The New York Times Pulls Out of Apple News
The New York Times has always been leery of Apple News, sharing only a handful of articles per day and not participating in the Apple News+ subscription service, but now the newspaper has withdrawn entirely. Nieman Lab’s Ken Doctor went digging to find out why. There are two related reasons: The New York Times wants to be less reliant on distribution platforms, and the COVID-19 crisis has driven record numbers of readers to the paper, making it easier to re-examine its relationships with the tech giants.
“This has been a moment where something like 250 million—somewhere between 250 and 300 million people—used The New York Times at the height of the COVID crisis,” New York Times COO Meredith Levien said. “Ultimately the thing we’re trying to do is play a bigger role in many more people’s lives. And I think with each passing year, we’re getting better and better at doing that ourselves,” she added.
In the end, it’s all about encouraging direct relationships with readers whenever possible, something that we at TidBITS have long focused on as well.
And in related news, Apple is shifting around its Arcade strategy and canceling ordered games presumably because its subscription numbers are below expectations.
Personally, I think it’s good news if Apple faces lots of headwind with services. For one, they’re just not good at it. But also, they have more than enough serious hardware and software challenges they should actually be focusing on. They don’t need distractions like services when several serious competitors are better at that. They should instead focus on the things they are good at. Services is definitely not that.
For quite some time now Services have been generating significantly more revenue and profits for Apple than Macs have. Here’s the results for Q2 2020, announced about a month ago:
By the logic you’re using, Mac models should be given the boot rather than any of the Services.
The Guardian pulled out of Apple News in 2017, only to return earlier this year:
And it does make a whole lot of sense for Apple to drop games that subscribers aren’t playing or abandoning early. Curation is one of the elements that distinguish Apple’s services from Facebook, Google, etc. Here’s the latest on the advertising boycott that recently hit Facebook:
No question, but I think it’s also safe to say that within the Services category, some make a LOT more money than others. The App Store and associated subscriptions have to be the lion’s share. Apple Pay and Apple Music are probably doing pretty well, along with iTunes content. iCloud storage revenues might decent too. But after that? Apple Books? Apple News+? Apple Arcade? Apple TV+? Hard to see them contributing too much at this point.
Here’s a nice overview from a year ago that predates the most recent additions.
That page also has a video with really good analysis by the Verge’s Dieter Bohn. He emphasizes that unless you’re an investor, there’s no reason to care what makes Apple money. “You just shouldn’t.” Exactly my POV.
As a customer I care about product quality. The Mac is great, but Apple Arcade or News just stink. Apple excels at the Mac so I want to see them focus on macOS and Mac hardware. By comparison they suck at services but fortunately for customers, Apple has many competitors in that area that are actually good at those services. So as a customer I want to see Apple focus on what they do well and improve that while not getting distracted by stuff they simply have never done really well and the market really has no need for them trying. Do I care if they make money with mediocre stuff? No. McD makes billions selling crummy burgers. As a burger eater do I care? Not the least.
In my woefully meager 401k savings, I have funds that include Apple stock. Aside from that, if Apple wasn’t profitable, the company wouldn’t exist. And I am also interested and involved with many social and political issues that don’t have a direct impact on my life.
I happen to care a lot about marketing and media, and Apple has been extremely successful in getting people to spend a lot of money on their hardware and digital Services. And Steve Jobs created Services to lure and lock people in to Apple hardware. And when Spotify quickly started doing major damage to iTunes sales, Apple paid $3 billion to buy the Beats subscription service. If it wasn’t for the other services they offer, including free productivity applications, Apple most probably never would have survived without Services.
Books are a service, but they are not a subscription service. Neither are Apple Pay and Credit Card. And eBook sales never took off across the board as they were expected too, probably as the result of the Supreme Court battle that Apple was dragged into by publishers. eBook sales were only 14.3% of total book sales revenue in 2019. Amazon’s market share is estimated to be about 67%, not counting self published books:
So it’s probably a small but profitable part of the revenue stream. Arcade, TV+ and News+ are brand new, and if I were Tim Cook I would have built up a better content roster before releasing them. They don’t need to make a lot of money yet, they just need to lure people into the Apple ecosystem and keep them locked in.
At the moment, Arcade, TV+ and News+ are still new products that need to evolve rapidly. I personally think they were released too soon. But along with other services, they are still good reasons that will help sell Macs, iPhones, iPads, AirPods and whatever else they have up their sleeves.
That’s a curious spin. I seem to recall that it was Apple who contacted and conspired with book publishers to get favorable “Most Favored Nation” pricing terms for Apple, which resulted in increased prices for eBooks for consumers. Apple acted like a monopolist (leveraging potential market power as the iPad was introduced to get favorable terms for the company in collusion with a majority of the publishing market) and was caught and punished for it. Apple was not dragged.
You’re right about this:
But when Apple and the publishers were forced to raise its prices for eBooks to parity with paper books, the eBook market began to decline. It was Amazon who dragged them into court. I’m one of the people who prefers paper books.
I mainly don’t use Apple News because it doesn’t have ad blocking, which I use with all my subscribed papers.
Amen. There are things like the Apple TV app on the Mac that are a hot mess. Besides it losing track of which episodes you’ve watched in “Up Next”, there is a serious problem they need to address about how to make movie and tv show purchases within the app. It was so easy when everything was in iTunes, now, not so much. Music purchases have remained easy to do on the Mac, but nothing to do with video is easy to do. What’s more is all seasons of a particular show are not even listed for sale in the Mac app, only “Season 1”. On the iPhone iTunes Store app, everything is listed. If they’re going to separate everything out like this on the Mac, please do it right and make it seamless and not frustrating!!
I hear you. The Apple TV app is indeed a hot mess. It’s buggy and confusing. It made an already not great situation really bad. Apple wants us to believe that iTunes is now only for music and Apple TV app is for video. Until you have a problem with a purchase and realize that unlike iOS there’s no Store App on macOS. So back to iTunes. But don’t try to use that store to purchase video content. You need to go back to the Apple TV app for that. And if you find buying episodes vs. seasons confusing, don’t worry, it’s really not you. It’s just a really bad app rushed out the door.
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