Apple’s ostensible pivot from hardware to services last week and the drive to sign on participants from across the creative industry has rattled many in that industry – none more so, it seems, than publishers and journalists.
After years of experimenting with lopsided relationships with Big Tech – think Google’s AMP and Facebook’s Instant Articles – many traditional big media outlets had now become reluctant to jump onboard when Apple announced their scheme, Apple News+.
The gist of is to take original media-produced content and distribute it to Apple devices now found in “a billion pockets, y’all” – as one of the Apple event’s many celebrity guests, Oprah, put it pithily.
And Apple will take a reported 50 percent cut, while never sharing its data on users with content creators and publishers.
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The gist of the reluctance on the part of the media? Their growing unwillingness to relinquish control over content and revenue streams, and over their “relationship with the customer.”
That’s according to Frederic Filloux’s Monday Note article, where he breaks down the numbers to specify that the US magazine sector lost about 40 percent in revenue over the last ten years – currently standing at $27 billion – and that by joining Apple News+ this industry would ultimately stand to shed 50 percent of its current revenue per reader.
And while Apple said the content produced by hundreds of newspapers and magazines who had joined Apple News+ would be available to subscribers for $10 a month – big players like the Washington Post and the New York Times are absent from the list.
But the Wall Street Journal is there, reportedly convinced that its deal with Apple would “drive scale among new readers.” In essence, the publication seems convinced that it take a risk, play the game, and win.
The Verge is reporting that there’s a twist to WSJ’s seemingly optimistic take on Apple’s service: the WSJ subscribers via the new Apple News+ would have access to “a curated collection of general interest news” with much less emphasis on business stories – i.e., “they will see a cordoned-off Journal zone of commodity general-interest news, and the publisher seems to expect that most users won’t seek much beyond that.”
Meanwhile, existing direct subscribers will get what they come to the WSJ for: “Better service and potentially more business news,” WSJ Publisher William Lewis has been quoted as saying.