Financial Times Ending Support for iOS App

Tuesday May 1, 2012 1:27 PM PDT by Jordan Golson
Last year, the Financial Times, a major business newspaper, announced it would discontinue its iOS app in favor of an HTML5 based web app. The move was in response to Apple's requirement that it get a 30% cut of any subscription sold through iTunes, as well as Apple's refusal to pass along the personal information of subscribers without their permission.

The FT's sleek HTML5 web app has been very well received. The FT said it had no difficulty driving users to the mobile app, noting that "the world outside the App Store is not cold and desperate."

Though the FT's native iOS app continued working for customers who had already downloaded it, that support will be discontinued as upgrades the FT is making over the next month will render the app unusable, according to PaidContent.
It is taking the step because only a relative handful of users remain and because it can no longer continue to maintain features inside the app.
The HTML5 web app has been a success for the Financial Times, with mobile accounting for 12% of new paid subscriptions and 19% of FT.com web traffic.

Top Rated Comments

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Posted: 34 months ago
My problem is more with the pricing policy. They wanted me to subscribe to the hardcopy daily edition and then pay another $325 per year for the electronic version. So, $700/year? The FT is good but not that good. Their rival, The Economist, took the opposite approach. Full online and app access is free with a paid print subscription and the iPhone and iPad apps totally rock. Guess which one I read and which one I dropped. :p
Rating: 11 Votes
Posted: 34 months ago
30% is a pretty big finder's fee. I would have done the same.
Rating: 4 Votes
Posted: 34 months ago

My problem is more with the pricing policy. They wanted me to subscribe to the hardcopy daily edition and then pay another $325 per year for the electronic version. So, $700/year? The FT is good but not that good. Their rival, The Economist, took the opposite approach. Full online and app access is free with a paid print subscription and the iPhone and iPad apps totally rock. Guess which one I read and which one I dropped. :p

FT owns half of The Economist, so they are not really rivals. However, I agree, subscription policy of The Economist is much more reader friendly and their app is much nicer than a webapp. Offline reading, audio version of every article available as a download for offline listening, ease of navigation within each issue and of course the quality of their coverage is awesome.

I just wish there was a way to search and copy/paste. There is no reason for not having search in electronic media and if the copy/paste is missing due to piracy concerns, that is exceptionally dumb, as I can copy the text of every article easily from their website.
Rating: 4 Votes
Posted: 34 months ago

30% is a pretty big finder's fee. I would have done the same.


We seem to forget that apple supports HTML5 and web apps were actually forced on them by the community. They prefer an ecosystem where they can focus on building great products. The 30% covers their expenses including maintaining service and credit card fees. If FT has their own customer base then this is the best move for them. Many Apple Developers benefit from the millions of consumers who would have never heard of them or their service if they were not in the Appstore. Its a simple but effective concept. Apple invest millions in advertising their store, they maintain and support it, including backups and re-downloading to many devices.

FT will now do everything themselves and the cost to match the level of service will not be cheap, but they will have access to the data on their customers they want.
Rating: 3 Votes
Posted: 34 months ago

Stupid web app. I turned from FT away after they introduced it. I want the FT in my newsstand. I don't need external apps for all my subscriptions, that's what newsstand is for. Absolutely love reading the economist over the news stand app


Then you probably understand the free market: Apple charge an awful lot for their "services" when you're talking about repeat subscriptions. Therefore the market has come up with alternatives which don't include paying "Apple tax".

It's nice to see HTML5 being used in such a way.
Rating: 3 Votes
Posted: 34 months ago

30% is a pretty big finder's fee. I would have done the same.


Agreed. Updating to HTML5 is a no-brainer for many subscription based content providers. Plus you don't have all the app store hurdles.
Rating: 2 Votes
Posted: 34 months ago
FT has great content and analysis, world news, comments and analysis sections as well as quality columnists in-house and their ability to draw in interesting players like George Soros (their A-List blog) are all reasons I subscribe to their electronic edition.

I've tried the web-based app but I'm frustrated with it as it doesn't seem to update as effectively and fully across sections. The user interface is neat, smooth and easy to read but the contents of the web version of the FT site are often not reflected in the web app. That's poor service. :confused:

With a website as clean as the FT's, why don't they just make the site fully iOS friendly and skip the app, replacing it with a simple home screen link button on iOS devices? Get the people behind to web app to show the FT's editorial board what a home button and iOS friendly site looks like.

Let the chips fall on their (excellent) content and not on some silly malfunctioning app or choice between Newsstand or freestanding web-based app. That'd be my advice to the FT's decisionmakers.
Rating: 2 Votes
Posted: 34 months ago

I see this happening more often in the future when it comes to mobile native vs webapps. As webapps become more rich, with better libaries ( i.e., jQuery mobile ) the gap between native vs webapp is decreasing.

Sure, webapps aren't suitable for all type of apps and native apps will continue. But.. there are a great many applications that do work.

Creating a webapp that runs of multiple platforms is vastly cheaper than developing individual native applications.


It's really ironic, but this is what Apple gets for championing HTML5: For many applications, the App Store becomes completely irrelevant and Apple's business model will no longer work for them.

Okay, Steve Jobs praised HTML5 so high not because he actually liked the technology, but at the time it a) did not really exist "in the wild" and b) it sounded nice as an argument to kill Flash, that evil platform that allowed for easy development of multi-platform software. In other words, he tried to use HTML5 as a clever trap to lock people into iOS.

In the meantime, some companies that were unwilling to pay Apple a 30% tax did the unthinkable: Led by Amazon (who were the first to do this), they actually began using HTM5 to write platform independent software instead of using Adobe's ecosystem for the same purpose or using Apple's own tools to write native iOS apps.

I wonder when Apple begins ranting against HTML5, now that this technology works against their tight App Store business model. And not only that, every new HTML5 app also makes their competition stronger; all other platforms also have HTML5-compatible browsers and thus do not need a vast amount of native apps.

It's the browser that matters, not the operating system and the native software for it. That already was Bill Gates' nightmare back in the day when Netscape became huge and it caused Microsoft to go on a crusade against Netscape. Now Apple faces a similar situation with HTML5 web apps.
Rating: 2 Votes
Posted: 34 months ago

It's really ironic, but this is what Apple gets for championing HTML5: For many applications, the App Store becomes completely irrelevant and Apple's business model will no longer work for them.

Okay, Steve Jobs praised HTML5 so high not because he actually liked the technology, but at the time it a) did not really exist "in the wild" and b) it sounded nice as an argument to kill Flash, that evil platform that allowed for easy development of multi-platform software. In other words, he tried to use HTML5 as a clever trap to lock people into iOS.

In the meantime, some companies that were unwilling to pay Apple a 30% tax did the unthinkable: Led by Amazon (who were the first to do this), they actually began using HTM5 to write platform independent software instead of using Adobe's ecosystem for the same purpose or using Apple's own tools to write native iOS apps.

I wonder when Apple begins ranting against HTML5, now that this technology works against their tight App Store business model. And not only that, every new HTML5 app also makes their competition stronger; all other platforms also have HTML5-compatible browsers and thus do not need a vast amount of native apps.

It's the browser that matters, not the operating system and the native software for it. That already was Bill Gates' nightmare back in the day when Netscape became huge and it caused Microsoft to go on a crusade against Netscape. Now Apple faces a similar situation with HTML5 web apps.


"This is what Apple gets for championing HTML"? WTF.

Get your facts straight, fool!

It's a zero-sum game. FT isn't on the App store, it means Apple doesn't have to spend money to maintain their "storefront." The App store was never created to make money for Apple. FT obviously saw "success" after a year. But they also spend money maintaining their "storefront." Their biggest reason for moving was user data for advertising dollars.
Rating: 2 Votes
Posted: 34 months ago

"This is what Apple gets for championing HTML"? WTF.

Get your facts straight, fool!

It's a zero-sum game. FT isn't on the App store, it means Apple doesn't have to spend money to maintain their "storefront." The App store was never created to make money for Apple. FT obviously saw "success" after a year. But they also spend money maintaining their "storefront." Their biggest reason for moving was user data for advertising dollars.


The website-brochure for the iPad 3 is my favourite implementation of HTML5 so far, and I can't remember having such an integrated interactive experience with Flash. In my opinion, Flash lacks any demonstrated comparative integrations of Flash elements in webpages, they still feel quite clunky in the wild.

Maybe Jobs/Apple were sold on similar prototypes that produced results that closer matched their vision than Flash. As a Data Tech company, they quite rightly have every reason to promote standards that favour them.
Rating: 1 Votes

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