It has been quite a two month run for Apple News. The app has already gained increasing traction and popularity since Apple made several upgrades in year two. I can see this from direct experience, as iPad Insight routinely sees a higher number of views on Apple News than we do from the web or Flipboard. And as we have gained followers, those numbers have progressively increased. It is a very good publishing platform with a lot of forward momentum right now.
While Apple News was already looking good, changes to make it far more powerful and wide-reaching have been publicly visible since March. First off, Apple acquired the digital subscription magazine service Texture. While Apple has had only a few official words about the acquisition, it is pretty clear what the intent is. The only questions are how Apple will choose to integrate Texture into or alongside of Apple News, what it will cost, and when we will eventually see it.
In mid-April, reports surfaced that Apple is planning a subscription news service based on Texture. No big surprises here, especially the fact that it was old reliable Mark Gurman who first reported the news. We did also find out that Apple cut around 20 employees after the acquisition, which isn’t all that surprising, either. Still, the fact that we are getting this information on Apple’s intentions for Texture and Apple News from someone as reliable as Gurman means there is likely something to it.
Just last week there were fresh reports that Apple’s ambitions for News and original content in general may go beyond just their purchase of Texture. According to the Guardian, they are looking at purchasing all or part of struggling magazine publisher Condé Nast. Their CEO has said that the company isn’t for sale, but with their financial problems, which are widely shared throughout the print magazine industry, that may not matter. If Apple really wants to buy them, they will be able to. The real question is whether there is anything to this rumor. If nothing else, it shows Apple’s overall aggressiveness when it comes to original media content and news.
Just this week, we learned that Apple is pulling Texture’s Windows app at the end of next month. This is interesting, as we don’t have a clear picture of how Apple will approach cross-platform support for Apple News and Texture in the future. Right now, Apple News is an Apple exclusive, as it has been from the start. That is unlikely to change. However, Apple Music has an Android app and iCloud.com is available to all Windows users, so Apple has never really had a consistent approach to this.
One thing to note is that the Windows Store app hadn’t been updated in a while and has been racking up negative reviews there. Apple may released an improved version of the app, or they may elect to make Texture content web-accessible. Or they may pull the Android app and lock the service down tight. Who knows at the moment, but Apple’s next move should give us solid insight into their future intentions.
Yesterday, Digiday gave us another bit of news about Apple’s content ambitions. BuzzFeed News chose to premiere a documentary called “Future History: 1968” on Apple News, rather than use the more common online platforms, such as YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. They even bypassed their own mobile app as part of the deal. Apple paid BuzzFeed for the rights to early access, and also offered BuzzFeed a cut of the pre-roll ad revenue. Apple News showed the first three episodes of the series and racked up “several hundreds of thousands” of views, according to BuzzFeed. In comparison, the same episodes only got 110,000 across YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter since they hit there on April 28. This shows Apple being aggressive in pursuing content makers for premiere access. This should only become more and more common.
How will Apple bring all of this together? It’s really too early to say that. I think it is clear that Apple has grand ambitions to offer wide-ranging original content as part of its push into Services. This will include video, news, and music-focused content across multiple apps and subscriptions. How Apple will end up delivering this content and just how far they intend to push into this territory is still to be determined. However, I am sure we will know more a month from now, as some of this sure to be addressed, at least in a preliminary way, during the WWDC Keynote. Until then, we can be sure that if nothing else, Apple means business when it comes to Apple News and is willing to throw its weight and its money behind expanding it.