Report: Apple to allow newspaper subscriptions

By Steve Safran 

Newspapers may soon get their wish and appear in subscription format on the iPad, iPhone and other Apple products. The San Jose Mercury News is reporting that Apple will announce a subscription plan for newspapers. This, of course, could represent a new revenue stream for the papers as their print versions keep taking hits. (Reporter John Boudreau does not cite his source for the report.) However, industry watcher and digital journalism professor Roger Fidler outlines a possible scenario:

“Apple probably will take a 30 percent cut of all subscriptions sold through the company’s online App Store, and as much as 40 percent of the advertising revenue from publications’ apps.”

Good for Apple, not so good for the papers. The newspapers wanted an arrangement where they would pay Apple a straight-up fee. An app is an improvement over visiting a newspaper site, but is it enough for you to pay money for a subscription service? After all, this is simply a digital version of an old subscription-and-display-advertising model. And with great, newspaper- and magazine-style free and cheap apps out there aggregating socially suggested content, would people be satisfied by a single source of information?