Apple magazine service
Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share
18 March 2019
To join the Apple magazine service or not
The conundrum of being a magazine publisher results in this. Fewer people are buying subscriptions but your content is the only valuable asset you own. So when the Apple magazine services comes calling it seems like both a godsend and a seduction from the devil.
Apple represents the devil to some publishers because the tech giant wants publishers to share half of the revenue its service generates for those publications.
That’s giving away a whole lotta your beans, isn’t it?
Let’s back up for a second. An announcement of the Apple magazine service comes next week. It lets users sign up for a monthly fee (expected to be around $10) with access to more than 200 magazines and newspapers. Which issues you download decide the 50% of the profits going to publications.
From the publishers’ point of view, that’s a big chunk to let go. Especially if you believe the Apple magazine service will cannibalize your current circulation.
You can tell Apple to jump into a lake only IF you have a strong enough brand to not need the service. In fact, Apple seems to recognize some of that. Some reports suggest The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times will command higher fees.
“But if you want to take on Apple, then you better own a brand at least as strong. And who in publishing has that?”
Can your brand withstand the Apple magazine service?
Other than those two, though, who in publishing has a strong enough brand to stay alive the current way? We read reports every day of layoffs all across the media landscape. Could the Apple magazine service actually be a lifesaver?
Here’s what I think. Unless you already have a meaningful and emotional brand that attracts loyal readers, you should join the service. This is much akin to the response of the music industry to iTunes years ago. The industry hollered knowing they’d have to share profits with the service. And they were especially appalled that listeners could buy a song instead of the whole album. The only brand that ignites profitable album sales today is Adele. Who has an appealing and emotional brand.
With the Apple magazine service, publishers have access to more than a billion devices. Publishers may think it will take away from its own readership, and maybe that’s true.
But if you want to take on Apple, then you better own a brand at least as strong. And who in publishing has that?
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