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Monday, September 20, 2010, 10:30 am PT (01:30 pm ET)

Content subscriptions for Apple's iPad could debut in 1-2 months

Apple's anticipated standalone digital newsstand application, which is expected to offer subscriptions to newspapers and magazines on the iPad, could debut as soon as in the next few months, according to The Wall Street Journal.

On Monday, the Journal reported that Apple, in recent weeks, has pushed hard to court publishers for its planned magazine and newspaper offering for the iPad. Sources reportedly that a print subscription offering could debut in the next month or two.

However, one person indicated that Apple is still working on the product and may wait until next year to formally introduce it. If Apple does wait, it is likely that the service would be unveiled alongside a next-generation iPad.

The report also added support to the rumor, first reported last week, that the digital newsstand apparently in the works from Apple will be a standalone application, much like the iBooks store for iOS devices. The new store will apparently be focused on selling subscriptions, rather than single issues of print publications.

In addition, last week another report indicated that Apple is poised to announce new subscription plans for publications on the iPad. It is rumored that such a product would include a revenue sharing model similar to the one used for selling software on the App Store.

But the Journal said that Apple's subscription service would not allow publishers "easy access" to customers' names and other personal information. That has apparently been a major sticking point for newspaper executives, who rely on customer data to sell advertising.

It also said that publishers are concerned about the 30 percent cut Apple would take, as it does on all App Store sales.

"At present, Apple typically doesn't sell subscriptions, instead offering monthly iPad editions of Wired magazine for $3.99 each, or a daily edition of Gannett Co.'s USA Today free," the report said. "Subscriptions, however, are a much more important business for U.S. publishers, representing seven of every 10 newspapers and magazines sold. Publishers also mine subscriber rolls for names, email addresses, credit-card numbers and other information to help them attract advertisers and target new offers to readers."

Authors Shira Ovide and Yukari Iwatani Kane said that Apple has had talks with some publishers, including Time Inc., Conde Nast, News Corp., and Hearst Corp. But, it said, it "isn't clear" whether those publishers have agreed to Apple's terms.

"Some publishers say the ability to peddle their wares to the 160 million Apple account holders outweigh any loss of control in working with Apple," the report said. "Some print-company executives who have spoken with Apple also say the company is open to finding ways to share names or other useful information about buyers of print titles on the iPad."