Stephen Foley: Apple bows down as King Content rules


US Outlook: Steve Jobs strode out on stage to reveal his iCloud, for all the world like the master of the technological universe. In truth, Apple has shown its weakness this week.

For starters, it appears to have agreed to quite generous terms with the record labels to get its iCloud off the ground, so that consumers can easily upload their existing tracks to the new digital locker in the sky – advances of more than $100m, it was reported.

It has also quietly caved in to magazine publishers who wanted to sell subscriptions without having to pay the 30 per cent commission to Apple. It dropped a provision that required publishers to sell digital subscriptions through the iTunes store at the same price as elsewhere.

A publishers' strike had threatened to reduce the amount of content available on the iPad, just as other tablets were trying to get a foothold in the market. The coup de grâce was delivered by the UK's own Pearson, which decided against a Financial Times app for the iPad in favour of a version for subscribers that works in a tablet's ordinary web browser – and will therefore work just as well on any tablet, not just the iPad.

For a while, Apple had threatened to upend the usual hierarchy of the media business by taking a huge margin on access to its devices. But really it is just a technology platform. King Content, it seems, has regained his crown.

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