Apple to close Texture on May 28, following launch of Apple News+

A year ago, Apple acquired the digital newsstand app Texture to form the basis of its new subscription-based service, Apple News+, which launched on Monday. As some have expected, the standalone Texture app will soon shut down as a result. According to emails sent to current Texture subscribers pointing to a FAQ on the company’s website, Texture’s last day of service will be May 28, 2019. Existing customers will be offered a one-month free trial to Apple News+ to make the jump.

A closure like this was bound to come. It doesn’t make sense for Apple to continue to operate both Texture and Apple News.

But not everyone is thrilled about this change, of course.

Specifically, Android users and other subscribers without any Apple devices will now no longer have a way to access Texture, they’ve realized. That means they’ll lose access to the service entirely when it closes down in May (unless they buy a Mac or iOS device.)

These customers were early adopters of subscription-based news reading. Many have had their Texture accounts for years. And it’s clear that most were holding out hope that Apple would launch a web or Android version of Apple News, or at least continue to operate Texture until such a thing was ready.

It wouldn’t have been entirely unprecedented for Apple to go this route.

Apple today runs an Apple Music Android app, for example, and offers an Android app for its Beats Pill speakers. It also provides desktop software to non-Mac users with iTunes for Windows, for example. And with the launch of Apple TV+, the company is seemingly embracing non-Apple platforms by rolling out an Apple TV app to Vizio, Samsung and LG smart TVs, Amazon Fire TV, and Roku.

It’s also bit surprising that Texture’s existing customers aren’t being offered a better incentive to switch to Apple News+, as a way to reward their loyalty or to make up for the frustrations around having to switch apps – especially since their favorites and collections will not transition to the Apple News app. Instead, the Texture email says they’ll be offered a “one month free trial” to test out the service. That’s the same deal all new Apple News+ subscribers get.

After the first month, the subscription will auto-renew at $9.99 per month.

Apple News+, however, does deliver more value than Texture, in terms of content selection.

Instead of only offering access to hundreds of magazines for one low subscription price, Apple News+ subscribers can also read articles from a handful of newspapers, including The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, and Toronto Star, as well as online publications like theSkimm, The Highlight by Vox, New York Magazine’s sites Vulture, The Cut and Grub Street. TechCrunch’s own subscription product, Extra Crunch, is also participating in Apple News+.

It’s also available for the Mac for the first time.

That doesn’t help non-Apple customers, though.

Those losing access to Texture as a result of Apple’s decision to make Apple News+ an Apple device-only service do at least have something of an alternative with Scribd. Its subscription service offers unlimited access to audiobooks, ebooks and magazines for $8.99/month, or can be bundled with The NYT for $12.99/month. However, it doesn’t have the same range of magazines as on Texture, so switchers may lose access to several of their favorite titles.

Report: Apple’s news and magazine subscription service to launch in early 2019

Bloomberg today updated its earlier reporting on Apple’s plans for a news and magazine subscription service. Earlier this year, the outlet said Apple would relaunch the digital newsstand business Texture, which it acquired this spring, as part of the Apple News app. Now, Bloomberg confirms the launch time frame could be “as soon as this spring.” It also detailed some of the industry reaction, which is cautious at best.

Apple is said to be courting paywalled newspapers like The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times to join Texture, and is working on a new design for the magazine content. Instead of trying to mimic what a magazine looks like in print, as it does today, Apple is making the content look more like typical online news articles, Bloomberg said.

The report also noted publishers were proceeding with trepidation, in many cases. Because Apple is offering a lower pricing — $9.99 per month for all-you-can-eat news and magazine content, similar to the Netflix model — publishers are worried Apple’s service will eat into their revenues. This $10 price point, after all, is cheaper than a subscription to a single publication — like The NYT’s digital subscription — in some cases

Instead, publishers prefer a platform that lets them build their own paywalls right into Apple’s app.

But Apple’s counterpoint during negotiations has been that the subscriber growth it could bring would make up for the lost revenues from publishers’ own subscription businesses, the report also said. The company compared its potential to that of Apple Music, which is nearing 60 million users, according to the latest from Billboard.

Texture today offers access to more than 200 magazines, including Vanity Fair, EW, GQ, Vogue, Forbes, Time, People, Rolling Stone, Cosmopolitan, Sports Illustrated and many others, including Bloomberg Businessweek.

Apple to launch a premium news subscription service, report says

More details are out this morning about Apple’s plans for Texture, the digital newsstand business it acquired last month. According to a new report from Bloomberg, Apple is planning to launch its own premium news subscription service in an upgraded version of the Apple News app, arriving sometime in the next year. The service will split revenues between Apple and magazine publishers, but details regarding that split were not available.

Today, however, Apple takes a 15 percent cut on subscriptions sold in the App Store.

Bloomberg also noted that around twenty Texture employees were cut post acquisition, while the remaining staff and technology is being integrated with the Apple News team.

In the past, Apple offered magazines and newspaper subscriptions through its former Newsstand app, and through Apple News, which replaced it. However, these are currently sold individually. Texture, meanwhile, operated more like a “Netflix for magazine publishing,” where readers were able to access around 200 magazines for a monthly fee of $9.99. For $14.99 per month, the subscription would include some weekly magazine titles, as well.

Before Apple, Texture was owned by Condé Nast, Hearst, Meredith, Rogers Media and KKR.

Assuming Bloomberg is correct in reporting that Texture will lead to a similar subscription-based model for magazines in Apple News, it raises some concerns. Apple notoriously likes to control news about itself, as part of maintaining its public image. This heavy-handed strategy means that Apple won’t respond to some day-to-day press inquiries, unless it’s to set the record straight on unflattering reports. It also likes to pass counterpoints along to favored reporters, at times, in order to quietly get its viewpoints some ink, without its name attached to the reporting. Years ago, it sent police to break down a reporter’s door to regain access to a lost iPhone prototype, that the news org had come to acquire.

While not all magazine publishers are focused on “news,” those who do cover tech and Apple specifically, could become uncomfortable with also relying on Apple for subscription revenues. Would any negative reporting affect their standing with the company? Would Apple kick them out of the subscription program, if news became unfavorable? For a company that so tightly protects its reputation, it’s not an outlandish concern.

In addition, publishers have already learned the downfalls associated with relying on a platform’s reach and distribution to help keep them afloat, by working with Facebook. The gave up control, only to find their content downgraded in a Facebook algorithm change. That specific scenario doesn’t translate to Apple’s News platform, of course. But publishers may find themselves unable to resist Apple’s call to participate, given its potential to pull in millions of subscribers.


Apple acquires digital newsstand Texture as it doubles down on content ‘from trusted sources’

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