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Future content floods through Apple app

by on 18 Oct, 2011

Future Publishing has delivered 2 million downloads through the Apple Newstand function in 4 days.  The downloads cover 50 of Future’s publications across three platforms iPad, iPhone and iPod touch.  It offers free content, paid-for and premium products.

But is it making money?  Future won’t say, can’t say as it is in the quiet period having closed its annual accounts and not yet released the figures due out in November.

My bet, impressive though these figures are, is that the vast majority is free content.  We have seen how little paid digital subscriptions have caught on yet in the UK.  The highest paid-for digital sub in the UK was Men’s Health with only 1,746 subscribers.

Premium content through Apple apps at £12.99

The premium products may earn something: the highest price from Future is £12.99.  Future is known as a publisher which rests largely on its subscription income and charges high rates for its specialist content.  The average cover price for a paper mag in the previous financial year was £5.04.  58% of its turnover is from circulation.  But the number of mags sold per month in that year was 3.4 million, down from 3.6 million.

An essential investment with  delayed return?

So, if the circulation turnover is under pressure, the digital turnover needs to rise.  And it is rising: over 25% is online turnover.  But this involves heavy investment.   And, as I guess, the vast bulk of the downloads are free content.   Just a little boost in the economy could make this investment an early winner of returns rather than a later one.  The way things are going in the economy, it may be a later return on an essential investment.

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