FT Web-based app reaches more than 700,000 users

The Financial Times’ Web-based mobile application, which is used to access news and other content, has drawn more than 700,000 users, which makes it more popular than the version sold in Apple’s App Store, Reuters reported.

The FT, one of the first major publishers to reduce its dependence on Apple, introduced its HTML5-based mobile application in June. It bypassed the App Store and can be read by any browser.

“People who are using the app are spending much more time with the content,” said FT.com Managing Director Rob Grimshaw, pointing out that the new Web-based app was attracting more traffic. “They are consuming about three times as many pages through the app as they are through the desktop in an average visit.”

The FT’s Web-based mobile app makes up 15 percent of FT.com subscriptions, as well as 20 percent of total FT.com pageviews on mobile, Grimshaw said.

Publishers in the U.S. and Europe have been at odds with Apple over apps, due to its strict policies.

For example, Apple takes a 30 percent share of subscription revenue from those who sign up for apps in the store.

Apple also wants to control subscriber data from people signing up in the store – which are valuable to magazines and newspapers to sell advertising.

Apple did not have a subscription system in place for a while, so the FT was able to sell its app in the company’s store, and kept all the revenue and had full control of subscriber data.

However, Apple changed its terms this past summer, claiming that all subscriptions to apps it hosts must go through its own store after it launched its own subscription service for magazines, newspapers, videos and music.

Many companies have balked at Apple’s terms. The FT took out its iPad and iPhone app from Apple store after failing to reach an agreement with Apple.

“App stores are actually quite strange environments. They are cut off from most of the Web ecosystem,” Grimshaw said.

He said that a simple message on the FT’s site has been an effective marketing tool.

“The world outside the App Store is not cold and desperate. Discovery is no problem at all,” Reuters reported.

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