Nieman Foundation at Harvard
HOME
          
LATEST STORY
Newsonomics: The Washington Post’s ambitions for Arc have grown — to a Bezosian scale
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
Aug. 7, 2017, 2:13 p.m.
Mobile & Apps

Six years later, the Financial Times is back in the App Store. (Apple still won’t get a cut of subscriptions.)

“We saw that we had a much higher app adoption rate on Android, where we had a native app, than on iOS.”

“Six years is a long time in product,” said Martin Fallon, the Financial Times’ product manager for apps. Six years ago was the last time that the FT’s main app was in Apple’s App Store. In 2011, the company introduced a web app and, a couple months later, pulled its dedicated iOS apps because, reportedly, it did not want to give Apple a 30 percent cut of in-app subscription revenue and wanted more information about subscribers than Apple was willing to provide.

More than half a decade later, you can find the FT app in the App Store once again (alongside some of the company’s other apps, like FTChinese, that never left.) Apple will not, however, be getting a cut of subscription revenues; as The Wall Street Journal reported Monday:

The new iOS app will therefore only be accessible to existing FT subscribers. New readers won’t be able to purchase subscriptions from within the app itself, but must instead do so from the FT’s website before logging in.

This model means the FT can avoid giving Apple a cut of subscription revenue and will allow it to collect payment information and other valuable data directly from its subscribers. Spotify and other subscription-based services have taken a similar approach in recent years.

“We identified an iOS app as a key way to drive engagement,” Fallon told me. “We saw that readers who used our existing apps were much more engaged than those who didn’t. We also saw that we had a much higher app adoption rate on Android, where we had a native app, than on iOS.” (Engagement became a bigger part of the discussion in 2015, when the FT created an audience engagement team.) He also mentioned other benefits of an iOS app over a web app: Improved offline reading, persistent login, easier sharing, and — ultimately — push notifications and automatic update downloads, things that readers have been asking for but that weren’t possible with the web app.

“Another motivation is simple — customers asked us for it,” Fallon said.

Right now, the FT’s iOS app is aimed only at existing subscribers. When you open it, you’re prompted to sign in; if you don’t, you can see a homepage but can’t read a single story. The web app will continue to exist for now, but the FT intends to move the majority of its readers over to the iOS app. (As of Monday, I couldn’t find anything on the FT’s site to alert readers to the existence of the iOS app; it was still only promoting the web app.)

The Financial Times has nearly 870,000 total paying subscribers (up 9 percent from this time last year); of those, 666,000 are digital-only subscriptions (up 13 percent from this time last year). More than 50 percent of the FT’s digital subscribers already use its apps, and with the launch of the iOS app, that percentage is expected to increase.

POSTED     Aug. 7, 2017, 2:13 p.m.
SEE MORE ON Mobile & Apps
SHARE THIS STORY
   
Show comments  
Show tags
 
Join the 45,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
Newsonomics: The Washington Post’s ambitions for Arc have grown — to a Bezosian scale
It is increasingly the tech stack of choice for major news publishers. But now Arc wants to be the backbone of your digital advertising and subscriptions, too.
Nope, there isn’t a podcast bubble
Plus: Serial’s audience grows, Gannett builds a local audio franchise, and what a Pandora–SiriusXM marriage could mean for podcasting.
Watch out, algorithms: Julia Angwin and Jeff Larson unveil The Markup, their plan for investigating tech’s societal impacts
“Journalists in every field need to have more skills to investigate those types of decision-making that are embedded in technology.”