Apple snubs Time Inc over iPad subscription ban

The notoriously fickle Apple has apparently banned Time Inc. from selling and managing subscriptions for its iPad apps.

According to Peter Kafka of all All Things Digital, the publisher was poised to launch a subscription version of its Sports Illustrated iPad app, where consumers would download the magazines via Apple’s iTunes and pay Time Inc. directly.

“But Apple rejected the app at the last minute, forcing the Time Warner (TWX) unit to sell single copies, using iTunes as a middleman,” wrote Kafka.

“Since then, Time executives ‘have been going nuts,’ trying to figure out how to get Apple (AAPL) to approve a subscription plan. One of the more desperate suggestions, which apparently didn’t get traction: Pulling the publisher’s apps out of the iTunes store altogether.”

Kafka added that Steve Jobs had personally “made a point” of reaching out to Time executives and editors prior to the iPad’s launch.

“So what happened? One theory: Apple is concerned about the publisher’s plans for the consumer data it would collect with each subscription.

“[Or], a darker one: Steve Jobs loves the idea of digital magazines and wants to control the market for himself.

“[Of course], the Time Inc. insiders I talked to don’t have a clear answer, presumably because they can’t get one from Apple itself.”