Time Inc finally offers digital access on iPad

If you want a digital subscription to People, congratulations. Your time has come.

Time Inc, which publishes some of the most popular print publications like People, Sports Illustrated, Entertainment Weekly, and more, has announced that it will begin offering digital subscriptions through Apple’s Newsstand platform.

It was one of the most ardent opponents of digital magazine distribution and pretty much the last one to enter Newsstand with no strings attached.

Time first entered the iPad last year, but it did it in a very different way than other publishing companies.

Unlike virtually every other publisher who has joined the iPad world, Time Inc required anyone who wants digital access to its publications to sign up for the print equivalent.

That is, you could access the iPad version of Time Magazine, or People, or Sports Illustrated, only if you subscribed to the physical, paper version of the same magazine.

The digitized versions of all Time Inc properties, which also includes Fortune magazine, have been in distribution since May of last year.

All this change in the way Time handled digital distribution started just months after the prior CEO of Time Inc, Jack Griffin, left. His short-lived reign of the company was the subject of much criticism.

Every other major player still left in the print journalism business has found a deal with the iPad and other digital reading devices. The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, etc, have all embraced the new technology, but Time Inc’s move was unique in that it does not offer any sort of digital access without a corresponding print subscription.

It was without doubt a strategy to keep the print business functioning in some way. But this most recent announcement proves that was just a strategy that was headed for failure.