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Media Wars: European battle lines drawn


It gets curiouser and curiouser. I read in this morning’s Financial Times that 60 publishers have been huffing and puffing at Heathrow Airport. Apparently they “simply can’t afford” to invest in new technology platforms which take a 30% cut. They are reportedly concerned about censorship, transparency and Apple’s plans to share with publishers only such data that consumers opt in to sending. Poor lambs; they are quite happy continuing to invest in old technology and letting the newcomers pick up the tab.

They are frustrated by Apple’s command of over 70% of the tablet market and Grzegorz Piechota, president of INMA Europe, an international news industry association, contemplates “antagonistic actions” against Apple.

Ken Doctor, a news industry analyst, said Apple’s cost of managing subscriptions may justify only a “low single-digit” charge but commented that “Apple deserves something for its investment in hardware and software, plus a bonus for outrageous ahead-of-the-pack ingenuity.”

With Google having launched its OnePass scheme this week, on a rumoured 10% commission basis, some observers believe that Apple will find itself having to negotiate and could have to settle for a lower cut.


But I wonder what these “antagonistic actions” could be and whether Apple will hoist the white flag any time soon? Will Cupertino be trembling this morning? We certainly live in interesting times, and the old-style publishers are living in the most interesting time of all. Whatever percentage they can agree on, their time is up.

Perhaps they would have done better to meet not at Heathrow but in the grand hall of London’s Natural History Museum. There they could have hobnobbed with the dinosaurs and maybe learned a trick or two about waging antagonistic warfare.

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