FT refuses to surrender subscription data to Apple

While Apple’s new digital subscription model has become a popular choice among some publications, others are reluctant to embrace it, Mashable reported this week. 

The Financial Times is one of the more notable publications pushing back against Apple’s wishes to step between it and customers. According to Rob Grimshaw, FT.com’s managing director, the publication would like to keep selling its digital news subscriptions directly to readers, rather than surrender data of new customers who sign up via Apple’s iPad, Reuters reported.

The Pearson-owned title bundles access to its digital products as part of a package with print subscriptions, while Apple has been pushing publishers hard for customers to sign up directly through its App Store.

The iPad has become an important catalyst for new subscriptions to FT.com, due to its “large and crisp display, possibilities for interactive features and affluent customer base,” according to Reuters.

However, the FT is clear about what it wants: “We don’t want to lose our direct relationship with our subscribers. It’s at the core of our business model,” Grimshaw told Reuters. He added that the FT is in negotiations with Apple and is hopeful of a positive outcome. “If it turns out that one or another channel doesn’t mix with the way we want to do business, there’s a large number of other channels available to us.”

The Financial Times has successfully shifted many of its readers to pay for its online version. The total number of paying subscribers rose to 590,000, from a peak of 440,000 print-only subscribers, and digital revenues made up 40 percent of the group’s sales last year, Reuters reported.

According to Grimshaw, FT.com had far more to lose by surrendering its customer relationships to Apple than many other publishers, who have not yet developed such a successful online business model.

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