Will iOS 5’s Newstand, Safari Reading List Reshape New Media?
In case you missed it, on June 6, 2011, at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference, Steve Jobs unveiled Mac OS X Lion, iOS 5 and iCloud. And while iCloud has direct channel implications, iOS 5 has some media implications. Naturally, as a media team, we’re interested. In particular, there are two new features in iOS 5 that could shift the way you read our content, and shift the way we provide it. If you’re a VAR with your own blog, you might want to read up on the features. There’s a lot of potential, but will it go anywhere?
You may remember way back in November 2010, when I speculated that Apple’s collaboration with Rupert Murdoch on “The Daily” could very well change the way we consume news in much the same the way iTunes changed the way we listen to music. The Daily was cool, but it wasn’t earth-shattering. There were also rumors that Apple was working on in-app subscriptions, which also came to fruition. But the whisperings of a digital news stand got lost for a while — until now.
Apple has now launched the aptly named Newsstand, complete with shelves to be populated by the latest and greatest magazines and other publications users have subscribed to. New editions magically appear overnight, much in the same way the Kindle works. Shopping the Newsstand store lets users pick out a magazine easier than ever — no longer will users have to poke around the App Store looking for a publication’s app. For the media, it’s a new source of exposure that allows them to keep their flashy front-page publication styles. It also means smaller magazines and media startups have the potential to reach a bigger audience, with so many Apple users perusing the marketplace.
The second is Safari Reader in iOS with Safari Reading List, which lets users save web pages to read later, or offline, pretty much exactly like Instapaper. The upshot for the reader is access to the content they want when they want it. The downside is that ads magically float away (Apple even advertised this feature), which could potentially cause some real problems for web masters and site sponsors.
These ‘problems’ go beyond RSS readers and news applications, since they often keep ads intact in some small shape or form, and some RRS feeds don’t even include full stories, forcing a click to the actual page. Those organizations paranoid of Safari Reader will put up a pay wall and call it a day, but the smarter outlets will realize that the future isn’t blogs, it’s the idea of users reading their content on their device when they want to and not on the website from whence it came. That means new media needs to figure out how to do that for users.
A clumsy and annoying way to solve the problem would be to inject in-line text ads into the content of an article or blog, but that doesn’t really fix the problem. A smarter way would be for new media to engage users to not just read their content, but also participate in a discussion outside their little reader box. That’s something we’ve done here at Nine Lives, between our webcasts, FastChats, newsletters and hey, even forums!
Does that mean new media needs to invent cheesy things to lure readers to their actual websites? No. But if Safari Reader catches on, mew media will need to provide something compelling to engage their readers other than a headline. And if a blog or news outlet fails to do that, then? Well, I suppose they could always fall back on the old monthly/weekly subscription model and end up on the Apple Newsstand.
Who said print is dead? It’s just gone digital.