You may have heard Apple’s announcement last week introducing their update for iPad and iPhone, with one of the new features including Apple’s new News app; but is this even something marketers should get involved in?
The Apple News app claims it’ll remove the clutter and noise associated with web-based articles, giving a more magazine-feel to the reading experience. Users will get automatic article updates to any publication they subscribe to, but also suggested articles and publishers to broaden appeal to both user and publisher.
Not just a promising opportunity for the large publishers – as evidenced by The New York Times, ESPN and Condé Nast already signing up – anyone can sign up for the Apple News, which offers companies the platform to publish content such as photo galleries, infographics, audio, video, maps, advanced interactions and animation clips. With that in mind, why wouldn’t you want to be involved?
“Depending on the amount of work required to create News app-ready articles there’s very little reason why you wouldn’t want to be involved” Dusted’s very own Matt King told me. Matt is our resident creative technologist – a position I certainly can’t lay claim to (just ask my Blackberry Bold). I asked Matt if there was anything prospective publishers should be wary of.
“… articles will need to be created as ‘Apple News Format’ documents (which no one outside of Apple knows anything about at this stage). However, on top of this proprietary news format the new app will support RSS which is already ubiquitous as a news article delivery system.”
Sounds like RSS is the safer, wiser option, right?
“RSS offers much less in the way of the rich experience that will be available in the Apple News Format – RSS is pretty much plain text, hyperlinks and images only.”
Another factor Apple were very keen to mention is that they won’t be sharing user data. How will this affect marketers?
“There will be analytics and reporting available for Apple News Format publications. This will most likely be completely anonymised given Apple’s recent push to highlight user privacy (their biggest market differentiator against Google), but this is rarely any different to normal web-based analytics.”
But don’t be fooled by Matt’s enthusiasm, it isn’t all good news for those budding content writers/soon-to-be-publishers.
“Firstly, it’s Apple-only at this stage, so its audience is limited to the iOS platform. Secondly, it’s becoming increasingly clear that there is a large chunk of smartphone users that consume their content almost exclusively via social networks, particularly Facebook.”
According to Matt, it’s no coincidence the Apple bulletin came so soon after Facebook’s announcement of their own news publishing platform, which could prove a huge competitive obstacle for Apple’s News app: “There will soon be a large amount of people that wont ever have to leave the Facebook app if the articles they are reading are fully integrated.”
So it begs the question – is it worth it? The conclusion I gathered from my chat with Matt is that there’s a lot of opportunity with varying levels of potential; that while there’s a chance Facebook could overshadow Apple’s app, there will still be millions of iPad and iPhone users automatically downloading the News app for their update. It’s certainly worth the effort – with Apple not restricting links from articles, some clear call-to-actions could drive visitors to publisher sites.
The update will be available later this year for free on iPhone 4s and later, iPod Touch (fifth generation), iPad 2 and later and iPad mini and later. Still no word if Blackberry Bold will get anything like this; hey there’s a niche for someone to fill, right? Anyone?