illustration Apple News Plus: Rotten at the Core

By Greg Wester, CMO 

Apple News Plus’ recent announcement spurred some in the industry to refer to it as a “Netflix for magazines”. I beg to differ. Sure, they both cost upwards of a Hamilton a month, but that’s where the similarity ends.

Let’s look at four key points.

  1. Netflix offers great discovery
  2. Netflix offers a path to lowering a consumer’s expenditure via cord-cutting, and therefore
  3. Netflix is a solution for the masses.

None of these three are true for Apple News Plus.

That said, give Apple some credit – at least Apple is brilliantly realizing that they have the opportunity to change content discovery by leveraging the UI/UX of their phones…  which brings me to my fourth key point.

  1. Why are we just talking about Apple? Better content discovery is something that carriers and OEMs alike, should be equally as assertive in exploring.

But I digress.  Let’s get back to picking apples . . . apart.

This Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From The Tree

Apple News Plus is self-serving. There’s been much written about how Apple News Plus is a crappy deal for publishers. Well it’s pretty crappy for consumers as well. Unlike Google, Apple isn’t nearly as big in the mobile ad space, so subscriptions fit better with firm strategy.

But unless you’re content to scrap multiple brick and mortar newspaper and magazine subscriptions, odds are Apple News Plus is solely an incremental expense.  Unlike Netflix, there’s no other cord to cut which would make it a cost saver.

And that’s before we even consider that the consumer experience falls short of what consumers actually want.

Apple Is Making People Pick Their Own Bushel When All We Want Is Some Sweet Sauce

The Netflix UI/UX for content discovery experience is brilliant. Apple News Plus’ discovery interface sucks.  Even though you’ve watched 5 episodes of Game of Thrones the last few nights, when you next turn it on Netflix, it salaciously and tempestuously promotes other compelling content. You may sample and/or save these recommendations or merely continue on with Thrones, but the net result is an endless mental or real Watchlist.

Netflix crushes it because it combines content with unique discovery – making it super easy to find what you didn’t know you wanted. It’s not successful simply because it stuffs more content than you could possibly know what to do with in one place.

It shouldn’t be different with smartphones.  On our phones, half the time we unlock our device, we’re Appnostic– or don’t have a specific app in mind. We don’t want to go-a-hunting, we want something served up.

As one reviewstates:

While the service is great as an all-you-can-read buffet, Apple does very little to help readers maneuver the massive mountain of magazines they now have access to.

This is like choosing bobbing to find an apple in a bucket versus having one hand-picked specifically for you. And besides, when it comes to how we discover content on smartphones, subscribers usually don’t want a massive sit down meal anyway – they want snackable Hors d’oeuvres.

It’s Time For Someone Else To Take A Bite

The success of Apple News, the “non-Plus” version, did show that people are looking for easier and unique ways to find and enjoy the content they love. In today’s increasingly frictionless world, no one has time or patience to dig around for quality (think the success of Facebook), we merely consume what’s convenient.

So why are we just talking about Apple here?  Sure we’ve also been following Google’s advances with Google News and Discover, but where are the large wireless carriers and other global OEMs?  They can create a similar service, not charge the customer a dime (i.e., actually make all users happy), and create a mobile ad revenue opportunity they’ve been yearning for.

My Last Bite

Pardon me carriers and OEMs, but “Wake up.”  It’s time to innovate. New mobile content discovery solutions can make you the apple of your subscriber’s eyes.