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Time Inc. and Apple magazine deal could open the door for other publishers

by Morgan Phelps

On Monday, Time Inc. and Apple (AAPL) settled a more than year-long standoff, reaching a deal to make all of the publisher’s iPad editions free to print magazine subscribers. Time has been meeting with the company since February of last year, protesting the extra fee its subscribers were required to pay to access content via the iPad.

The access previously extended to People magazine subscribers through a similar deal will now be extended to subscribers of Sports Illustrated, Time and Fortune magazines. The deal allows publishers to maintain 100 percent of the revenue of subscriptions sold outside the Apple App Store, through which Apple receives 30 percent of the revenue from subscriptions and issues sold. MediaDailyNews noted that publishers are likely to continue to lobby against this revenue-sharing model held by Apple despite this new deal.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Apple dropping its hesitation to share information about iPad consumers could give other publishers the chance to forge ahead with their own deals, thus giving them the opportunity to apply the “TV everywhere” model to magazines. Although Apple has to give up some handy consumer information, it seems like a smart move for the company given that single-copy sales of digital magazines sold via the iPad have dropped sharply since the device was first launched, according to Women’s Wear Daily.

Although Apple and Time Inc. have settled a major part of their score for now, the battle between the tech company and publishers over consumer information – and the money that comes with that information – is far from over. Just another small but significant battle won for publishers in the never-ending war over the monetization of readership through digital platforms.