FT heads towards a likely Apple showdown

The Financial Times said its relationship with Apple has thawed after the publisher launched a browser application which gives users the ability to experience apps outside Apple's iTunes App Store.

On 7 June the FT launched what it called a faster and automatically updating app available directly through a web browser using HTML5 technology.

The browser-based application for tablets does all the same things a true application can do, but lives entirely on the web - meaning no download needed.

The app.ft.com launch comes as Apple prepares to take 30% of revenue from subscriptions sold on iTunes and enforce a rule that subscribers must sign up through the iTunes App Store, rather than with publishers directly. So along with taking a fair amount of subscription revenue, Apple is looking to control the customer relationship.

But FT.com managing director Rob Grimshaw, said the publisher was not happy with the new terms and is currently reviewing its position within the App Store.

Speaking at an ADMA seminar in Hong Kong yesterday, Grimshaw said it was possible the FT may not have a presence in Apple's App Store, but added it was working towards Apple's deadline of 30 June to decide.

"We've been in discussions with Apple all the way through this [launch] process and we don't want to end up in a huge fight with them," he said.

"But at the end of the day it's a business decision based on certain terms and conditions. We don't feel comfortable with those terms and conditions so from a hard-headed point of view we need to be pragmatic and find another way to access the marketplace.  That's just business," Grimshaw added.

"We are not the only publisher pushing Apple to say this is not the right way to do things and I think there are a lot of big players like Netflix who are saying they can't work with this."

The application launch also follows some impressive results for the FT's mobile offering, which he said is growing at a rate of more than 50% year-on-year.

Grimshaw said it was possible that within three years, a great bulk - possibly half of the FT's audience - would be consuming its content via mobile devices.

"There's a revolution going on in consumption," Grimshaw said. "We need to bring mobile right to the core of our operation."