Apple: smiling at publishers, or coming for a bite?
News that Apple is apparently handing out squillions* to select publishers for content makes me remember the good old days when the phone firm lured many newspapers and magazines into its new Apple Newsstand service for its devices, at not-inconsiderable cost, with promises of premium placement within a dedicated app for readers on the iOS homescreen.
In charged many, including me, rubbing our hands in expectation after creating our own Newsstand-compliant apps, with the hope that such prime real estate on a phone or tablet in a default iOS Newsstand app would yield countless new subscribers and future loyal readers.
Apple, renowned then of course for its scrupulous attention to the detail of the user experience, cool rollnecks, and expiring powerpacks, was hailed as being uniquely appreciative of the reading experience and offering a brilliant new way for publishers who crafted their product in digital form a sleek new 21st Century route to growing revenues and readerships.
It was new dawn 2.0… the Thunderbolt cable of opportunities! Step back subscription people, the demand would blow your socks off!
Anyway, in short order Apple axed it in favour of their own News app, and err… that was that. Lasted a few short years and cost a fortune, and much like Facebook Instant Articles, and Google AMP, money spent by optimistic publishers to keep the platforms happy was seemingly money down the drain.
Now we are not suggesting that such a scenario could possibly unfold again, given that in this instance Apple are looking to buy the rights to content to train its own AI models for its future handsets - reacting (like the rest of the would-be AI giants) to the future reality that AI vs AI success will be decided by which has the best and most up-to-date data on what's happening in the world before plagiarising it.
(It also makes us think that Samsung, another handset manufacturer eager to toot the power of its new AI, will be obliged to do the same. So get dialling, rights bods.)
But, frenemies, enemies, and my frenemy's enemy and all that. Will an Apple deal come with strings attached? Is news of it carefully designed to create a FOMO among big media companies, and tempt them to grab the first knockdown offer? Will an offer today preclude a lawsuit tomorrow? Will Tesla make a wonky steering wheel and convince us it’s new? All this and more is to be discovered.
As ever, buyer beware, and remember, they're not in it to help us. On with the edition.
*Not that much.
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It's for the kids (for now)
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