It’s easy to see why Apple favors the scheme. It gets a windfall of new revenue at a time when the decline in iPhone sales has made selling additional services a high priority. It gets to bring more high-quality publishers onto its platform, burnishing its reputation as a premium brand. And it gets to talk loudly about how much it loves journalism, as Apple vice president Eddy Cue did when announcing Apple’s acquisition of the subscription news app Texture last year. “We are committed to quality journalism from trusted sources and allowing magazines to keep producing beautifully designed and engaging stories for users,” he said at the time.
Publishers, meanwhile, may need to hire new employees to manage the partnership, build the necessary product integrations, and address customer service issues. At a time when the industry is already laying off hundreds of journalists, asking them to build out their partnership and product teams in exchange for a potential revenue increase in the single digits appears laughable on its face.
Man, we are willing to do just about anything except take ad revenue and subscription money and spend it on journalism. We’ll spend it on pundits and cable-yellers, we’ll spend it on consultants and digital paradigm shifts and machine learning plans, we’ll spend it on rebrand after rebrand after rebrand, we’ll spend it developing spin-off companies within our news media company, we’ll spend it on hush money for victims of serial sexual harassers, we’ll spend it on developing software to write box scores for high school baseball games, we’ll spend it on real estate. We’ll spend it on glitter glue. We’ll spend it on regular glue.
Anything, ANYTHING, other than news.
It’s my forlorn hope that after the video pivot and the podcast boom and the hyperlocal experiments and the longform mega-wank and the Facebook bots and the Snapchat productions and the endless, endless, endless shitshow that is paywalls, publishers will just finally be so tired they’ll agree to do journalism. But the enthusiasm for this type of thing is just too stupid and predictable. Can a webinar be far behind?