Apple flips its way into the news cycle

apple newsWith Apple News arriving on Australian iPhones in the latest software update Simon Canning casts an eye over the new service, and what it means for local publishers. 

The arrival of Apple News today, with the support of News, Fairfax, Seven West and a bevy of local and international publishers, heralds the end of a very un-Apple-like way of delivering content.

While supporters of the new news aggregation service have likened it to Apple giving news the iTunes treatment, the experience owes much to the Silicon Valley upstart Flipboard which turned news aggregation into a flowing, flipping magazine-like experience tailor-made for emerging platforms.

Flipboard offered an intuitive reading experience which was easy to navigate, but it relied on users building their own mousetrap, choosing social media and mainstream media feeds to tap into while Flipboard offered occasional content deals with publishers and recommendations based on interests and locality.

Apple News brands

Some of the news brands on the app

Apple has flipped the model (excuse the pun) on its head, using its considerable heft to convince publishers directly to deliver content on the platform with the lure of ad revenue.

For many, it is a welcome departure from the clunky, siloed News Stand that forced readers to download and navigate through multiple apps if they wanted to deal with more than a single news source outside a web-based environment.

For consumers, it is the seamless aggregating app they have been looking for where news feeds can be easily mixed and matched.

The interface is simple, with five ways for users to aggregate and discover content under the banners of For You, Favourites, Explore, Search and Save.

The Apple banners allow for advertising to be inserted – The Iconic and Australia Post were quick off the mark with placements today – while the branded news feeds from publishers appear ad-free for the moment with Apple insisting advertising is not the main game here.the iconic apple news

Under Apple’s terms publishers will earn 100 per cent of the revenue from ads they sell, while Apple will take its traditional 30 per cent cut for ads sold through iAds.

News has launched on the app with 15 feeds under its metro mastheads and magazines including The Daily Telegraph and The Herald Sun.

daily telegraph apple newsThe Australian, restricted by its position behind the digital paywall, offers up its Life section for free.

Fairfax has launched The Age and SMH while the full list of mastheads and publishers runs wide and deep, from The New York Times to Slate and Red Bull.

Seven West Media has also moved to bring its stable of mastheads on board with InStyle, Girlfriend and Bride to Be the first to be launched.

Apple has promised an ecosystem that allows publishers the freedom to show off the quality of their content across platforms.

For many the lure of a faster path to audiences and the chance to keep the revenue they create themselves may be enough, but the model still leaves questions about where paywalls fit in and the reliance on Apple.

Consumers and advertisers will be the arbiters.

  • Simon Canning is a freelance journalist

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