Photo: Wilson Rothman
Who were those protesters handing out pamphlets outside Apple’s iPad 2 announcement yesterday and what do they want?The protest and its accompanying site, SaveOurPress.com, are the brainchild of a company called Zuora, which helps publishers and software companies build and manage subscription services. Zuora CEO Tien Tzuo is on a crusade to get Apple to revise its new rules for subscriptions in iPad and iPhone apps.
His main objection isn’t the 30% cut that Apple takes of all subscription revenue sold through apps. Rather, he thinks it’s unfair that Apple requires publishers to sell subscriptions from within their apps — or else abandon the App Store (or abandon subscriptions) altogether.
He’s not only concerned that this will force publishers to abandon the iPad, which he calls a great device.
He’s also worried that this will set a precedent for software-as-a-service companies, like Salesforce.com and Ning, both of whom are Zuora customers. “What happens tomorrow? Apple can say ‘your users want an app experience on the iPad, so we’re taking 30% of your revenues as a result.'”
But doesn’t Apple has the right to set its own terms for its own store?
“That would be true if the iPad had 50% share. But it has 95% share,” says Tzuo.
That’s only true if you define tablets as a unique category rather than another form of PC. But Tzuo points out that Steve Jobs seems to think the tablet is a category unto itself: during the event yesterday, he referred to the iPad as a “post-PC device.”
So what is Zuora trying to accomplish? Tzuo says he wants to rally publishers and software-as-a-service companies to band together and get Apple to change the rules. “Boycotts would be great.” He also thinks the Department of Justice should investigate.