With Apple's new iTunes subscription feature publishers can publish their digital content via the App Store and collect a recurring subscription fee. Users can easily organize, browse and manage their subscriptions in one place. That sounds great until you hear about the cut Apple is taking: 30% for the lifetime of the subscription. That sounds a little steep to me. It makes me wonder, given the fact iPads have an excellent high performance browser with the latest HTML5 capabilities, why wouldn't publishers just deliver the same subscription content on the web? In addition to keeping 100% of the fee they would be targeting multiple devices. The coming onslaught of Android tablets also have state of the art HTML5 browsers.
The answer I've been hearing is the convenience of browsing and managing subscriptions from one place and the need for offline viewing. I can see the convenience argument, but loosing 30% of their subscription fees may be enough to motivate a group of major publishers to back an HTML5 newsstand. The offline argument doesn't hold because you could facilitate this with regular web content via the new local storage API.
The next few months will be very, very interesting. Will publishers line up for a 30% spanking from Apple or stand their ground with HTML5? Now would be a really good time for an HTML5 bookstore start-up that has the right connections in the publishing industry. If you could get a handful of the big guys it could start an avalanche.