Apple and News Corp To Shake Up New Media?
It’s only a rumor, of course, but that doesn’t mean we can’t discuss the implications. Word on the Web is that Apple and News Corp. are teaming up for a new kind of publication in an entirely new way. How would you feel if your news wasn’t web-based, or paper-based, but actually app-based? Read on for the details…
The UK publication The Guardian has some specific details on Apple’s publication plans. According to the report, the app will be called “The Daily” and cost 99 cents a week. Sounds great, right? There’s a catch, however. All the content you read in “The Daily” can only be read there. There will be no web-based version, nor will there be any other way to access this news.
Allegedly, Steve Jobs and News Corp. mogul and CEO Rupert Murdoch worked intimately together on this (and are rumored to unveil it together at the end of November 2010.) The entire ‘publication’ will be run out of the News Corp. building, with apparently 100 journalists already hired.
The rumors also continue that “The Daily” has been jointly developed with Apple engineers, too, and there are reports that Murdoch has called the iPad-only news app a “game changer.” (Simultaneously, reports have come in that the iPad-only exclusivity will eventually flow to other tablet readers.) Apple has also been said to be working on a new subscription model (no word on if News Corp. is helping), specifically for publications on the tablet. Apple’s grasp on a solid subscription model is rumored to directly related to a stand-alone app that will be a digital newsstand, similar to iBooks.
In effect, Apple has cornered the digital music market, and I think this is Apple’s plan to corner the digital news market, too. The current state of digital publications on the iPad tend to be cumbersome, expensive or require large downloads, however cool. (See Wired Magazine). Publications on the iPad also frequently don’t mesh with existing paper subscriptions (though The Economist has just released their app that finally addresses this issue, providing existing subscribers with free downloads of the weekly magazine.)
But Apple’s relationship with News Corp. — should it be true — is potentially monumental. News Corp.’s reach is wide and having an Apple-exclusive source of news is tantalizing and dangerous at the same time. We’ve seen that people don’t appreciate having a ‘walled garden’ for news, but 99 cents a week is quite honestly the cheapest subscription I’ve heard of — not counting some Kindle publication subscriptions. Those who control the media wield enormous power, and Apple dipping their toe into the Murdoch pool could change people’s perception of what they read while also changing how people get their news. (Jobs and Murdoch both elicit strong emotions, which include distrust and hatred.)
But maybe that’s all just too alarmist. No one will force you to buy “The Daily” or get your news from it, but if Apple’s position on media becomes as forceful and disruptive as their position on music, it could more quickly bankrupt the traditional news outlets faster than it shifted the way record companies controlled music.