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Apple, Time Inc. settle magazine subscription dispute

One-time opponent to Apple's iPad newsstand will make 20 of its magazine titles available for subscription through the App Store.

Time Inc. has reached a deal with Apple to offer its magazine titles as part of Apple's digital subscriber plan.

Time Inc., once a prominent opponent to selling magazine subscriptions for the iPad, has reached an agreement to offer subscriptions to all its magazines for Apple's tablet.

The two companies have reached a deal that allows iPad users to subscribe to 20 Time Inc. titles, including Sports Illustrated, Entertainment Weekly, and People magazines through Apple's App Store, Time Inc. CEO Laura Lang told The New York Times. Until now, Time Inc. was the big holdout to Apple's digital subscription plan, which sells iPad versions of magazine content.

Until now, Time Inc. had sold only single-issue app versions of its magazines through Apple's App Store. The companies reached a deal a year ago in which the publisher would make iPad and tablet editions available to print subscribers at no additional cost.

Lang, who took over the helm at the publisher in January, told the Times she made striking a deal with Apple a top priority.

"For a magazine or brand like People or Time, a tablet will become an increasingly important part of the experience," Lang said. "Our goal is to offer content where our consumers want to read it."

Financial terms of the arrangement were not revealed.

One of the main obstacles in the past to Time Inc. subscriptions on Apple was that the processing of payments is handled by Apple within the applications via in-app purchase, wherein Apple collects 30 percent of the revenue. In addition to that 30 percent take, publishers were dissatisfied with the amount of control Apple would exercise over subscriptions and user data.

Publishers have been wrangling with Apple over who would control subscription sales and particularly subscriber data, considered a treasure trove of information and a key aspect of audience targeting and advertising deals. The Financial Times said in 2010 that its own discussions with Apple regarding digital subscriptions nearly fell apart over the issue of who owns the subscriber records -- Apple or the publication.