Home Can Publishers Really Avoid Apple’s Subscription Fee Through Yudu?

Can Publishers Really Avoid Apple’s Subscription Fee Through Yudu?

A new service from digital content management company Yudu will supposedly be able to allow publishers to bypass Apple’s 30% fee on service subscriptions through the App Store.

According to Reuters, the new dual-subscription system from Yudu will “allow users to download publications onto their Apple device through the App Store, even when the purchase is made directly from the publisher.” The way that Yudu operates is that it submits a branded app to Apple on behalf of the publisher. The publisher can update the app and sell additional content by feeding it through the Yudu service.

The “dual-subscription” is that consumers would sign up for a subscription of a magazine through the publishers’ site and then access that subscription through the branded app in the App Store.

Yudu has dozens of publisher partners including Reader’s Digest, Runway Magazine and DJ Magazine.

Reuters says that Apple has recognized the service as compliant with its terms and conditions. This fits with what Apple CEO Steve Jobs said when the subscription model was unveiled Feb. 15, 2011.

“Our philosophy is simple–when Apple brings a new subscriber to the app, Apple earns a 30 percent share; when the publisher brings an existing or new subscriber to the app, the publisher keeps 100 percent and Apple earns nothing,” said Jobs in a press release.

It is unclear how Yudu differentiates itself from that model. Subscriptions can be made through Yudu which would, in theory, preclude Apple from taking its cuts via its in-app purchasing guidelines.

Yudu calls the app it creates for publishers (including marketers and catalogues) “marketing and distribution channels” that can be fed content through Yudu. We have contacted Yudu and will update this post if/when they reply.

Update: Robert Elding, marketing director of Yudu, got back to us and confirmed that the company does offer a subscription service outside of Apple’s in-app purchase. They made some “minor” amendments to the system to coincide with clause 11.2 in Apple’s App Store terms and services contract to be able to comply with the new regulations.

“We have a good relationship with Apple and have read their rules thoroughly. We have high level conversations with them several times a month and know what is and is not acceptable for the app submission process,” Elding said. “This is why we have been comfortable that we comply with their preferred working methods.”

The primary competition for Yudu is Zinio, a online magazine shop that offers iPad subscriptions to publications like The Rolling Stone and National Geographic.

The Yudu news comes a day after some confusion between a supposed agreement between Hearst Publishing and Apple for Hearst to start selling subscriptions in the App Store that would allow for Hearst to have an undetermined revenue split with Apple and the ability to retain user information. Hearst would make Esquire, Popular Mechanics and O, The Oprah Magazine available in the App Store.

“Our deal is fundamentally different from any other deal Apple has done with a publisher; we came to fair and equitable agreement that allows both parties to own customers together,” A Hearst representative told paidContent.

Yet, paidContent updated its article to say that no such deal is in place. Both Apple and Hearst have not returned comment. It is a tricky slope for Apple. If it starts making deals with Hearst then other magazine publishers, notably giant Conde Nast, will want similar favors.

The question becomes one of consumer habit. Are users more likely to go through the publishers own site and/or Yudu or through the App Store itself? Does the average magazine reader really care who gets its money as long as the application interface offers exciting content in an innovative fashion?

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