Time Inc. Reverses Itself on Apple Terms, Begins Selling Subscriptions on the iPad

Joins Rivals Conde Nast, Hearst After Deciding Benefits Outweigh Costs

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Time Inc. has begun selling iPad subscriptions to its magazines, the company said today, backing down after a yearlong standoff over Apple's terms.

Apple promoted the newly available subscriptions on Thursday.
Apple promoted the newly available subscriptions on Thursday.

The publisher, whose brands range from Sports Illustrated to Real Simple, had long refused to sell subscriptions to its iPad editions partly because it didn't want Apple to control the relationship with Time Inc. subscribers. "We have chosen not to do that ," a Time Inc. exec said in May 2011, citing "key parts of our principles" including "the ability to set pricing terms" and "receiving key consumer data about subscribers."

But the company always said it wouldn't rule out iPad subscriptions down the road. Now new Time Inc. CEO Laura Lang has decided the opportunities outweighs the costs. Time Inc.'s reversal was first reported by The New York Times.

One Time Inc. exec said a feeling was growing that the company needed to be less "precious" about how and where it distributed its content.

The change brings Time Inc. in line with rivals Conde Nast and Hearst, which made the same calculation a year ago after Apple made concessions such as agreeing to ask subscribers whether publishers can see some of their personal information.

"I'm really happy that Time is going to be in the newsstand," said Monica Ray, exec VP for consumer marketing at Conde Nast. "Consumers want to have one place to go and this raises the boat for all of us."

Between 60% and 70% of Conde Nast subscribers on the iPad are allowing Apple to share their email addresses with publishers, while another 60% to 70% are providing it when publishers ask again within the app edition, Ms. Ray said.

Time Inc. appears to be pricing the iPad editions at roughly the same level as print subscriptions, which come with iPad editions under the companywide "All Access" strategy. Subscribing to People's iPad edition costs $54.99 for six months, for example, compared with $56.94 for a subscription to its print edition and its accompanying iPad access.

The move comes as Bain & Co. consultants are completing a review of Time Inc. and the media landscape ordered up by Ms. Lang in order to help set the company's new priorities.

Separately on Thursday, The Huffington Post introduced Huffington, its weekly iPad-only magazine of content that hasn't run on its site, charging $1.99 per month or $19.99 per year.

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