Newspapers Finally Realizing They Don't Have To Use Apple's High Priced Payment Offering, Or Locked Down App Store

from the hello,-html-5 dept

For quite some time now, we’ve been pointing out that for all the folks pissed off about Apple’s very closed nature when it comes to the App Store, combined with it’s ridiculously high 30% cut demanded on any in-app content purchases, there would be a growing trend to route around Apple as a gatekeeper, using HTML5 web apps. While such apps can’t provide all the features of native apps, they can provide an awful lot. And, to be honest, a large percentage of native apps are really HTML5/javascript/CSS web apps wrapped up and compiled. But as Apple puts more and more conditions on things, people are going to route around the gatekeeper, and it’s nice to see some big names realizing this. First up is the Financial Times, which has created an HTML5 web app that can be used on the iPhone/iPad without having to go through Apple’s purchase process and without having to deal with Apple’s restrictive rules.

It may be limited right now, but more and more companies are going to recognize they don’t need to go through the gatekeeper here. And as alternative means of distribution and discovery become more popular, the key advantage of the official App Store begin to fade away. I would imagine that over time, Apple may be forced to back down on some of its more ridiculous conditions and pricing, as more players realize that they don’t have to go that route.

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Companies: apple, financial times

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Comments on “Newspapers Finally Realizing They Don't Have To Use Apple's High Priced Payment Offering, Or Locked Down App Store”

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PW (profile) says:


I’m surprised it took this long for some publishers to start exploring Web-based access. Apple’s App Store is Web 1.0 when it comes to searching for applications. The clear advantage to these HTML5 versions is that they could be more easily found using the standard search engines as well. As well, the app developer can also advertise their HTML5 across any Web site and drive the traffic to their site directly, instead of forcing the additional action of making the user download the app.

If I recall correctly, even Steve Jobs had at one time said that the apps would run natively on the Web rather than be downloads. For some reason no one was listening and every one continued to try to get featured in the App Store. Just messed around with that FT app and it’s actually pretty nice. Certainly functional enough to serve its purpose.

Casey Bouch (user link) says:

Re: Not unexpected

I fail to see how the ‘whole cloud thing’ has anything to do with this. This actually made me nerd rage for a bit since the cloud isn’t a new concept and it really being used as more of a buzz word recently. The internet is a giant cloud, a place where multiple devices can access data. We have been storing files for years in online email accounts but suddenly we’re in the world of “Cloud Computing” because we’re storing music online, and using Google Docs.

I apologize if this seems like a personal attack on you Transbot9, it wasn’t meant to be.

If I’m confused at all with this topic, please let me know, but it seems pretty straight forward.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Not unexpected

This actually made me nerd rage for a bit since the cloud isn’t a new concept and it really being used as more of a buzz word recently.

Nuh-uh! Steve Jobs invented computers and now “the cloud”! See that “i” in front of “iCloud”? That stands for “invented” by Steve Jobs!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Not unexpected

“I’m with you.. This whole “cloud” concept is NOT new. In fact it’s just a bigger form of an old old concept of network topology.

Virtual Lantastic anyone?”

I agree but you didn’t go back far enough. They just want everyone’s computer a slightly more mobile version of a dumb terminal.

Transbot9 (user link) says:

Re: Re: Not unexpected

I find your vitriolic reaction to be rather amusing because I agree with you. Besides, this is the internet – I’m not going to let it get under my skin.

“The Cloud” is the current “Web 2.0” – a marketing buzzword for general tech concepts that the technologically adept have been doing for years. Web 2.0 was just everyone else figuring out some of the cooler things that can be done with current web software languages (and shiny buttons). The Cloud is currently little more than remote storage, but there is a push for dumb terminal/smart server relationship and platform independence (which is…actually what web already does).

Casey Bouch (user link) says:

Re: Not unexpected

Oh and this will happen more and more as content providers and newspapers decide they don’t want to fork over 30% of their sales.

Then they (Apple) will be faced with supporting an irrelevant service (App Store), blocking all routing attempts, or adjust to new trends. Take a guess at which one it will be.

Anonymous Coward says:

So why is everyone missing the real point?

The move away from the apple store and to html5 apps is ALSO a move from a single closed platform to every single platform that supports html5.

At that point the ipad and iphone are no longer exclusive channels but just one among many.

I can’t imagine that apple won’t do something about that, let’s hope they don’t figure it out before it’s too late.

ChurchHatesTucker (profile) says:

Re: So why is everyone missing the real point?

“I can’t imagine that apple won’t do something about that, let’s hope they don’t figure it out before it’s too late.”

How soon they forget. Apple was pushing for everyone to do just that when they first released the iPhone. The App Store was a concession to complaints that HTML5 wasn’t quite there yet.

G Thompson (profile) says:

I was at the Australian CeBit exhibition last week, and you could not spit an apple seed without hitting an iPod or iPad being shown, or being touted as a prize.

Luckily I came across a new fandangled tablet device by Acer called the “Iconia Tab”.

and guess what? They are either android or windows based, are very sleek, light, have optional wireless/bluetooth keyboards, and are cheaper than the ubiquitous crApple brand

Oh and best yet, can work with html5 thereby giving all these news/content publishers an even wider audience who are not locked in by an over-reaching and dictatorial organisation.

Michael Long (profile) says:

We’ll see. Apple’s Newsstand app in iOS 5 supports multiple magazines and newspapers, automatically delivered to your iPhone or iPad, with notifications, a common UI, a standard format (epub), and with subscriptions automatically managed with your iTunes account.

This distinct from a web “magazine” that will require monthly visits to a specific web site from a mobile browser, with a separate subscription and payment process. Repeat for each magazine. Rinse.

I wasn’t too sure about Apple’s cut with magazine “apps”, but Newsstand’s automatic one stop shopping approach to mobile magazines is probably worth it in the long run, and really, really hard to beat from a convenience standpoint.

It’s going to take a LOT to get people to go outside of the system and subscribe elsewhere…

d_mat (profile) says:

Re: Appstore v Web apps

I think that, though it is not perfect, web apps are a pretty good solution to the issues of the closed appstore environment. I think they complement each other well.

On the issue of the masses going for the Apple system for magazines, I would agree only for the mass-market media. Mainstream media outlets that offer their products this way will get the most customers, but do so anyway. The smaller media outlets generally rely on a smaller, very interested subscriber base. As they are very interested they will certainly make the extra effort. Those smaller outlets then stick with their smaller base, but that isn’t likely to change just because they are in the Apple system. The specialists will continue attracting specialists.

ps. I would install a techdirt web app 😉

HD Boy says:

“…As alternative means of distribution and discovery become more popular, the key advantage of the official App Store begin to fade away…”

By and large, print publishers — especially newspaper publishers — are cheap SOB’s who have no vision and no ability to innovate. They’ve entirely screwed up their cash cow industry by dragging their collective feet in adapting to new technologies over the years. They’re still extending more effort trying to save the dying print business model while some companies create new information technology resources tha are changing the world. The brave new online news industry would be nowhere without Apple and the iPod Touch, iPhone and iPad. All modern tablet publications are forks split off from the development of these three popular Apple devices. So, publishers can bitch and moan about Apple’s power and influence, but in the end they’ll all have to be on Apple devices now and in the future, no matter what alternatives also exist. After all, that’s where the innovation that sparked this publishing revolution was born. Besides, the biggest advantages of Apple’s App Store are customer security, reliability and convenience — and these will not fade away.

DannyB (profile) says:

Re: Re:

As you say, newspapers and publishers may have to be on Apple’s devices, and Android (which already has larger market share), and others’ devices.

The innovation in publishing revolution happened with the web, before the rise of modern smartphones.

While there are real advantages to having a native app (example, alerts of breaking news) it is equally important to have an outstanding mobile web site. After all, a mobile device user’s first experience is probably with your website rather than with your app. They may become informed of your native app from the website. (This also goes for stores like Amazon, and not just for news like CNN.)

Publishers may not have to bitch and moan about Apple’s power and influence forever. On Android there is no central app store gatekeeper. Google has Google Market. Amazon has Amazon’s Android App store. Rumors are that Best Buy will soon have an Android app store. (Sort of like how multiple stores sell milk or television sets.)

John Doe says:

A case of Apple cutting off their nose to spite their face

I was happy to see Apple disallow Flash on their devices. Not because I have anything against Flash, though I admit I don’t like Flash based websites. It was because I knew by pushing everyone to HTML 5, it would break Apple’s death grip on their platforms. Why Apple couldn’t see that I don’t know.

Call me Al says:

Re: even slicker

If you look at MS’ more recent policies it seems like they are the nicer party these days… as weird and unlikely as that sounds.

The Kinect has been hacked and messed with for months with some really interesting applications being created. I’ve not seen a single word of criticism or legal threat from Microsoft on this. With Apple if you dare to sell a screwdriver that would allow people to open up their I-Pod you get sued.

Of course this could be an indicater that MS knows that Apple really stole a march on them. The response is to become more disruptive and to try and find their way back to the top through trying different ideas out for size.

Overcast (profile) says:

But as Apple puts more and more conditions on things

Since the first Macintosh computers – Apple has ALWAYS had this stance. It’s not really a surprise. It’s the core reason I avoid the company.

The OS and hardware are pretty cool, but the tyrannical attempts of control over customers are very UNcool.

No thanks, I’ll continue to pass on anything that company produces. Not because I’m a M$ or Linux fanboi, I’m just a freedom zealot and a rebel. I don’t like to be told what to do, in some cases.

At work or in the military – it’s one thing. As a customer it’s wholly another.

DannyB (profile) says:


Newspapers should not take the Html5/JavaScript/CSS approach because this is embracing the Internet, the source of all evil (aka competition and choice). (eg, “you can’t compete with free”) Being strong supporters of business, profits and paywalls, they should support Apple, because they can’t compete with free either.

Newspapers should pay Apple and build native apps. Using the wide open and unrestricted Html5/JavaScript/CSS approach is like relying on the public domain. And we all know by now that there is no value in the public domain.

No one has to be in the app store says:

As usual Techdirt wants to go to someone else’s racetrack and tell them how to run the race. No one has to be in the app store. You can get to newspaper websites on your phone. And Mike, who determines what “ridiculously high” is? Oh, I guess it’s you. Why does Techdirt argue one thing when newspapers rumble about the unfairness of google news and yahoo news and something else entirely when they fight with Apple?

A Guy says:


Because it “feels” like their traditional business. They get to publish a magazine/newspaper with a tightly controlled distribution system to a limited clientele, just like they used to. Of course, this sense of familiarity servers only to enrich Apple, but to some legacy industry players whom fear the end is coming, nothing beats that sense that nostalgia for better times.

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