Apple's Publisher Data Restrictions May Drive Them to HTML5

In a high profile and closely watched case, Apple and the Financial Times have failed to come to terms over the latter's ability to access customer-subscriber data through its iOS apps. Accordingly the publisher has pulled its FT iPad app from the iTunes app store. Apple also wants a cut of any subscriptions generated through the appstore. 

According to Reuters FT is more upset about lack of access to customer data than the 30% revenue share with Apple:

The Pearson-owned FT and Apple had been in negotiations for months but ultimately failed to reach a compromise, an FT spokesman said on Wednesday...

An FT spokesman said the company was encouraging subscribers to migrate to the Web-based app, which uses the open HTML5 standard that can be read by any browser, and is already being used by most mobile subscribers.

The spokesman described the disagreement with Apple as "amicable" and said the FT still planned future apps for the Apple App Store including one for the FT's luxury weekend magazine 'How To Spend It' as early as September.

This would be funded by advertising, however, not subscriptions, so there would be no conflict with Apple over who owns the subscriber data.

Apple's position on subscriber-customer data is wrong and it will drive more publishers to go HTML5 exclusively if there isn't a compromise. Amazon is also trying to migrate iPad users to its HTML5-based "cloud reader" because its Kindle app is no longer permitted to link to the Kindle store. Walmart's Vudu is equally promoting an HTML5 web app as opposed to an iPad app. 

App usage has gained in the recent past with Nielsen reporting that apps trump mobile web in terms of time spent:

The average Android consumer in the U.S. spends 56 minutes per day actively interacting with the web and apps on their phone. Of that time, two-thirds is spent on mobile apps while one-third is spent on the mobile web.

 Android smartphone apps-vs-web

Consumers want apps, which offer a better user experience, and publishers want to build them -- but not at any cost.

Many pundits early on predicted that the complexities of platform fragmentation would cause developers and publishers to choose the mobile web over apps. They've been wrong to date. But Apple's unreasonable publisher-data retention policies may wind up unintentionally driving them to the mobile web after all.