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Businesses The Almighty Buck Apple

Apple To Keep 30% of Magazine Subscription Revenue 381

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the more-for-me-less-for-you dept.
Hugh Pickens writes writes "The Guardian reports that Apple has launched a new subscription service for magazines, newspapers and music bought through its App Store, expanding the model developed for Rupert Murdoch's iPad newspaper and will keep 30% of the revenue from subscriptions if the subscription is purchased through Apple. 'Our philosophy is simple – when Apple brings a new subscriber to the app, Apple earns a 30% share; when the publisher brings an existing or new subscriber to the app, the publisher keeps 100% and Apple earns nothing,' says Steve Jobs, Apple's chief executive, who is presently taking a medical leave of absence from the company. 'All we require is that, if a publisher is making a subscription offer outside of the app, the same – or better – offer be made inside the app, so that customers can easily subscribe with one click right in the app.' Apple's control over its App Store payments plan has long been a cause for concern for content companies. Publishers want to have access to subscriber data which can provide lucrative demographics on which to base advertising campaigns and targeted reader offers. Apple says customers purchasing a subscription through its App Store will be given the option of providing the publisher with their names, email addresses and zip codes. The use of such information will be governed by the publisher's privacy policy rather than Apple's."
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Apple To Keep 30% of Magazine Subscription Revenue

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  • by bigzoom (1996992) on Tuesday February 15, 2011 @03:26PM (#35213562)
    Publishers in the print world will happily sell subscriptions for less than the price of postage in order to increase their paid subscription count (and hence their ad dollars). To get 70% of the subscription money, all of the ad money, and have no printing/postage costs actually doesn't sound too bad for publishers. If Apple demanded that they get 30% of ad revenue too, that would start to be a much larger issue.
    • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Tuesday February 15, 2011 @03:33PM (#35213642) Journal

      To get 70% of the subscription money, all of the ad money, and have no printing/postage costs actually doesn't sound too bad for publishers.

      Okay but why not just go to the Android Market where you get 100% of the subscription money, all of the ad money, and have no printing/postage costs?

      • by MyLongNickName (822545) on Tuesday February 15, 2011 @03:37PM (#35213668) Journal

        Because Apple does a much better job about delivering a large set of eyeballs attached to people who are already trained to pay out money for cool shiny things. Apple is primarilly a marketing company and they are damn good at it. I am not in their target demographic: young, trendy, willing to spend money for the cool factor. So Apple delivers the right audience for online magazines.

        I suspect most droid users would say "fuck it... I can get the same info for free if I just spend 10 seconds and Google it".

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Because Apple does a much better job about delivering a large set of eyeballs attached to people who are already trained to pay out money for cool shiny things. Apple is primarilly a marketing company and they are damn good at it. I am not in their target demographic: young, trendy, willing to spend money for the cool factor. So Apple delivers the right audience for online magazines.

          I suspect most droid users would say "fuck it... I can get the same info for free if I just spend 10 seconds and Google it".

          Apple is primarily a marketing company?

          Then why do they have what many in the industry consider to be the best OS, running on the best-manufactured hardware? Some consider Apple behind on tech; but I think the real answer is that they don't simply jump at every new buzzword the electronic salespeople try to sell them. Their products ALL have a fantastic build quality, and their notebooks generally last far longer than the equivalent plastic pieces of crap that pretty much everyone else foists on the buying

          • by h4rr4r (612664) on Tuesday February 15, 2011 @03:56PM (#35213902)

            The Best OS? Which one? And based on what?

            The best manufactured hardware? Foxxcon will build at whatever quality you want for anyone. Product Engineering is just slapping COTS stuff together in a shiny case.

            • If he is talking about Apple notebooks, they are made by Asus and Quanta.

            • Foxconn can only build what is designed.

              Product Engineering is just slapping COTS stuff together in a shiny case.

              And that kind of attitude is why no one else in the industry gets near the quality of Apple's hardware designs.

              • by h4rr4r (612664)

                Take some of it apart sometime, it is built the same as everyone else. Clips that you have to use a plastic tool to pop apart, etc. Heck, Apple is worse in the sense that batteries are a pain to replace compared to other vendors.

          • by lostmongoose (1094523) on Tuesday February 15, 2011 @03:57PM (#35213916)
            Who is this 'everybody' you speak of? Best OS? Subjective. Best hardware? Laughable. It's the same commodity hardware EVERY company uses inside a fancy Apply case.
            • everybody != many
            • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

              by jo_ham (604554)

              (edit after preview: for some reason the comment system is adding a ton of extra carriage returns - I didn't type it this way)

              The case is part of the hardware. I want all of that commodity stuff they put inside (it makes obtaining upgrades and repairing easier, and with the same architecture underneath it makes cross platform software development easier offering a larger selection of software for me to use).

              What I *don't* want is the shitty, noisy, tacky plastic cases that come with most PCs. I am under no

              • by tknd (979052)

                The best OS claim is subjective, but the beauty is you can run your choice of OS on an Apple - it's no irony that one of the best Windows laptops is the Macbook Pro.

                That's a lie and that's not how it works. You can run any OS of your choice on a PC, even Apple's Mac OSX. The difference is Apple will not allow you to run their OS on any hardware. There's nothing stopping me from taking a random Windows box and loading up Linux, FreeBSD, or anything else for that matter. In fact there's nothing stopping me from running OSX on my PC either, except Apple's OSX license terms.

            • by Goaway (82658) on Tuesday February 15, 2011 @04:46PM (#35214434) Homepage

              Apple hardware is pretty far from "commodity", if you actually try opening it up.

              (Or using it.)

          • by 91degrees (207121)
            Then why do they have what many in the industry consider to be the best OS, running on the best-manufactured hardware?

            Well, many people in the industry consider it to be the best OS and hardware because of Apple's marketing.
            • by jo_ham (604554)

              Marketing will only get you so far. You have to back it up with actual product quality too.

              After this amount of time, even with sometimes fantastical (some say magical!) marketing, if they were selling polished turds people would stop buying.

              • by dotwhynot (938895)

                Marketing will only get you so far. You have to back it up with actual product quality too.

                After this amount of time, even with sometimes fantastical (some say magical!) marketing, if they were selling polished turds people would stop buying.

                Obligatory Mythbusters: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yiJ9fy1qSFI [youtube.com]

        • by gstoddart (321705)

          Because Apple does a much better job about delivering a large set of eyeballs attached to people who are already trained to pay out money for cool shiny things.

          Oh, get over it. Apple consumers are no more conditioned to buy shiny things than anybody else, and, in case you haven't been paying attention .... absolutely everybody is scrambling to go to a locked down marketplace so they can "monetize the eyeballs". Apple does a better job of providing an integrated experience that just 'works' without all sor

        • Sorta but not quite. This is all directed at Amazon. Apple has always delivered really well engineered premium products. It's just that the latest batch has a built-in distribution system. So now that they have a ton of customers they're going to try abusing their near-monopoly position. There's also some collateral damage to other companies who are doing business via Apple's platform. Where are they gonna go, The Blackberry App Store? It's not so different from what Amazon has been doing the whole t

      • This is a serious question. Apple set up the App store with the intent that they host and provide ads and what not, and they get their 30%. They are in fact providing services, so Apple's model makes sense to me, at least in terms of fairness. In terms of competition it's an entirely different matter.

        It's fairly easy to post a free app to a specific Market, which is marketed and hosted by the android market, but since it's free, they get no money. You could then create an in app subscription model where

        • Like iTunes, the Android Market charges 30% on app purchases and 30% on in-app purchases conducted through the Market, as well. The difference is that the Open Handset Alliance doesn't require you to use the Android Market to deliver apps to Android devices, and does not appear require that content subscriptions are available through in-app purchase on the same terms as out-of-app purchases (they do require that payment you receive for the app itself be through the Market, but do not appear to prohibit out-

      • Because 100% of $2000 isn't as much as 70% of $20mil?

        (And yes I'm making up these numbers, but you'd have to be a troll not to understand the difference in scale here).
        • by Tsiangkun (746511)
          Indeed, is the Android Market place celebration for 10,000,000,000 apps downloaded going to be soon ? Apple had theirs already.
      • by ceoyoyo (59147)

        I'm sure lots of publishers will. And ALSO have iOS apps. You know, for all those millions of people who iOS devices.

      • Okay but why not just go to the Android Market where you get 100% of the subscription money, all of the ad money, and have no printing/postage costs?

        Because Android users don't tend to buy content.

      • by node 3 (115640)

        It's not either-or. You know what's better than 100% from Android? 100% from Android *and* 70% from iOS.

        In fact, even it it was either-or, 70% from iOS is still more lucrative than 100% from Android.

      • by Solandri (704621)

        Okay but why not just go to the Android Market where you get 100% of the subscription money, all of the ad money, and have no printing/postage costs?

        Because Apple has shown they're willing to completely lock down their platform to restrict user freedom. Which is exactly what the publishers want - their ebooks and magazines and the hardware to be locked down with DRM to prevent users from doing whatever they want with the content they buy. In the publishers' minds, DRM is a requirement. Android platforms

      • by dreamt (14798)

        Okay, but why not just subscribe directly from the publisher then -- it says right in the summary -- the publisher gets 100% if they bring in the subscription. Not that I think that Apple's model is great, but they only get money if they bring in the revenue.

        • "Okay, but why not just subscribe directly from the publisher then"

          1) Apple already has iPhone user's credit cards on iTunes, so it's easy as one click. Why go to the trouble of re-entering your credit card on an outside Website? Even try that on an iPhone? 2) Apple, unlike publishers and "What's Privacy?" Google, will stubbornly protect users' data and will not give it to publishers (who are fuming over it) unless subscribers affirmatively opt-in.
    • by Albanach (527650) on Tuesday February 15, 2011 @03:51PM (#35213840) Homepage

      A magazine has much better control of their costs as they are typically being distributed by the publisher directly.

      This move by Apple is intended to punish Apple's competitors, that's other distributors and in particular Amazon. There's no way Amazon can afford to give Apple a 30% cut of sales, since their margin is significantly lower than that.

      Other subscription services could also suffer. Will this extend to Pandora/Spotify etc? Again there's no way they could afford to give apple 1/3 of their subscription fee as their margin is going to be lower than that.

      Apple really want content producers to make direct deals with them, cutting out the middlemen that are making money on Apple's platform. Cutting competition lets them keep prices, margins and profits high.

      • by hairyfeet (841228)

        So how long before someone hits them with anti-trust? When it comes to content distribution whether the fanboys want to admit it or not Apple pretty much owns the market, with iTunes scoring so far above everyone else they may as well not be in the game. Antitrust doesn't say you have to be a monopoly, just that you have to be able to have significant effect or control of the market, which it would be hard to argue that with the success of the iDevices that Apple isn't king of portable media.

        So it looks l

      • I'm not sure how big a deal this will be for Amazon. It doesn't apply to books sales, since they aren't subscriptions. I know that Amazon offers magazine and newspaper subscriptions, but the Kindle isn't really all that great for mags and newspapers. The slow display and the lack of touch interface are fine for books, but not so good for media where you are jumping from story to story. So the iPad could bring in Amazon subscription purchases that they wouldn't otherwise get at all, in which case the 30% tax

    • by ByOhTek (1181381)

      That only makes sense if you assume the people who subscribe via the application, would not have subscribed otherwise. If you don't make that assumption then you notice, there is the possibility of losing money.

      Ex:
      User 1 - I like newspaper X, I'll see if they have it available on my iDevice.
      User 2- Oh, look, newspaper X has an app on the app store, why not get it?

      This costs newspaper X money in the case of User 1, and increases profit in the case of User 2. Now companies have to decide - is

    • You probably think the cost of books is all in the paper and delivery too. Losing 30% of the top line may well be more than the cost of bulk publication and distribution. You still have to pay for content and editing and "pre-press" for the digital edition could well be more expensive in terms of labor cost. Further, you assume that advertisers will pay the same (or better) to be in this digital edition. You have nothing to base that on and if recent trends in demand for subscription based media on th
  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Tuesday February 15, 2011 @03:26PM (#35213570) Journal
    Did they just wait around for Murdoch's The Daily experiment for this [slashdot.org]? Is this just round two of wait-for-third-parties-to-develop-apps-and-then-hold-them-ransom like with eBooks [slashdot.org]? What's next?

    If I were a mobile app developer I'd be asking myself right now if it's a smart idea to try to plan a viable business plan around iOS right now. Any good will you build by bringing people to iOS with your app is totally overlooked by Apple while any customers "they bring" to you runs a hefty 30% Apple tax.

    I think it's highway robbery but I'm okay with it because I didn't buy into that bullshit. I bought into Android and instead of lording my decision over everybody I'm just going to remind everyone that the long run has been predicted [slashdot.org] by many industries [yahoo.com]. Apple and Blackberry will remain as niche players but it's going to be an Android future. So go ahead and hold publisher's -- who already hemorrhage cash -- feet to the fire. It's just going to hasten your fall.

    Apple sits atop a crumbling marketshare (Schmidt claims 300,000 activations a day [nwsource.com]) and their response is to turn the screws on the third parties that set them apart from the competition? Doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me ...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by elrous0 (869638) *

      I'd *like* to believe that developers and publishers will stand up to Steve Jobs in the end. I really would. But years of Jobs acting more and more like an thuggish autocrat doesn't seem to have hurt his indie cache in the slightest. Pretentious college students still act like owning an Apple makes than freedom fighters. Most people still associate buying an Apple with sticking it to the man, somehow. And no one seems to care about all the heavy-handed shit that Apple has been doing behind the scenes.

      Years

      • by vadim_t (324782)

        Years after Bill Gates started doing charity work and Jobs started locking down all his new platforms, who is it that's still villainized on /. ? You don't see Steve Jobs as a Borg, do you?

        Jobs isn't exactly Borg though.

        How about Raven, the elitist asshole [penny-arcade.com] for the icon?

      • by aztektum (170569) on Tuesday February 15, 2011 @06:34PM (#35215606)

        I'm more OK with how Jobs acts than MS.

        Apple has real competition in Android, webOS maybe and diehard BB users will only switch when you pry it from their cold dead hands.

        The tight control Jobs likes to have over at Apple, for the most part, only impacts Apple users. Don't like it? Go elsewhere.

        OTOH, MS used its position to control, or attempt to anyway, the entire consumer computer industry and more. Don't like it? Well fuckin' tough.

        If you don't like the policies don't buy the phone. You have no room to complain if you haven't bought in. If you did buy in, well you did so of your own accord. Enjoy the Kool Aid.

    • This is another example of a slow series of changes over there. Is it time to regard Apple with contempt? Do they still "know what they are doing?" How much confidence has been lost over the last few quarters?

      Especially when you consider their plans for cloud computing and recent developments with their iOS restrictions and deployment of the App Store on X, It's hard to not see Apple's actions here as pushing toward that centralized, controlled future they chuckled at in that famous commercial of theirs.
    • by neoform (551705)

      If I were a mobile app developer I'd be asking myself right now if it's a smart idea to try to plan a viable business plan around iOS right now. [...] Apple and Blackberry will remain as niche players but it's going to be an Android future.

      I had an adroid as well as an iphone. I never bought any apps for the android. I've purchased more than 20 apps for the iphone.

      I'm a typical consumer in this sense, since the iphone appstore sells considerably more than google's app store...

      Android certainly sells more ph

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by node 3 (115640)

      "Crumbling market share"?

      Android is not going to ever be a coherent, lucrative market. Very few people buy an Android phone specifically for Android. They buy it because it's the best phone on their carrier (Verizon), or because it's the cheapest option that provides an app phone.

      That is not a good foundation upon which to build a thriving market.

      Apple, on the other hand, is making each and every decision which this in mind. And because they can exert greater control over their system than Google can over t

  • 30% forever? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jaymz666 (34050) on Tuesday February 15, 2011 @03:35PM (#35213652)

    Is that 30% for as long as they keep renewing or is it 30% for the initial term? How does one determine if it's a new subscriber?

    Also, charging the same price in and out of the apple verse could increase prices for all

    • by TheSpoom (715771)

      Also, charging the same price in and out of the apple verse could increase prices for all

      I think that's the point; it makes publishers consider the Apple tax as a business expense so they start accepting it as necessary.

    • by microbee (682094)

      Renewal goes through Apple too since Apple owns your information.

      I wonder how Amazon and Netflix would go about this.

    • by milkmage (795746)

      yes. you know.. every time I want to re-up for a magazine or whatever, I have to pay (again).. don't see why anything would change here.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday February 15, 2011 @03:45PM (#35213746) Journal
    Was anybody seriously expecting the app store not to degenerate into blatant rent seeking?

    The original deal, while compulsory(which is not a good sign) was a 30/70, where apple took 30 in exchange for hosting the thing, transaction handling, etc. The fact that that was the only deal in town was a bit skeezy; but it was certainly a boon for the indies who couldn't or didn't want to deal with logistics themselves.

    At this point, though, it's a pure money grab. Hey, Amazon, want to offer customers the ability to purchase ebooks(downloaded from your server, linked to their amazon accounts, through the kindle application)? 30% of that is ours, and you aren't allowed to charge a higher price in-app to make up for that. You don't like that? Well, it's a nice app you've got there. It'd be a pity if it were to suffer a cryptographic revocation accident, Capiche?
    • by Nerdfest (867930) on Tuesday February 15, 2011 @03:55PM (#35213890)
      This is the part that sucks. Their dickery doesn't bother me that much when only affects the garden-dwellers, but this has the potential to raise prices across the board. Part of the blame for that will go to publishers who will not let Apple eat 30% of their profits, but Apple is the root cause.
    • by milkmage (795746)

      blantant rent seeking?

      if you were to sell something on consignment, you'd have to pay the store a cut of the selling price.
      whats the difference here?

      • by Nerdfest (867930) on Tuesday February 15, 2011 @04:05PM (#35213980)
        The fact I can't charge less for it somewhere else? While not quite a monopoly, they're abusing their market position.
      • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday February 15, 2011 @04:09PM (#35214010) Journal
        Which is why I explicitly drew the contrast between the original "We host, we handle billing, we manage the storefront: 30%", which was skeezy because of its compulsoriness(no sideloading or competing stores allowed); but was a reasonably square deal, particularly for indies, and the "You Must give us 30% of the take from your own storefront if that storefront interacts in any way with one of the apps that we deign to tolerate" model...

        The former case is definitely command and control; no alternatives, cryptographically enforced fiat; but it was a deal: Apple provided hosting, billing, and storefront management in exchange for 30%.

        The latter case is pure rent-seeking: Even if you operate your own hosting, storefront, billing, etc.(as Amazon, say, does) it will no longer be allowed to let them access a web page and make a purchase. You will be required to offer it as an in-app purchase(30% cut to Apple) for the same price that you would offer it outside. That, is pure rent seeking. Perhaps your ISP should get a percentage of the online shopping you do? Heck, why doesn't Fedex get a cut of the value of the goods they ship?
    • by kherr (602366) <`kevin' `at' `puppethead.com'> on Tuesday February 15, 2011 @04:04PM (#35213976) Homepage

      Whether or not to play in Apple's iOS garden is a business decision companies like Amazon or B&N will have to make. There's no reason for them to offer iOS versions of the e-readers. Oh, except for the large customer base. If that customer base is big enough I'm sure Amazon and B&N and others will agree to Apple's rules. 70% revenue for a customer pool of millions of iPhone and iPad users is better than 100% revenue for zero of them.

      Apple is offering others the ability to take advantage of their platform. How many Nook books can you buy from B&N on the Kindle, or Apple iBooks on the Nook? None. Apple is creating a place where Amazon and B&N will be able to compete with iBooks on price using the same e-reader. Neither Amazon nor B&N open their gardens to competitors.

      • And this why Android will eventually displace IOS as the mobile operating system of choice, those vendors who choose to sell only for Android will be at least 30% less expensive.
        • by pknoll (215959)

          And this why Android will eventually displace IOS as the mobile operating system of choice, those vendors who choose to sell only for Android will be at least 30% less expensive.

          I doubt that. Do you actually think that if Amazon sold a book on the iPhone for $10, they'd sell the same book on Android for $7? Why would they give you the three bucks? They'll sell it for the same price on ALL platforms and just keep the extra they make from non-iOS sales.

          • No, Amazon won't sell it for 30% less on Android (that would probably violate Apple's rules anyway), but someone else will. However, if someone with deep pockets (say, perhaps Walmart) decided to start up a competitor to Amazon and came out with their own e-reader software, they might come out with it only for Android. This hypothetical company could sell their e-books for 20% less than Amazon and make more profit. How long do you think it would take for everybody using an Android as an e-book reader to sw
        • by rainer_d (115765)

          And this why Android will eventually displace IOS as the mobile operating system of choice, those vendors who choose to sell only for Android will be at least 30% less expensive.

          Just like PC market-share is increasing every year, because PCs are at least 30% cheaper than Macs? ;-) I don't own an iPad and buying an eBook for my iPhone never seemed too attractive. Is there actually an iBookstore equivalent on Android? I think "mobile operating system of choice" may be misleading. Apple will simply continue to siphon-off the top-profits from the market and leave the rest to whomever wants to fight for it.

          • Sorry, you are comparing to the wrong point in the history of PCs. What I am describing is exactly how the Macintosh computer was perceived back in the day. It is also what Windows did to the MacOs when it came out.
      • by 2short (466733)

        "Neither Amazon nor B&N open their gardens to competitors."

        But Android does, and Windows does. Yes, Apple is not the only company with a more locked down, rent-seeking model than fracking Microsoft, but I'm not sure why I'm supposed to like it any better rather than just hating them too.

        When I pay money for products or services, I want to be treated like I'm the customer, not like I'm the product to be captured and used as leverage. If Apple is deriving profit by withholding access to me from people I

      • by jpmorgan (517966) on Tuesday February 15, 2011 @04:55PM (#35214534) Homepage

        70% revenue for a customer pool of millions of iPhone and iPad users is better than 100% revenue for zero of them.

        It's not when you only have a 5% profit margin. When you're losing money on every unit sold, you can't "make it up in volume."

    • by alen (225700)

      what probably happened is that too many apps became free and paid for by admob/iAD to the developer. the original prices on the app store were pretty high and fell pretty fast

    • by node 3 (115640)

      Apple created a lucrative market. They are charging 30% for access to that. Apps can still sell content outside of the app, but the fact is that people will vastly prefer in-app purchasing. That should be proof that it's worth the "tax".

      Stores pay to be in a shopping mall. Why do they do that when they could just open their own store on their own property? Because the mall brings customers that would otherwise not stop by.

    • by tgibbs (83782)

      Hey, Amazon, want to offer customers the ability to purchase ebooks(downloaded from your server, linked to their amazon accounts, through the kindle application)? 30% of that is ours, and you aren't allowed to charge a higher price in-app to make up for that.

      Except that Amazon is not a subscription service, so it hardly even seems to apply.
      Even if it did, is Amazon really going to get new customers through Apple, even if the Amazon app offered the ability to sign up via the Amazon app?

  • After all, he only asks that you donate 30% of your income.

    This tithe is now mandatory however, and rather than costing your soul for refusal, it will only cost you your market presence.

  • I subscribe to about three magazines on the iPad. The big problem I have is that that downloads do not happen in the background, and downloads are very slow. If Apple serves the content, and as a result the speed increases and download can happen in the background, this will be a good thing. Right now publishers servers are pretty useless. If Apple serves content, it should be worth the price to publishers. If publishers have to serve content, then i agree that Apple is charges excessive amounts.

    Even

    • by gstoddart (321705)

      Even so, one issue that annoys me will still remain. On the iPad ATT plan, we are paying twice for content when downloaded through ATT.

      So, use the WiFi for those kind of transfers.

  • Apple takes a 30% cut of charitable donations made through an app. Disaster relief, feed the hungry, all of it. Everybody pays. In an era where credit card processors are getting hit by regulators (correctly!) for charging 2-4% transaction fees, Apple says it's 30% or nothing.

    You'd think the phones were free.

    I welcome the mass exodus of developers from iOS to alternative platforms, and then I welcome the later transition to HTML5 instead of "apps" to deliver what should have been web pages anyway.

    Reference:

  • After all these years, Apple is still as capable of cutting its own throat like it was in the 80s. Oh the nostalgia.

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