Very interesting article by Peter Kafka in AllThingsD this morning about Time Inc.’s frustration with Apple. Apparently Time executives are mystified as to why Apple won’t give them control to sell their own subscriptions via an app for the iPad.
Well, I’ll tell you why: Apple loves to control the billing relationship. They don’t want to give it up. This was the brilliance of iTunes and how they ended up taking control of digital music from the music industry. It was the music industry’s huge strategic error. Apple knows that if they control the billing relationship, they control the access to the customer, and therefore can dictate the terms of just about any ecommerce relationship.
Why Time Inc. executives are so “mystified” by this is a mystery to me. Apparently their magazine executives are not talking to executives in the same company that got reamed in the music business. Apple wants to control billing, they want to control pricing, and they want to control the consumer. Period. You want to try to mess with that? Take a hike.
This is one reason why I don’t think the iPad will be the “savior” of the media industry that everybody has made it out to be. Unless Apple opens up, and starts sharing a bigger piece of the pie with content and applications producers, it will be the same movie all over again.