Financial Times kills iOS app to avoid Apple tax, switches to HTML5, succeeds

The Financial Times, which is justly famed for being one the few newspapers that manages to charge for an online version and attract substantial numbers of subscribers, pulled its app from the Apple App Store last June, after Apple announced that henceforth, all transactions taking place in apps would have to pay at 30 percent cut to the company, and Apple would control all subscriber info.

The FT developed an HTML5 app instead, which can be accessed from any browser. They now claim that 700,000 subscribers use the HTML5 version regularly, and that this makes it more popular than the app they once sold through the app store.

The FT pulled its main iPad and iPhone app from Apple store after both parties failed to reach an agreement after months of negotiations.

"App stores are actually quite strange environments," Grimshaw said. "They are cut off from most of the Web ecosystem."

A simple message on the top of the FT's Web site has been an effective marketing tool, he added.

"The world outside the App Store is not cold and desperate. Discovery is no problem at all."

(via Memex 1.1)


  1. Apple may have built their box, but at least the FT has the resources and gall to think outside of it.

    Good for them, and perhaps all of us.

    1. One day in the future, flash will be no more, yet apple will still be blaming other companies products in effort to explain why they can’t offer the same technology everyone else has.

    2. I don’t follow you.

      Flash isn’t mentioned in the article. FT withdrew their dedicated iOS app in favor of a web app for financial reasons – how is Flash at all relevant to this discussion? 

        1. …and you presume that they would otherwise have chosen to build a Flash-based app if it was supported by iOS? Seems like an unlikely choice for a business newspaper like FT. 

          Just because HTML5 is mentioned somewhere, it doesn’t mean that Flash was considered and rejected as an alternative.

          1. Just because HTML5 is mentioned somewhere, it doesn’t mean that Flash was considered and rejected as an alternative.

            You are correct.  Flash probably wasn’t even considered. Haha…

      1. Because anti flash trolling gets apple fans some sort of web cred, or at least they think it does. In reality flash is already running on iOS, selling apps through the app store and making a buck from the same people that still follow the keynote memes of the past. There is a browser for iOS that already supports it also.
        Mostly they have moved on because it is a mute point at this time, they now go with the “post-pc” era “we live in” meme, but you got to give them points for denial and framing themselves in ignorance.

        1. Flash didn’t make those bad decisions that degraded my user experience, Adobe did.

          It’s not flash that sucks, it’s Adobe, and it’s not just the flash player. And it’s nothing to do with what platform I am on. Adobe sucks on PC just as bad.

          1. Thanks for your very scientific broad blanket statements. Moving the goal posts really reframes this to where it should be. A place that doesn’t exist and where a suite of professional multi plat tools can be put down by someone that uses the word “suck” to qualify it.

            On the other hand, 60 fps gpu accelerated flash release candidate is now running across computing plats and Apple is a monopoly that couldn’t stop it as hard as they tried.

            As for the inference skills you may think you have, not so much. Reality what you been fed.

    1. If it was a story about MTV building an HTML5 site for user-created animation or something, the Flash discussion would be more germane. When the Financial Times creates a new mobile site… not so much.

      In any case, sorry to get off on such a pointless tangent like this.

    2. Um, HTML5 *is* a standard. Well, it’s in the process of becoming a standard. But what technology a content creator chooses to display their content in is their own business. I assume you’re aware that HTML5 includes plug-ins as part of the HTML architecture…?

      In any case, this article is not about Flash-bashing. And my main reaction is, people actually use Safari on their iPhone? I dread it. And gods, viewing advanced HTML5 content on it…the horror, Jim! The horror!

  2. Most frequent words appearing in the minds of Apple developers: “Monopolize, monopolize, monopolize.”
    Despite my generally positive feelings about apple products, I love the fact that the Kindle simply exists (regardless of its specific pros & cons)  for the pure purpose of competition.And I love the fact that the FT knows how to think on its feet. Gotta float like a butterfly and sting like a bee in this environment. 

  3. FT removes their native app that had questionable reason to be, replaces it with a web app (using Apple’s tools that enable web apps to have equal footing with native apps on iOS device homescreens) so that FT can retain subscriber data to sell to third parties.

    Stick it to the man?

  4. Oh, well. You can’t carry every paper in your store.
    Bye, bye FT.
    Hoping some enterprising kids see the gap and come up an iFT app. A FlipBoard app for financial news.

  5. I suppose it will be weeks before Cory realizes that now there are now two walled gardens.

    Just the new one is a lot roomier, for now.

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