Apple is keeping the whole in-app subscription thing hush for the time being, but the Wall Street Journal claims that March 31st will be the magic date for publishers to have their apps ready by according to a tip from UK publishing developers, Yudu. Clearing up confusion about Apple’s required subscription model, publishers should still be able to offer services outside of the App Store, but a payment option through iTunes is mandatory. Mostly likely Apple will want a 30% cut of all periodicals sold through the App Store, and whether or not we’ll see services like Kindle and Barnes & Noble jumping ship remains to be seen. For the customer, ultimately unifying the subscription experience in the App Store and getting publishers to price competitively with The Daily will benefit consumers who otherwise pay outrageous fees – individual issues of magazines can cost up to $5.00 per issue, a subscription to The Economist totals $110 a year, and the New York Times can total an incredible $240 a year. Current workarounds for selling periodicals simply aren’t working: Apple’s “fix” should appeal to a much larger consumer base skeptical about the future of digital media.
March 31st is a likely date: with iOS 4.3 and the second generation iPad expected soon, publishers will have a solid month to prepare their content for Apple’s latest device.