- iOS 9 is a major upgrade of Apple's mobile OS, especially for the forthcoming iPad Pro.
- Apple is making exclusive publishing deals with top news publishers for the iOS 9 News app.
- Wired’s experiment with an Apple News exclusive has profound implications for the future of how we access news online.
- Apple is interested in becoming a publishing platform in its own right.
- Besides Apple News, iOS 9 is packed with useful improvements and notable new features that are likely to boost Apple's stock.
A few days ago Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) launched iOS 9, the new version of Apple's iOS operating system for the iPhone and the iPad. iOS 9 is a really big deal and a major upgrade, especially for the forthcoming iPad Pro. Just three days after the launch, an incredible 36.7% of users have already installed iOS 9. In comparison, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) currently reports that only 21 percent of its active Android users have obtained some version of Android 5.0 Lollipop since it first became available nearly a year ago. The Wall Street Journal just updated the number of iOS 9 installs to half of iOS devices in existence.
Wired is running a feature titled "Meet the Superstar Architect Transforming NYC’s Skyline." But if you click on the link, what you see is "This story is being previewed exclusively on Apple News until Tuesday, September 22nd. Please check this page again at that time," followed by instructions on how to view this story in the Apple News app on your iOS 9 device. On Apple News, you can read the full feature, which begins with "On a misty April day, Bjarke Ingels is standing on the roof of an old brick building, high above a cobblestoned street in Lower Manhattan."
Apparently, the Wired story is but the first experiment of Apple with exclusive content for users of Apple devices. It's important to note that online news are usually free, and users don't seem willing to start paying for news. Some news publishers try to introduce paywalls, but most users just switch to other news publishers. Yet, publishers must make money somehow. Online ads are an evident strategy, but ad-blocking software is rapidly growing in popularity - for example, another feature of iOS 9 is that now the Safari browser allows third-party ad-blocking extensions.
With less and less users willing to pay for content, and more and more users blocking ads, the ways for online publishers to monetize their content are becoming more and more limited. Perhaps the new scheme - sell the exclusive rights to Apple for a few days - is one of the best strategies, and a win-win deal for the publishers and Apple. The publishers won't have to insist on paywalls and ads, and Apple will be able to offer one more compelling reason to buy Apple devices.
According to Forbes, Wired’s experiment with an Apple News exclusive has profound implications for the future of how we access news online.
Forbes worries that the move might represent the beginning of a reversal of 20 years of universal accessibility of news and placing that content not back in the hands of journalists, but in the hands of technology companies not bound by the norms of journalism. The web today is undergoing a fundamental transition in which it is fragmenting into privately-held walled gardens detached and inaccessible from the open internet, with massively complex algorithms filtering the news and deciding who has access.
The trend might be inevitable - if the publishers need income, and the online readers don't want to pay or watch ads, then some third party must pay, and Apple is moving to fill that emerging niche. However, the trend toward temporary walled gardens for top publishers' news might also facilitate a renaissance of small, niche online news publishers that are increasingly threatened by major publishers.
Besides Apple News, iOS 9 is packed with useful improvements and notable new features, such as performance improvements and new multi-fingers actions, including a keyboard feature that simplifies text selection and copy/paste edit actions. It seems likely that iOS 9 will keep existing Apple users happy and faithful to the brand, as well as win many new converts and boost Apple's stock.