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.

FineWine