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It Might Need a Huff to Puff Its Discontent to Apple

by User Not Found | Jun 24, 2015

It needed a “Taylor”-made open letter when it came to paying (or not paying), music copyright holders during the three months’ free trial period of Apple Music’s launch before Apple pulled off a good crisis PR task to reverse its decision, rather “Swift”-ly.

This case somehow overshadows a concurrent, albeit much lower profile, case against another new service Apple launched at the same WWDC event: “News”.

The main complaint by the publishers, especially the bloggers, on the to-be-launched News service is the explicit opt-out requirement by Apple. In other words, if a publisher is not happy with the terms and conditions, then it’s on the publisher to change its own RSS setup or explicitly declare that it won’t be participating in the service. This, according to a lawyer quoted by the BBC, is “very unusual”. We believe this blanketing approach from Apple was driven by its need to launch the service as quickly and with as much content as possible.

Another interesting point is that Apple claims the right to place advertisements next to publishers' content without sharing income with them. This brings us back to the comparison with Facebook’s “Instant Articles”, which does not add its own advertisements to the content publishers share on the platform, and allow the publishers to retain 70% of ad revenues if the ads are sold through Facebook channels. Apple may have the “coolness” clout and Apple News may have a broader user base, considering “Instant Articles” is only available to the latest Facebook app on iOS devices, but “Instant Articles” is more publisher-friendly when it comes to advertisement management and revenue sharing. Again, we recommend news publishers not putting eggs in one basket when it comes to distribution channels, however large the basket might be.

The News case has not attracted as much media attention as the Apple Music hiccup has, largely because there has not been a high profile “spokesperson” for the publishers and bloggers. It might need a Huffington Post, the blogosphere’s answer to Swift, to voice its discontent before Apple could listen. Admittedly, Huffington Post is not among the launching partners to Apple News. Its parent company, AOL, was recently acquired by Verizon

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