- The Financial Times, the business newspaper with a circulation of 850,000 readers in digital and print, introduced a mobile application for Apple iOS devices in the U.S. and the U.K. The publisher is returning to Apple six years after abandoning the platform after disagreements over revenue and data sharing.
- Since 2011, the FT's full range of content has only been available to Apple device users on a mobile website. The FT had spurned a "native" iOS app partly because of Apple's requirement to be paid a 30% cut of any subscription revenue generated from apps in its App Store, people familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal.
- Cait O'Riordan, the FT's chief product and information officer, said the company is seeking an improved lifetime value from engaged readers. The company hopes the app, available for iPhone and iPad, will help boost subscriber engagement and sales. The iOS app is only accessible to existing FT subscribers. New readers need to purchase a subscription from the website before logging into the app.
While the exact terms of Apple and the FT's revenue sharing is unknown, the publisher clearly didn't see enough value from turning over 30% of its app-generated subscription revenue to the tech giant. By requiring readers to manage their subscription on its website, the FT also can maintain greater control over the data of its customers. Apple collects a lot of information about its users, but the company is also sensitive to the privacy concerns of its customers.
Meanwhile, the FT recognizes that a native iOS app has technical advantages that will help maintain reader engagement. Native apps let users remain logged-in, provide better video downloads, make sharing articles easier and allow readers to download some content to their devices to read while offline, The Wall Street Journal reported. Native apps have more advantages for publishers when it comes to placing ads on mobile screens.
Mobile devices drive 55% of the FT's pageviews, but the company's key product wasn't available in the App Store. FT competitors such as Bloomberg, the Economist and Barron's were available under searches for the term "financial times."
In the broader mobile landscape, publishers continue to struggle to find the right to reach mobile users as print subscriptions decline while also being able to earn money through either ads or subscriptions. FT and others have experimented with Google AMP, Facebook Instant Articles and Snapchat Discover, among other strategies. FT's return to the Apple App Store suggests that a native app still provides important benefits for engaging iPhone users.