A news subscription for your iPhone? Apple may launch one by 2019: report

April 18, 2018 by Seung Lee, The Mercury News
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Last month, Apple announced it acquired the digital magazine distributor Texture as an entry to the journalism world. Now, it plans to use its platform to launch a premium news subscription by 2019.

Apple plans to integrate Texture's platform—which catalogued more than 200 magazines and curated them based on the user's interests for a $9.99-a-month subscription—into Apple News to develop the news subscription platform, Bloomberg reported Tuesday. After cutting 20 Texture employees immediately after the acquisition, Apple absorbed Texture's headcount into Apple News' team.

The updated Apple News app, with a subscription offering, plans to launch within the next year, according to Bloomberg. A sliver of the yet-unknown cost will go the magazines.

"We're excited Texture will join Apple, along with an impressive catalog of magazines from many of the world's leading publishers," said Apple executive Eddy Cue in a press release after Texture's acquisition on March 12. "We are committed to quality journalism from trusted sources and allowing magazines to keep producing beautifully designed and engaging stories for users."

Apple's foray into digital journalism highlights the Cupertino tech giant's rapid expansion in its services segment, which includes Apple Music, iBooks and other services. The services segment was the second-fastest-growing category for Apple in its latest earnings report in February; it grew 18 percent in the company's 2018 first quarter compared with the same period a year earlier. It finished behind the "other devices" segment—which includes Apple Watch, AirPods and Apple TV—at 36 percent.

However, Apple has tried other similar digital media ventures in the past. Apple once had an app called Newsstand that combined several magazines and newspapers, providing subscriptions for individual outlets. Newsstand was replaced with Apple News in 2015.

From 2011 to 2012, Apple and News Corp. - which owns The Times of London, the Wall Street Journal and Fox Broadcasting Company—launched The Daily, the first iPad-only app.

"Our experience was that we could not find a large enough audience quickly enough to convince us the business model was sustainable in the long-term," said News Corp. owner Rupert Murdoch in a statement in 2012 in announcing the closure of The Daily.

Despite its reputation as a company that rarely acquires other companies, Apple has made other media-related purchases. In 2014, Apple spent $3 billion for Beats to jump-start its music services, and $15 million for BookLamp, which was then touted as a "Pandora for books."

"Generally in Apple's history, we haven't made large acquisitions," said Cue in a live South by Southwest panel last month in Austin, Texas. "It's that old Wayne Gretzky quote, 'You have to skate to where the puck is going, not to where it is.' "

Explore further: Apple buys digital magazine subscription service

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