We took Apple to task in the latest issue of the Seybold Report (11.3), which we published yesterday. Apple has apparently decided it will force publishers who want to sell content for the iPad to add in a subscription or purchase option in each app. That means for every sale of the publisher's content that goes through the App store, Apple will get 30% of the sale price. I say "apparently" because 1) Apple does not seem to have an official spokesperson for dealing with publishers, so this is all on the level of hearsay and 2) nobody in publishing can wrap their minds around the prospect of losing 30% of the sale price (not the net price, the gross price) of their content sales on the iPad.
I know this policy is going to make more than a few publishers simply walk away from publishing any content on the iPad. Not just paid content. Any content. Publishers are already straining their budgets and pulling their hair out to figure out a way to stretch existing staff and other resources to do some kind of mobile publishing. There is simply no more give in their budgets. Apple's policy is just another reason for publishers to give up on the whole idea of multi-channel publishing.
The European Newspaper Publishers' Association issued a statement February 7 calling on all tablet PC vendors, including Apple, to be realistic about what will work for publishers and what will not work (sucking all profits out of mobile publishing efforts goes in that category, in my mind). The Association tendered its objection a little more gently, saying "The European Newspaper Publishers’ Association (ENPA) today called on technology companies to ensure that newspaper subscribers can continue to enjoy access to news content on tablets and other online services, without any restrictive conditions."
I wish more publishing trade associations would just say what we are all thinking: "Yes, Amazon, Apple, HP, and whoever else, we know you want to make some money from our content. Well, so do we. And if we are not happy with our profit levels, or we cannot make money selling our content on your medium, well, then you will not have enough content to sell to make your medium worth the silicon it is printed on. If you are going to keep this up, we are better off using paper and just paper."