Apple vs. European Publishers

Posted on 2/9/2011 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Newspaper publishers, almost universally, believe the iPad and other tablet devices are possible saviors of the journalism business since they are a much more cost effective news delivery system than print and more than 50 million devices are expected to be in use before the end of 2011. However, given the way payment for content is structured European publishers are very concerned about loss of control of their businesses.

Apple wants 30% of sales for everything delivered on the iPad. They want all sales to be made via iTunes. And they don’t want to share subscriber information with publishers.

Publishers want to be able to offer free iPad access to print subscribers so they aren’t double charging people who want both print and iPad delivery. They also want to know who their subscribers are as well as have the ability to sell iPad subscriptions to them. Some also believe the 30% figure is too high and the Belgian Economy Minister is pushing competition authorities to investigate this percentage because it “could have enormous consequences for the profitability of the sector.” The traditional publishing business model is dependent on publishers knowing who their readers are and being able to communicate readership information to advertisers.

While Apple seems to be in the driver’s seat, the publishers are also talking with Google about its Android option. Android devices do not have the same subscription issues. If Android can attract users then Apple might be more receptive to adjusting its policies.

A crisis meeting between Apple and selected publishers “inspired” by the European Newspaper Publishers Association (ENPA), is scheduled for February 17th in London. While Apple usually gets it’s way it is certainly mindful of the fact that the European Community took on Microsoft a few years back for violating EC regulations -- and won.

The future of journalism could hang to a large degree on the outcome of next week’s meeting.

Copyright © 2011 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to:  


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