Apple launches News app, what does it mean for publishers?

Sarah Homewood
By Sarah Homewood | 9 June 2015

Apple has become the latest technology superpower to revamp its publishing offering with the brand launching News app, aggregating content from 20 different high-profile publishers.

Apple announced at its developer conference yesterday, the move overnight with the business saying the app will combine the visually rich layout of a magazine with the immediacy and customisation of digital media.

Companies on board include Condé Nast, ESPN, The New York Times, Hearst, Time Inc., CNN and Bloomberg.

“News seamlessly delivers the articles you want to read in a beautiful and uncluttered format, while respecting your privacy, because Apple doesn’t share your personal data,” Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of internet software and services said.

The app will be available with the next update of iOS and will allow publishers to use the tools of iOS to create articles that can include photos and galleries, audio, video, maps and rich interactions such as parallax and animation.

The move by Apple follows Facebook's dive into the same space. The social media giant announced last month that is has updated its web article format and has created Instant Articles, which it claims offers publishers fresh ways to publish and generate revenue.

Announcing the move Facebook said: “We designed Instant Articles to give publishers control over their stories, brand experience and monetisation opportunities. Publishers can sell ads in their articles and keep the revenue, or they can choose to use Facebook’s Audience Network to monetise unsold inventory. Publishers will also have the ability to track data and traffic through comScore and other analytics tools.”

The news comes as the Financial Times reports that Apple is planning to move away from the pricing formula that has defined the economics of digital media for a decade in a change that would see the 30% fee that media companies pay on subscriptions cut outright.

The iPhone maker is discussing new commercial terms with media companies, to alter the 70/30 “Apple tax” pioneered by Steve Jobs when its late founder launched the iTunes music store in 2003.

Changing Apple’s terms of trade could improve the economics of online content businesses and reassure regulators that the company is not abusing its position as gatekeeper to one of the most lucrative digital marketplaces.

News Corp and Fairfax declined to comment.

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