Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Financial Times launches web based app to bypass Apple's App Store, but strategy is a comedy of errors

This post was written before being able to reach the FT website page in order to access its new web-based app. For a look at the actual web app go here.

I see the Financial Times, which has says it has done well with Apple's App Store, has decided to launch a web version which seeks to bypass the App Store altogether. The problem appears that in their rush to regain that 30 percent commission back from Apple the publisher appears to have forgotten a few things.

In a rather bold move, the FT is telling its readers to stop using its native app and to move over immediately to the new web-app version:

We have launched a new, faster, more complete app for the iPad and iPhone which is available via your browser rather than from an app store.

We're encouraging our readers to switch immediately to the new FT web app, as many new features and sections will be added over the coming weeks. Make sure you don't miss out on these updates.
The move, and its attitude, is sure to anger Apple – and clearly this is a violation of the developer agreement that requires that one not launch apps that are more expensive than other solutions, and further it violates the rule that one can not charge for content when one is offering the same product for free online. So Apple would be well within its rights to pull the FT app from the app store.

But the real problem here is that the Financial Times has launched a web-app then not made sure the page used to install it can be accessed. All morning the page readers are directed to has been unresponsive.

Worse, when one uses their browser on their iPad to try and reach the page through the website one is immediately rebuffed by the FT themselves who require you to register with the paper before accessing the story about the app. It's Catch 22, they don't want you to use the native app anymore, but are making it impossible to use their new solution.

For me, all this was inevitable: when you have media writers and critics telling publishers to avoid working with Apple you end up with a situation where conflict is inevitable. No surprise then that many independent publishers believe the App Store offers them the best chance to beat their old media competitors: when it comes to New Media traditional publishers have shown they haven't a clue.

Well, assuming the FT finally gets their web page to begin working again you might be able to get access this new version of the Financial Times. For now, this video will be the only someone will be to see what the publisher is trying to do here: