A thought on publishers whining about Apple's app store subscription terms

Apple announced (finally) a plan for allowing publishers a method of selling subscriptions to their publications (and apps and music and TV and whatnot) which includes the standard 30% cut for Apple, 70% cut for publishers.

Like everything else in Apple's catalog of stores.

70% publishers.

30% Apple.


But publishers are pissed. They say they're losing control of the relationship with their subscribers. They say they're losing money. They say rain is turning to vinegar. They say their toothbrushes are now fashioned of red-hot steel.

The thing is, I'm a potential subscriber for digital magazines. Just as I was a potential customer before Apple introduced a market for music and TV, then apps for my iPhone and iPad. Here's what happened to me.

I wasn't buying CDs or DVDs. Apple introduced me to a simple, cheap way to buy the music and movies I wanted to watch without dealing with plastic. Now, I buy music and movies regularly.

I wasn't buying apps. Web apps sucked on the iPhone at the time. Apple introduced me to a simple marketplace of great apps where developers got a fair shake, and I didn't feel like I was being kicked in the face by only buying from big box stores. Now, I'm a regular app store customer.

I wasn't buying much software for my Mac until about three weeks ago. Yeah, Apple introduced the Mac App Store and the experience is superb. I now buy apps regularly and exclusively from the Mac App Store.

See how this is playing out? I wasn't buying these things. Apple introduced a clever way for me to enjoy these things. Now I buy these things. You can make a case all you want for how developers are getting screwed, artists are getting plundered, whatever. As a customer, Apple made things easy for me by imposing their sense of sales savvy on a market which has time and again shown limited ability to think through these things for themselves.

As a customer, the message I hope I've built is this: Apple will take 30% from publishers in exchange for my business as a subscriber. That's 30% for Apple, 70% for you publishers, adding up to 100% in a transaction for which -- just yesterday -- neither party would have seen a fat nickel from me.