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Apple's News app in iOS 9: All the news that fits, they print?

Glenn Fleishman | June 12, 2015
When Apple unveiled the News app in the WWDC keynote on Monday, my first reaction was glee. As a past participant in its Newsstand experiment, which is probably the best way to describe it, the News app had several characteristics that made it seem far superior for many purposes.

That is, no periodical or blogger is required to only publish in Apple News Format, which by early accounts is another text-based syndication variant, nor publish items exclusively to News. Rather, those who want a bigger audience will likely apply for (or be swept into) News.

Full-scale news apps will still be needed, as News has no subscriber login or in-app subscription purchases — as of yet. For publications that offer paid subscriptions, News is a leaky paywall, allowing access to a limited but tasty subset of content, which entices some readers to subscribe to the full hose available via native and web apps. The New York Times and the Economist have explicitly made that connection.

The best part of News is that it allows for a rich display of content to be discovered by readers who otherwise might not be able to find it. Modest blogs and small-scale publications could have some parity with larger organizations without the cost of creating an app or adopting a publishing platform. The iAds advertising platform could also bring ad revenue to sites that don't want to work with Google or that have meager results from Google or other programs.

By limiting the set of what can be read, News may draw a circle around its potential audience at the outset. For every site that someone cannot find and subscribe to, and every kind of content that's thinly represented in News, people wind up using a website, an app, or even an up-to-date RSS aggregator app.

Apple's biggest problem with News is that it may not be relevant to readers' interests. By favoring curation and discovery, Apple may recapitulate both push and portals. Neither path is a good one to take. Tear down the garden wall, and make it a push-you-pull-me service, and Apple might just fill an empty spot in readers' hearts.


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