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Financial Times pulls apps from Apple's App Store

The newspaper's iOS apps have disappeared from the App Store and been replaced by a specific Web-based mobile app designed for both the iPad and iPhone.

The Financial Times's Web-based app is replacing its ousted iTunes apps.
The Financial Times's Web-based app is replacing its ousted iTunes apps. Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

The Financial Times has removed its iOS apps from Apple's App store in response to a policy that gives the latter a 30 percent cut of sales.

To replace its dedicated iOS apps, London-based FT has rolled out its own mobile Web-based app designed for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad and accessible through Safari and other mobile iOS browsers. The mobile Web app has actually been online since May while FT prepped itself for a possible exit from the App Store. But now the mobile site is the only option for subscribers who want access to the Financial Times from their iOS devices.

Encouraging subscribers to switch to the new Web-based app, FT is touting it as superior to its old iOS app with faster performance, a wider range of content, an option for offline reading, and of course, no download required. Nonsubscribers can see the headlines, photos, and brief descriptions of each story. Reading full stories requires a paid subscription.

The FT rep said that over 550,000 people are using FT's mobile Web site, more than the number of those using the iPhone and iPad apps combined.

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Announced in February but only being enforced since the end of June, Apple's new policy dictates that it receive 30 percent of all subscription sales generated through the App Store. Publishers reluctant to give up that large a cut can instead sign up subscribers from their own sites, but they must offer the same subscription terms and pricing as they do through their iOS apps.

Even further, the user information obtained through new subscriptions from an iOS app goes to Apple, another point of contention for publishers who want control over their own customer data.

Like many other publishers, the Financial Times hasn't been too happy with Apple's new guidelines. Still, even after launching its new mobile site, the company had maintained its iTunes apps and was negotiating with Apple to find a way to keep the apps alive. But according to The Wall Street Journal, executives at FT said that the "focus going forward would be on Web apps, where they could keep all the revenue and control the customer relationship."

Updated at 6:25 a.m. PT with information from an FT representative.