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What Apple News means to publishers, advertisers and you

Matt Kapko | June 11, 2015
Apple is taking a fresh stab at content curation and aggregation with a native mobile app that it will release as part of iOS 9 this fall. The Apple News app will combine and curate articles from more than 50 publications at launch, and it is sure to create another rift between those who create online media, advertisers and the many companies that want to deliver it to online readers.

In other words, there are many players in this game. "It's far from clear that it's a straight-up fight between Apple and Google," says Dan Cryan, research director of media and content, IHS. "This does not look like it's going to turn into a two-horse race immediately."

Impact of Apple News on social media, publishing companies

Social networks constantly strive to inspire users to spend more time on their sites and within their apps, which helps explains these new initiatives underway at Facebook (Instant Articles) and Snapchat (Discover). However, the right user interface will be key if these companies are to succeed in the world of news and information, Cryan says. It's hard to imagine today's teenagers going to Snapchat for the latest news or features from CNN, but the ephemeral messaging platform and venerable cable news network are still trying to put news content in front of these sought-after users. 

If the wider, and less restricted, digital outlets become the distribution channels of choice for media, particularly on mobile devices, it's unclear whether or not branded news apps have the staying power to maintain the audiences they have today. Apple's Newsstand certainly didn't evolve into the subscription-generating juggernaut publishers hoped it would, and many are still experimenting with business models that have yet to deliver a sustainable digital strategy.

Mobile advertising simply doesn't provide enough revenue to support the business of journalism, and neither do subscriptions in most cases. With Apple News, the company could turn the tables for many large publishers if it can attract enough readers to the work that costs them so much to produce, regardless of the medium. Apple says it will allow publishers to keep all of the revenue from ads they sell and place in the articles in its News app. Or media companies can let Apple fill remnant ad inventory and then take 70 percent of the revenue generated by the company's iAd platform.

"I don't think there's anything in there that creates barriers to entry," says John Fletcher, senior research analyst at SNL Kagan. Apple is taking an interesting and fresh approach in aggregating and curating so much content from high-quality news sources in a single app, according to Fletcher, who says Apple's move is timely because more and more users are currently coalescing around apps such as Twitter, Circa News and Flipboard to get their news and information in a more personal environment, he says.

"There's room for everybody but I think the audience is going to pick the winners," says Fletcher. "I don't know that people go onto a social network to get updated with news items, with the exception of Twitter," Fletcher says. Then again, he suggests that Google and Apple don't have much of a reputation for news either, and that leaves an open path for other entrants to create compelling services.

 

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