In what may be seen as an incendiary move The Financial Times has become the first major publisher to launch an app for smartphones and tablets that can be accessed via a web browser. Users do not need to visit the iTunes app store to get the app.
Users simply point their browser at app.ft.com and then click on the ‘save to home page’ icon to create the app. The app is downloaded throughout the day and users have the option of a light version or one that contains a wider array of stories.
The app has been built using the HTML5 web standard and works across almost all major smartphones and tablets.
The FT cites the move as a response to Apple’s reluctance to share detailed data on the identities and behaviour of users of apps distributed throughoput its store.
However John Ridding, chief executive at the FT insists that the new app isn’t about getting back at Apple and that the pair are still in talks about data sharing. Rather it is about ensuring that readers have a consistent experience.’
Nevertheless the move will be seen as a shot across Apple’s bow in that publishers could be preparing to bypass the iTunes store completely at some point in the future. We have already seen magazines created in HTML5 and the Majoobi app creator works in a similar, though less complex way to the FT app.
The move is likely to have widespread support within the industry. Gina Lovett from trade newspaper NMA wrote this morning
Most apps to date have been born under constraints such as Apple’s taking a 30% cut of sales and little opportunity to collect subscription information. It’s this that has stymied any real advancement of apps as a viable revenue stream. That the FT has found a way to bypass the gatekeepers and keep hold of its user relationship and valuable data will be seen as a real coup for publishers.
Incidentally here’s how we got on with the Majoobi app