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OPLIN 4Cast #254: Paying for content

Posted in 4cast

Newspaper and magazine publishers share a common problem with libraries: how do you convince people (or government officials and administrators in the case of libraries) that they should expect to pay for good information? There is a common perception that the “free” information you get from a Google search – never mind the ads – is good enough, and that there is no need to spend money on any other source of information. But now we may have an unintentional ally in Apple. The Newsstand feature in iOS 5, the latest operating software for iPhones and iPads, automatically collects apps that access subscription-based content, like magazines and newspapers, and there is some evidence that this easy way to buy news is leading to increased willingness to pay for information.

  • Study: tablet users love to read the news, still reluctant to pay for it (SiliconFilter/Frederic Lardinois)  “It’s worth noting, though, that this data was gathered before the launch of iOS5. Some early data suggests that the Newsstand feature Apple built into its new operating system could boost sales for news-related apps. It remains to be seen if this is a real trend or just driven by curiosity as users try out this new feature, though.”
  • Condé Nast digital subs soar 268% after iPad gets Newsstand (Electronista/staff)  “Other publishers have seen their own spikes after the iOS 5 update. While some owners have complained that Newsstand isn’t removable from the home screens and only checks once a day, the exposure is much stronger than on Android or other platforms where magazines are either folded into the main bookstore or are still available only as regular apps.”
  • Apple’s Newsstand is already booming for some magazine publishers (paidContent/Robert Andrews)  “Consumer magazine publisher Future says free container apps for its titles were downloaded two million times in three days and reports ‘consumer spending well in excess of normal monthly revenues’. ‘Future has sold more digital editions in the past four days through Apple’s Newsstand than in a normal month,’ says UK CEO Mark Wood.”
  • Apple’s Newsstand a huge success for digital publishers (Wired/Christina Bonnington)  “Numerous publishers are reporting subscription surges for their newspaper and magazine apps. PixelMags reported a 1,150 percent growth increase in the first week after Newsstand and iOS 5 debuted on Oct. 12. It’s now sold over four million digital magazines.”

Revenue fact:
Apple still collects 30% of subscription revenue from publishers that offer digital content through Apple, which has lead a collective of major French newspapers to refuse to sell through Newsstand.