Apple ramps up news content with Texture acquisition
- Apple plans to buy Next Issue Media's digital magazine subscription service Texture that bundles together about 200 subscriptions into one monthly service, according to an announcement by the company. The iPhone maker seeks to grow its services business, which includes Apple Music, the App Store and Apple Pay, to more than $40 billion by 2020 from about $30 billion last year. Apple didn't disclose terms of the deal.
- Condé Nast, Meredith, Hearst, Rogers Communications and private-equity investor KKR own Next Issue Media and Texture, which was started as a way to help the magazine industry transition from print to online media. Apple collects a 15% cut of subscription services from publishers and other content providers when consumers pay for that access from the App Store, per The Wall Street Journal.
- Texture's $10 monthly fee gives subscribers access to magazines such as Vanity Fair, Good Housekeeping, Time, Sports Illustrated and National Geographic. Meanwhile, Apple launched Apple News in 2015 to aggregate and provide news stories to iPhone and iPad users.
By buying "the Netflix of magazines," as Texture has been dubbed for offering access to a wide variety of content for a flat monthly fee, Apple can build out Apple News with more content as the tech giant seeks to aggressively expand its services business and ramp up revenue in the next few years. Apple's news aggregation service has become an important source of readership for some publishers. Apple News can deliver a jump in traffic to publishers whose articles are featured in Spotlight or Top Stories or are the subject of push alerts which the app lets publishers send to people who follow that news outlet, The Information reported. Apple News has generated half of Vox.com’s daily traffic at times, a person familiar with Vox's numbers told the news outlet.
While the magazine industry has sought ways to transition from print to online, it's been caught between declining print revenue and competing with tech giants for digital ad dollars. Google and Facebook last year accounted for more than 63% of U.S. digital ad spending, eMarketer reported, while traditional publishers and digital media startups like BuzzFeed and Vox have cut staff or missed sales targets.
It appears that Apple has been eyeing Texture for some time. In 2016, the App Store editorial team chose Texture for the annual Best Of selections that celebrate the most innovative apps and games for iOS users. As social media platforms like Facebook, Google’s YouTube and Twitter face criticism for spreading fake news and propaganda created by foreign governments, Apple wants to play up Apple News as a trusted source of information that's more transparent to readers with an editorial team to curate content. While human editors aren't immune from biases, the idea is that trained editors are better at curating content than artificial intelligence technology that’s supposed to screen out hoaxes or fabrications.