Time Inc., Apple to offer free iPad downloads to print magazine subscribers

After months of speculation, Time Inc. has finally inked a deal with Apple that will allow print magazine subscribers to access the company's iPad editions for free. Beginning this week, subscribers to print versions of Sports Illustrated, Fortune, and Time will be able to download the iPad counterparts at no cost, directly within the magazines' apps. Today's deal comes just a few months after the company struck a similar arrangement with HP, but iPad users, unlike TouchPad readers, still won't be able to purchase exclusively digital subscriptions to Time Inc.'s stable of publications. It's no secret that Time Inc. wants to incorporate digital subscriptions to its iPad model, but negotiations have hit some roadblocks, largely thanks to disputes over how Apple shares subscriber data. Publishers say they need that data to apply the TV Everywhere model to magazines, but Apple thinks subscriber information should only be shared on an opt-in basis. We don't really expect Apple to budge any time soon, but execs at Time Inc. seem optimistic, telling the Wall StreetJournal that today's deal proves that the two parties are "moving closer" on the issue -- apparently not close enough, however, for Apple to comment.