There is growing tension between news publishers and tech giant Apple, after it was revealed Apple’s upcoming iOS14 update would automatically redirect readers away from news sites.
Apple last year launched Apple News+, a subscription service where users pay $14.99 (or $US9.99 in the States) for access to magazines and newspapers that would otherwise be behind a paywall.
According to the founder of Scroll Tony Haile, under Apple’s new operating system Apple News+ is “intercepting traffic” from publisher sites by sending traffic to Apple News.
MacRumors revealed there is a toggle in setting – which is enabled by default – designed to open web links from Apple News+ publishers directly in Apple News, therefore directing users who click/tap on a news story in Safari to the Apple news app, as opposed to the publisher’s website.
Apple has said it is doing this to improve user experience, telling The Verge: “This change offers subscribers seamless access to the content that is part of their News+ subscription right in the News app or publisher app, as well as providing publishers with increased engagement and revenue opportunities on Apple News.”
However, some have already called into question Apple’s motives behind the move.
“Any strategic rationale that Apple News+ represents a separate channel/audience is now gone. This directly cannibalizes a publishers’ core subscription audience,” said Haile.
“Apple has been touting privacy as its core attribute, particularly blocking cross-site tracking. In this case, not only is Apple engaging in cross-site tracking, but is doing so as a default opt-in buried in the settings.”
There are also now reports of growing unrest between Apple and its publisher partners over the move.
AdAge is reporting two publishers (who requested to remain anonymous) are now weighing up whether or not they terminate their relationship with Apple News+ on the back of this latest news.
Both publishers said they were not told by Apple of the changes.
While Apple News+ theoretically serves to benefit publishers by widening their reach, this is by no means the first disagreement between the involved parties.
But with many publishers forced to undercut their own prices by signing up to Apple News+, and with revenue split between Apple and the various publishers, many are unimpressed with the service so far.
New York Times – which refused to sign up for Apple News+ and even went as far as to withdraw from Apple News altogether in June – CEO Mark Thompson last year questioned the service.
“We tend to be quite leery about the idea of almost habituating people to find our journalism somewhere else,” he told Reuters.
“We’re also generically worried about our journalism being scrambled in a kind of Magimix (blender) with everyone else’s journalism.”
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