Content Aware media news: February 1, 2024

Published: 02 February 2024

Apple: enemy, frenemy, or ally?

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.

Beware going all-in on ChatGPT
Remember when Italy banned ChatGPT shortly after its launch? It was allowed to operate again in the country after some concessions, however Italy's data protection supremo has now raised the spectre of a fresh ban. It has informed owner OpenAI it is in breach of EU personal data laws and given it a month to respond, with the possibility of a large fine, ban, or enforced disclosure of tech and algorithms as part of a penalty. Other EU nations are also investigating.

Apple rides in to save the day
Apple may be a loser in the recent ruling which could see apps from outside its App Store allowed to be installed on its handsets, and with it the 30% revenue cut for subscriptions that some publishers regard as daylight robbery. But, as mentioned above, the phone firm is said to be putting publisher content at the forefront of its must-acquire strategy to keep its forthcoming AI enhancements fresh and educated. Got your slice of Apple yet?

Big Tech and AI in FTC sights
The FTC aren't worried about solving the issue of ownership of content - that's for other people to thrash out - but are convinced the ability for super-sized tech firms to crowd out any new rivals is worth the investigation.

SEO USA - a year in review
Who were the big winners and losers in SEO in 2023? SEO tools firm Sistrix releases its annual round up of the year just gone with a gargantuan look at who and why sites soared or plummeted in the US and other key markets.

No getting fat on cookies
Did you think Google's plan to usher in a new cookieless world would somehow see them less in control of the web's data than before? We should have known better. Its mooted solution - to the surprise of precisely no-one - sees them get MORE data, while the likes of website owners get even less.

Corbidge comments... on a new way of searching
New ways of search are heading towards us. One upstart forgoes the typical list of results and instead formulates instant webpages built up from multiple sources and references. Is it an opportunity for publishers, or a threat

A bigger shock than Hamilton to Ferrari
Bard has just overtaken ChatGPT-4.

Another day, another Google glitch
News sites are today, now, bearing the brunt of an ongoing glitch with Google site indexing, SEO hawks say. Engineers are on it, but sites report 6-hour delays or more in being crawled.

Spam, or just a load of old baloney?
The rise of spam sites and junk content on Google has become more noticeable in recent months. But, after one investigator's deep dive to see if it was really a new thing, the real issue might just be that there's simply too many results.

"Mr Zuckerberg, what the hell were you thinking?"
The most immediately pressing issue for various social platform leaders is an investigation into the harms social media does to kids. Wriggling to maintain market share for pure business reasons might see things like break-up plans delayed for years or shelved, but horror stories of the effect of social media on children is harder to slither away from.

It's for the kids (for now)
Connected to the furore is Instagram's plans to scan messages to kids. Of course, unsaid, that means it will have to be able to scan everyone's messages, and if it is 1 billion Instagrammers now, then the rest of the Meta group will surely follow - WhatsApp, Facebook, Messenger. "Encrypted" no more.