Following Apple’s News App

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African Business complete archive from 1982 (375 issues).

In the light of Apple’s announcement of a new News app, and the soon to be disappeared iTunes Newsstand, what are newspaper and magazine publishers going to make of Apple’s platform?

Obviously we should pay attention. But the next few steps are not crystal clear. Partly because the Apple News app has not yet been released (it is coming this Autumn) but partly because there may yet be another shoe to drop. In fact it is highly likely that there will be another shoe dropping. Assuming that Apple News is quite a big success — then Apple would be very likely to extend the scope of the new format that is being introduced for the system. Apple News Format will surely be able to power paid for magazine apps, and we haven’t been told anything about that yet.

Speculating about what Apple might do next, is in this case rather futile, because it will very much depend on how the market reacts to the launch and extended use of the News app. By the end of the year we might have a good feel for that. But there are still some lessons to be drawn.

First and foremost the existing apps in Newsstand still work, and they will shortly be available directly from the iTunes app store without being shepherded into their own corner of the e-commerce system. For the last year Newsstand has looked and felt curiously disconnected from the rest of the app experience. So doing without Newsstand sounds promising for publishers that already have apps for iOS. For the moment, just keep on steaming.

Will the new Apple News Format and the RSS-style magazine/news experiences that it produces be the only way of delivering newspaper and magazine content? Not at all:

  1. The Apple News Format is expected to be proprietary and may not for this reason be an ideal choice for technical, medical, scientific and scholarly publications. If it really turns out to be like Flipboard, it may be better for flipping through illustrations taken from newspapers and magazines than for long form reading.
  2. Many magazines and some newspapers have a specific print format that is greatly appreciated by their audience. There will be a case for maintaining loyal subscribers who like the way ‘the paper has always been’.
  3. Some magazines lucky have an archive of back issues which may be as valuable to the audience and the community served by the magazine, as the ‘weekly’ or ‘monthly’ news element. Content-rich magazines should exploit their archive — which may have great appeal to universities and  corporate libraries. Exact Editions can help publishers make complete archives and we deliver institutional sales to corporates and universities. Interested in making your magazine archive? Here is a guide to the next step.
  4. There are readers on other platforms than iOS: clearly Android is an important market, but the web also is a valuable section of the overall digital magazine market.
  5. Give your print readers a clear path to digital subscriptions. If the magazine is being produced for a print audience, this audience is gradually going to transfer its reading habits to digital formats, and publishers should  support this transition with their digital apps, ideally supplied to subscribers gratis (to keep them onside), but also to demonstrate the value in the archive (see 3 above)

Magazines and newspapers that transition to a substantial digital audience will do so by growing all their available sales channels as tenaciously as they can. This means catching your digital readers as soon as possible and providing them with the best available solutions, whether they be reading on the web, on iOS devices or on Android.

We are looking forward to seeing how Apple’s News app works, and about one thing we are very confident at Exact Editions: magazines with rich content and valuable back issues really need to capture the quality in their archives. This rich inheritance becomes much more attractive when it can be fully accessed and searched on an iPad or a similar tablet device. We have just completed a full archive for the wonderful World of Fine Wine. No wine lover should be without this fine resource which contains some of the best wine writing over a wide field.

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Apple’s new News app

One of the high points of Mondays’ WWDC was the first glimpse of Apple’s new app for iOS. News which Apple see as being one of the fundamental experiences to living on a mobile device

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Susan Prescott presenting News at WWDC 2015

News is not yet released, but from first impressions it looks very similar in concept to Flipboard. Flipboard was launched back in 2010, for the iPad, and has attracted much admiration for presenting magazine-type content in a rich and fluid way on iOS devices and now for Android. But the business model for this ambitious company has always been sketchy at best. There has been talk of subscriptions and some exploratory efforts to generate high quality advertising, but the app and the company has not reached take-off point. The Apple announcement may be a nail in the coffin for Flipboard.

The business model for Apple’s News is not so clear, and my initial reaction was to wonder why Apple would want to push a business proposition that seemed to be stalling at the starting gate with Flipboard? But from the preliminary announcement it appears that the News app will work for publishers in much the same way as Facebook’s recent announcement for Instant Articles. The app will be ad-supported and the ‘offer’ to the publishers looks just like Facebook’s “generous” proposal for Instant Articles: 100% of the revenue to the publisher if they source the ad, and 70% if they use the on-platform ad solution. This will work quite nicely for publishers if they can set up similar workflow streams for Facebook and Apple’s News app. But the question will be whether there is really sufficient volume in these channels to suit mainstream publishers such as Conde Nast and the New York Times. These additional advertising deals may be more attractive to mainstream bloggers (Daring Fireball was mentioned directly by Susan Prescott in her presentation).

Facebook’s project is far too new to be a useful benchmark, and the News app has not been launched. Both Apple and Facebook may find that traditional publishers are quite slow to adopt the format toolset that will be needed to get the best designed experiences onto the devices. Apple have announced an Apple News Format — but big as Apple are, another proprietary content format looks like a possible dead end (I did not write “Flash”at that point, but it crossed my mind).

We shall see how News works out when iOS 9 is launched in the Autumn. If it goes really well, my guess is that it will be a powerful competitor to Google News. I use Google News a lot and it is a great service, but it does now feel a tad tired and ‘old school;. Too flat and too linky — without the flexibility and visual pazazz that we now expect in the best apps. From the Apple point of view, trumping Google News makes a lot of sense (much of this WWDC was about besting Google). For as Federighi said in his introductory remarks, a good display of the changing news is one of the “fundamental experiences to living on a mobile device”. I like his choice of preposition.

Apple also announced that its iOS Newsstand will shortly drop from sight.Some newspaper and magazine publishers have already been dropping their apps directly into the main app store, not wishing to be coralled in a section that has been neglected since iOS 7.  In our next blog we will take a look at how this will work for magazines that want to sell subscriptions on iOS devices.

New Internationalist ByPlace app

A new, ByPlace app for New Internationalist is now available in the Apple Newsstand.

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Perfect for those on the move, this new app has all the usual Exact Editions features: in-depth search tool, social-media sharing and offline bookmarked content. Our ByPlace functionality means that the app is totally free in select locations – so look out for promotions!

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To subscribe, follow this link, or search ‘New Internationalist ByPlace’ in the App Store.

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The Pretty Nostalgic Compendium and Vintagexplorer join Exact Editions

Exact Editions are delighted to reveal two new additions to the webstore and iTunes, The Pretty Nostalgic Compendium and Vintagexplorer.

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The Pretty Nostalgic Compendium is a beautifully designed and illustrated publication which focuses on lifestyle, taking inspiration from the past to inform a sustainable way of living. Articles cover interiors, cooking, crafts and curiosities, demonstrating extensive social and domestic history research.

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Vintagexplorer is another high-quality magazine featuring stunning photography and with a focus on design which “stands the test of time”. It covers all the biggest vintage events throughout the country and is published every two months.

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The resurgence in such titles shows a burgeoning interest in Vintage. Subscribers may also be interested in The Lady, Selvedge and The Green Parent. Head over to the Exact Editions webstore to explore more titles!

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Reform digital edition now available!

Reform Magazine is now available as an app and web edition through Exact Editions.

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Reform explores theology, ethics, personal spirituality and Christian perspectives on social and current affairs. It features writing from journalists, academics, politicians, campaigners, scientists and religious leaders.

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As well as high-profile interviews, in-depth features and book, music and film reviews, Reform carries letters and a regular light-hearted column.

The magazine is published 10 times a year by the United Reformed Church but has readers from all Christian denominations, as well as readers from other faiths and from no faith tradition.

Subscriptions are available in iTunes and the Exact Editions webstore.

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