FT says FU to Apple, Builds HTML5 App

Tension has been building for some time between Apple and big publishers, who aren’t keen on cutting Cupertino in to the tune of 30% for all subscriptions sold on iOS.

The Financial Times released a HTML5-based web app that works exactly like something users would purchase in the iTunes store. It’s the first move by a major publisher to sidestep Apple completely while continuing to offer their product on iPhone and iPad in the app format users have come to expect.

“The App Store is a phenomenon, but it’s one that comes at a price,” said Rob Grimshaw, managing director of FT.com. “We don’t feel its worth our while and so we’re walking away from it for right now.”

At their annual developer’s conference yesterday, Apple unveiled Newstand, which makes all compliant papers and magazines available for download in a single place with a single click, much the same way iBooks now operates.The deadline for publishers to start paying Apple is later this month and some big names like the New York Times have already agreed to the tithe.

“A lot of this is more in the minds of publishers than consumers,” said Grimshaw. “We’ve already got more than 200,000 digital subscribers.”

With a solid user base established, the FT wanted to reach the broadest swath of mobile devices. “We want to be on every platform without having to pay to develop a different app. We want our site to appear in search and to be able to link to stories in an email campaign,” said Grimshaw. “It’s about far more than Apple, it’s about the future of the web.”