Apple is expanding its service offerings and venturing further into the magazine publishing realm with its recent acquisition of the Texture virtual newsstand app. The purchase will allow Apple to offer users access to a large catalog of quality magazines for a monthly subscription fee.
Texture — formerly known as Next Issue — launched in 2010 as a joint venture among Condé Nast, Hearst, Meredith, News Corp., Rogers Communications, and Time Inc. Today, it includes a catalog of about 200 magazine titles for which users pay $9.99 per month for unlimited access, earning it the nickname, “the Netflix of magazine publishing.”
This is not Apple’s first foray into a magazine subscription service, however. The company’s “Newsstand” app never really caught on, so Apple rolled it into the Apple News app, which aggregates third-party news sources and has also struggled to achieve widespread popularity. In its next app combo, Apple will use an upgraded Apple News app to provide access to the new Texture service, which will include popular titles such as Forbes, Vanity Fair, Esquire, National Geographic, and Good Housekeeping. Apple will split subscription profits among itself and the publishers, although it has not disclosed how.
Fighting “fake news”
One of the drivers behind Apple’s Texture purchase is to provide the public with high-quality news from trusted sources in an effort to combat the proliferation of fake news via the internet and social media. Apple will vet all publishers whose content it allows into the Texture catalog as the company wants to brand itself as a trusted news source. But what could this mean for magazine publishers on and off the platform?
Texture and publishers
Apple is betting on the idea that apps are the method audiences will use to access magazine and news content. Although digital offers many perks, however, publishers have struggled with monetization models. Readers are used to getting such content for free, so subscription models have been challenges. Paywalls anger many readers, and reaping large profits from advertising requires publishers to highly target audiences and employ advanced tracking technologies.
Still, with its 4.8-out-of-5-stars rating from more than 20,000 user reviews, not only can publishers whose magazines Apple accepts into the Texture platform expect users to consider them trusted information sources but the app also promises to boost magazine reach and distribution. But both these advantages also come with drawbacks. Relying on an aggregator’s reach can have serious consequences should the aggregator change up its algorithms. And what happens if content is critical of the online giant or fails Apple quality standards in the first place? Will Apple kick these publishers off the platform?
If accepted, Texture can provide an added revenue stream for magazine publishers, but those considering the app will also be competing with other digital magazines. To keep your publication competitive on or off Texture:
- Make sure your publishing practices reinforce your status as a trusted source.
- Provide high-quality content targeted to your audience’s specific needs.
- Incorporate audio, video, and advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence and augmented reality to boost interactivity and engagement.
- Make sure your content is optimized for all devices readers are using to consume it.
- Provide easy-to-understand subscription services and excellent customer service.
Time will tell what Apple’s new Texture service will mean for the publishing industry and individual publishers. It could be a boon for publishers who provide trusted high-quality content. But that’s true whether you partner with Apple or not.