Joe Wikert, who works at O’Reilly Media, also authors a blog, Publishing 2020, which is recommended reading.
On Publishing 2020, Wikert recently asked “Where are all the iOS magazine subscription apps?” He wondered out loud if Apple’s 30% “cut” is discouraging publishers from pursuing the subscription route.
I don’t see Apple’s cost as the deciding factor. Our analysis shows that a cross-section of publishers spends (on average) 59% of their circulation revenue to promote and fulfill print subscription copies.
The same group of publishers typically spends a comparable share of newsstand revenue (55%) on single-copy expenses. Looking to take 30% of gross revenue, Apple starts to look like a bargain.
The more likely culprit: publisher inexperience building apps.
Subscriptions are a contract: you give me money, and I deliver an agreed-upon number of issues. Before committing to a subscription model, publishers need to know what’s involved in making that happen, not once, but every issue.
That doesn’t mean that publishers should take forever, but Apple has not been particularly proactive in providing specifications or direction for its app store. This ball started rolling only in April.
Edited August 3 to add: Apparently it’s more complicated underneath the hood.