purchased in-app. Or to put it simply, Apple wants a cut of every sale coming through the app store.

Sony was the highest profile opponent when the charge was announced, stating the measures made it impossible for the company to offer an iOS version of its eBook Reader Store. Or to be blunt, there ain’t enough cash in digital content to fork out a third every time someone taps a ‘buy’ button. A few companies have looked into work-arounds; 7digital launched a refreshed HTML5 mobile website for iOS device users, in addition to dedicated Android and BlackBerry apps.

With only a few weeks to go before the 30th June ‘grace period’ is up for all publishers and content holders to update their apps, The Financial Times has come out swinging for Apple’s jaw. The paper has released it’s own HTML5 based web-app, optimised for iPhone and iPad users.

They’re not letting us piece together the obvious ourselves, stating on FT.com the app will “bypass Apple’s iTunes Store, Google’s Android Market and other distributors to secure a direct relationship with readers”.

A direct relationship with readers is the key. By offering their own web-based app, the FT doesn’t have to rely on reader numbers or details from Apple – they come straight to them. However, they’re not canning the iOS app altogether, telling Paid Content “We won’t abandon iOS apps…we won’t remove the subscription functionality from the existing FT app on iOS. We don’t know how that is going to play out yet”.

The FT’s iOS app was very successful last year, bringing in around 10 percent of new digital subscribers. Even the paper’s best and brightest digital minds aren’t sure which horse to back. Approaching readers and potential subscribers from all angles, despite development expense, seems right for now.

Another post about iCloud – what will Jobs’ predictions mean for communicators?

Steve Jobs announcing iCloud at WWDC 2011


So Steve has been on stage in his usual black turtleneck showing the world the next ‘game changer’, and this time I think he could be onto something.

At WWDC 2011 Steve presented the iCloud, a cloud based storage service where all content from Apple devices can be held in one central hub. Essentially the iCloud will synch up with all your Apple devices so if you download a song to your iPod or take a picture on your iPhone it will be stored in your iCloud account. As iCloud is linked to all your devices, you can pull this hosted content to your other devices, putting the music on your Mac and the photo onto your iPad. All this is wireless and as we know, everyone hate wires. Let’s face it – this is going to be a success.

So what does this mean for communicators? Well quite a lot, actually. Steve has deemed this the beginning of the end for computers. Wow, quite a claim. If he is correct, it will completely change the way we send and receive information.

Let’s imagine nobody has a computer and everyone’s content is hosted in their iCloud. They are using only Apple devices to access and share content. What are Apple devices really good for? You got it – apps! In this imaginary Apple-based, shiny, minimalist world, people will be downloading apps like it’s going out of fashion – using them for everything from getting their news to following their favourite music artists and reading books. Hurrah! No more having to browse the web and spending ages ploughing through multiple sources to get our information.

Okay, my tongue is now out of my cheek. It makes me wonder how the way we reach our audiences may change if apps do become the main port of call for information. It’s certainly more convenient for consumers. For example, Lady GaGa (a tried and tested hypothetical case study) might have an iPad app where, now and then, she’ll chuck out a free bonus track or video interview for users to download and enjoy. She only needs to push it once through this app and it will be available to her fans on their other synched devices too, rendering any sort of media relations redundant (who is reading the papers if not through their apps anyway?).

At the moment, having this cloud based system in a closed Apple environment means, while it will definitely be adopted, it will only be amongst Apple fan boys and is, at the moment, not the norm. However, an open platform alternative, such as the Ubuntu One offering, could become the norm. Watch this space!