The FT withdrew their iOS apps in 2011 – why haven’t you?

The Financial Times app

Have you tried The Financial Times’ app? You don’t need to download it – just go to

The FT decided back in June 2011 that they did not want to give Apple 30% of their revenue, wanted to deal direct with their subscribers and not share their valuable details.

Whilst most publishers and brands talk about responsive sites and their new or forthcoming app, the FT’s web page just shows you an app-style page when viewed in Safari on an iPhone or iPad.

It’s excellent. The only question is – why don’t more sites do this?

The Financial Times iPad app


  • Owen Greenwell

    It is an interesting experiment. The FT has the benefit of a built-in audience who will seek them out and the wherewithal to develop their own platform at the bleeding edge of HTML5.

    Other publishers largely depend on “findability” in the app store (beyond existing readers) and need to start with a vendor platform rather than developing an app and infrastructure from scratch.

    The NY Times and Economist have demonstrated you can collect reader data by prompting app store purchasers to sign up access to the web site paywall or other bundled services.

    • Hi Owen,

      True – everyone’s got their own goals.

      What struck me recently:

      1) There’s a lot of talk about “responsive” websites at the moment – generally people mean a thinner screen on a smart phone. But why not go further and make the site behave completely differently on tablets?

      2) “We must have an app” – many are built for the sake of it and don’t get many downloads or active users. “Branded apps are crisp packets on the pavement of the mobile internet.”

      3) Many people in AU digital publishing seem not to be aware of the FT app and the potential of doing the same.


  • Owen Greenwell

    Hi Julian,

    1) Responsive design is no walk in the park. Publishers are unlikely to have in-house skills to do this well. Off the shelf tools for responsive web sites that I have sampled do not have the depth of functionality most publishers need. Web apps may work fine for largely text based content (like financial newspapers), but if you have an image intensive publication, e.g. fashion glossy or want reader engagement beyond the text then it gets an order of magnitude more complex. Also:

    – degrees of HTML5 support varies between browsers and platforms (so QA is still significant)
    – Graphical performance of the browser is not as good as native.
    – Browser based apps can’t take advantage of device hardware like cameras

    2) Agreed. Plenty of money wasted. Although doing nothing is not much of a strategy either. If publishers learned from their early app endeavours then there is some value to understanding the market and their readers.

    3) FT acquired Assanka, the dev shop that built their HTML5 app. My experience is AU publishers know all about the FT. When their heart restarted after getting the quotes from some dev shops they looked at other alternatives 🙂

    • “When their heart restarted after getting the quotes from some dev shops they looked at other alternatives :)”