The major magazine companies continued their escalating battle to win consumers on the iPad and other tablets today, as Time Inc. poached a News Corp. executive and Conde Nast became the first top publishing house to introduce subscriptions to an iPad edition. But it doesn't sound like Time Inc. is running quite the same race as its competitors -- or considering the same things a victory.
Time Inc. is naming Perry Solomon its new VP for digital business development, filling a vacancy created when Kenneth Fuchs left to run the sports, games and entertainment properties at Yahoo. Mr. Solomon had been VP for business development in new digital media at News Corp. since last year and previously oversaw media, advertising and e-commerce for Fast, a search subsidiary at Microsoft.Mr. Solomon's job developing partnership deals with various digital players occupies an important position as Time Inc. tries to advance its digital businesses, said Steve Sachs, Time Inc. exec VP for consumer marketing and sales, in a staff memo today announcing Mr. Solomon's hire. "As we negotiate deals, we are setting guidelines and company-wide standards that will determine how Time Inc. content is distributed to and enjoyed by our customers for years to come," he said.
The hire comes as Conde Nast today beat Time Inc., Hearst and other big magazine publishers to selling iPad edition subscriptions through the App Store, delivering on word last week that Conde would get there first even though Hearst had just confirmed a deal along those lines. Hearst's deal becomes effective with the July issues of Esquire, Popular Mechanics and O, The Oprah Magazine.
Don't look for Time Inc., however, to answer in similar fashion soon.
Its own deal with Apple, effective last week, lets people buy print-plus -iPad subscriptions to Sports Illustrated, Time and Fortune directly from the magazines, extending an arrangement the company's People magazine already enjoyed. But selling through the App Store, giving Apple a share of the revenue and, more important, letting Apple keep subscriber information secret unless subscribers specifically demand otherwise?
"We have chosen not to do that ," Mr. Sachs said in an interview, "because when we look at who to partner with, the key parts of our principles include of course making sure that the look and feel of products is great for consumers and the ability to set pricing terms, but also receiving key consumer data about subscribers."
"That is one of the major issues for us that we haven't been able to agree on with Apple," he said. Things could of course change eventually. "We're not going to rule out having digital subscriptions down the road with iPad."
Apple's system -- which only lets publishers know who subscribed through the App Store if new customers authorize it by touching "Allow" on a fairly imposing-looking dialogue box -- had originally given all the big publishing houses pause. Titles that did sign on -- such as Bloomberg Businessweek, Popular Science and Elle -- said they were confident they could get subscribers to share information about themselves later.
Conde today has added a second dialogue box to the subscription process in the App Store, one that offers "instant access to bonus content and the complete archive on the Web" -- if subscribers identify themselves by entering an email address. The New Yorker's weekly iPad editions cost $5.99 a month or $59.99 a year if subscribers buy through Apple.
Conde magazines will also sell print-plus -iPad subscriptions through Conde websites. Subscriptions bundling print and digital available at NewYorker.com cost $6.99 per month and $69.99 per year.
Subscriptions to iPad editions of Conde Nast's Wired, Vanity Fair, Glamour, Golf Digest, Allure, Self and GQ will become available this month.
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