Apple’s news subscription service doesn’t have a lot of news

During his presentation on Monday, Apple CEO Tim Cook introduced the company's news subscription service by talking about the joy of being in front of a newsstand. "I love the feeling of being in the newsstand," he said. "With all those beautiful and provocative magazines that cover so many topics." The goal of the new Apple News Plus service, Cook said, would be to bring that feeling to Apple's ecosystem.

But if Apple News is supposed to do it? Being the digital equivalent of a newsstand, one important piece is still missing: newspapers. Apple News Plus includes access to more than 300 journals, from high-level journalism such as The New Yorker to the mass market celebrity fair like People . But the service could only list three main newspapers: The Wall Street Journal Los Angeles Times and Toronto Star . It's a strange weak point in the service, and one that could seriously jeopardize Cook's goal of building an all-in-one location to read news.

If we look at the origins of the project, it is not surprising that the service deviates so much towards periodicals. Apple News Plus inherits most of its content from the Texture application, known as "Netflix of magazine," which Apple acquired this time last year. Apple seems to have worked hard in the year since then to improve Texture's offer, focusing more on individual items, making recommendations and adding more magazine titles.

When it comes to mediation agreements for news content after the acquisition, Apple has not gone much further. Apple signed several digital publications, including The Cut Vulture and a printed Vox called The Highlight ] (Disclosure: Vox and The Verge share the same parent company). Their lack of paid news services is also mitigated by the fact that a lot of websites and newspapers are available for free, even many paid publications still send a small amount of content to Apple News.

But major national newspapers like The New York Times and The Washington Post chose not to join Apple's subscription service and offer full access to their stories. That is probable because it is not necessary. These documents have seen an increase in subscribers in recent years: the Times recently reached 3 million digital-only subscriptions, the Post says that their subscriptions tripled in size for two years , making them less depends on a third-party aggregator that is willing to offer you only part of a fraction of your usual fees. (The Times makes a small number of articles available for free through Apple News; Post offers none.)

Apple also offered some deficient terms for the papers: it is said that Apple takes about half the rate of $ 10 per month from the news service , leaving only $ 5 per month for each subscriber to divide between the papers and magazines that subscribers read. It's a tough deal: Apple only takes 30 percent of the App Store's sales, and many already consider it too high, especially for documents that are already finding paid subscribers on their own.

That said, you do not know how many Other publishers were even offered the opportunity to reject a place in the Apple service. The local news is fighting; A recent study found that almost one in five local newspapers has disappeared in the last 15 years. And papers with smaller names than the Times probably do not have the weight to attract multi-million dollar subscription numbers on their own. Even Gannett, the owner of USA Today and several dozens of local newspapers, only has half a million digital subscribers. That could make Apple's terms more attractive. The death of local newspapers, and the role that technology has played, has reached the point where both Google and Facebook are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to support them, since their products are better when they have access to more quality. stories to link to.

For the documents that join Apple, they get the benefit of reaching readers who would not otherwise have found their stories. And it is very likely that there are many readers: the application is integrated in all the iPhone, iPad and Mac, and is opened by 85 million people every month. Converting even a percentage of those people into subscribers means giving access to publications to hundreds of thousands of readers that they did not previously have. That potential was apparently what led to the Journal on board. You are likely to find new readers without losing people who would pay for a subscription anyway, which allows them to read everything in the newspaper.

. That is the tone that finally got journal publishers to participate as well. According to Recode Texture has always been paying magazine publishers about half the subscription revenue, giving them the same terms that newspapers face. The point of sale was simply that they would have access to many more paying readers. (The main publishers were also originally co-owners of Texture, they received a smaller cut until Apple took over).

Both magazines and newspapers can also display ads within Apple News Plus. For newspapers, those are similar to the banner ads that are seen on their websites. For magazines, the ads are already printed on their pages, which potentially makes those ads even more valuable. If you were ever sent a magazine long after you stopped paying it, you probably know that sometimes a publisher would rather lose their money to lose it entirely as a reader.

Apple almost seems resigned, for now, not having newspapers. He framed the introduction of Apple News Plus in magazines and only briefly mentioned the news sources at the end of his presentation. And given the huge amount of news available for free that Apple may include, you may not be so concerned about making News Plus, a misnomer, clearly, an all-encompassing news source.

But if Apple really wants to Rebuild the newsstand, it has work to do. As Google and Facebook investments demonstrate, a news product is as good as the stories that appear. There is already a lot of incredible journalism available through Apple News and News Plus. But for now, Apple has yet to break some of the most important paywalls in the business, and that could leave readers wanting more.

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