Apple News: what’s the impact for publishers on mobile ?

First of all, we don’t really have that many details yet about what Apple will actually be introducing as part of iOS9 in the US, UK & Australia (and probably later in other countries as well).

What we do know about Apple News:

  • It is based on an RSS-type newsfeed
  • It will include a content creation/management tool called News Publisher
  • It will be available for iOS only and targets mobile news consumption
  • Revenue will only be based on advertising and so content will be available for free
  • It will combine news content from different sources
  • Apple human editors (journalists) are to select (“curate”) news from different publishers
  • Content can include photos and galleries, audio, video, maps and rich interactions such as animations
  • The reader will be able to set his preferences and will get a suggestion of categories and articles based on these preferences and on his reading behaviour

What we presume:

  • News Publisher will likely be web-based and will be like an automatic web stream of content

You could compare this new service to something like Flipboard or Zite, but with a better reading experience, by offering more enriched content.

Why is Apple introducing this service?

Why did Apple develop iTunes? In the same way that they wanted to reinvent music consumption, they may now think there is a need to reinvent the way we are consuming news content.

Apple’s earnings model for news and magazine apps with 30% on subscriptions and in-app purchases has always received criticism from publishers, and Apple is well aware a lot of publishers have used workarounds to publish their content without having to pay those 30% (using direct entitlement). As big a market place that the App Store may be, Apple’s Newsstand turned out not to be enough for publishers.

So now Apple is providing a different model with Apple News: a publisher earns 100% of the revenue from ads he sells himself, and 70% when iAd, Apple’s advertising platform, sells ads for him. This approach is more attractive for publishers. They only need to provide their content in the Apple News format, the exact details of which have yet to be announced.

Is this a threat to the existing news and magazine apps?

First we think there is a major difference between news consumption and magazine consumption.
Magazine consumption is all about taking the time to read more in-depth articles about the subjects you value in the magazines (brands) that you appreciate. You expect a great reading experience with a lot of enriched content and quality journalism. When you read this type of content, you don’t really want to see it presented according to standard templates. Having a plethora of different types of content is also not what you are looking for, as you will only take the time to read a selected group or maybe only one or two magazines when you are in ‘magazine consumption’ mode.
So if you take this point of view, then the Apple News initiative is clearly not going to replace magazine apps, but rather complement it. It can even become a valuable channel to attract new readers by offering e.g. a digest edition.

The way we consume daily news is completely different. We are looking for as much news as possible, obviously on the subjects we are interested in. So having an app that offers us this service can be valuable and if the content is offered for free, that’s even better. We don’t mind that this content is displayed according to a limited number of templates, we just focus on the content. We are usually not looking to absorb very much information on one subject, but we are hungry for a multitude of news snippets. Many readers trust a selected group of sources per point of interest, and visit these news sources on a daily basis. So the question is: will we change our habit and value a new source that has no track record related to news?

So from our point of view Apple News does have potential for pure daily news but it will be hard to change habits.

Also look at the way many people are already using apps like Flipboard & Zite today: they use them occasionally in addition to their trusted news sources just to find some more info but they are usually not their first choice. It is just a nice to have. They only offer the advantage of the aggregation of the news for your points of interest. But again there is also an order in the priorities you give to the subjects you are interested in, and for the top 5 you’ll likely have your own sources.

The fact that this content is offered for free may be an issue! Previously many publishers made the mistake to only offer a lousy web-solution to their readers that made it impossible for them to monetize it. Today most of them are offering a real good product but find it very difficult to evolve from a free model to a paid model.

On mobile devices publishers did not make the mistake of offering their content for free so the reader does not yet have this expectation. If the Apple News app becomes successful this perception might change and become a real threat for publishers not being able to sell their subscriptions on mobile any more. So they should certainly consider whether they are prepared to switch to an advertising-only earnings model.

At the same time we have to say a majority of those publishers did not yet succeed in offering an enhanced reading experience to their mobile readers, and many are just publishing PDF replicas. So they are not able to create added value for those mobile editions when compared to print editions. Which explains why readers are not attracted to those publications and are not willing to pay for them.
Here Apple News could set new standards and really make it clear enriched content is the only way to go!

Can you use content created with Twixl Publisher for Apple News?

It is too early to say. Once we have received more information about the Apple News format, we will investigate the possibilities and evaluate how we can tie in our solution with Apple News.

What about Newsstand?

What is Newsstand? It is actually nothing more than a category of apps that offer the capability of downloading new content in the background, and that are organized in a special “Newsstand” folder.
In iOS9 the current Newsstand apps will continue to work in the same way, including the background download, but they will all become ‘standard’ apps with a regular app icon.

Conclusion

Apple News surely has the potential to become a channel for publishers, both news & magazines, to attract new readers to their own branded apps and in that way perhaps also generate more revenue.
But don’t expect too much of it and don’t put all your money on it, as branded apps remain the core business for publishing on mobile devices for the time being.

Posted in News

Twixl Publisher 4.1 is now available

We’re pleased to announce that Twixl Publisher 4.1 is now available for download!

 

So what’s new in this release?
(If you don’t want to read the rest of this article, just check out the video!)

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Posted in News

Twixl Publisher 4.0.10 maintenance release & 4.1 public beta

Now available for download: a maintenance release 4.0.10 of Twixl Publisher, and at the same time, we’re also introducing a public beta of Twixl Publisher 4.1.

Here are some of the new features in Twixl Publisher 4.1, due out soon:

  • Twixl previewing improvements – no need to manually enter an IP address for the Viewer device
  • Direct support for integrating Adobe Edge Animate or Tumult Hype .oam files
  • Support for using iBooks Author .wdgt files as web viewers
  • You can now define categories in a kiosk app
  • We added a new “Users & Groups” entitlement option for easier Enterprise deployment
  • Background downloading is now improved, so that downloads will continue in the background when you exit the app, even if the device is put to sleep or if auto-lock is triggered

Check it out now.

Posted in News

Why Twixl Publisher doesn’t support the EPUB format…

We recently received a couple of requests from users to ask whether we intend to add support for the EPUB 3 format in our Twixl Publisher product. We assume these questions are triggered by the fact that Adobe is pushing fixed-layout EPUB as ‘the’ solution for users that are left out in the cold now that Adobe DPS Single Edition is no longer part of Creative Cloud.

The way we see it, fixed-layout EPUB 3 does not offer an added value for users that are currently creating content in InDesign.

Here’s why:

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Posted in Mobile, News

Sneak peek for Twixl Publisher 4.1: easier previewing

Our upcoming 4.1 release, expected to become available later this month, will allow much easier and faster previewing on a device.

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Posted in News

Coming in Twixl Publisher 4.1:
Use categories in your kiosk apps

Our upcoming 4.1 release, expected to become available in June, will allow publishers to define “categories” in multi-issue apps.

Categories allow you to split your issues into different sections, e.g. to organize your content by subject, or by year, etc.

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Posted in News, Twixl Distribution Platform

Publish HTML-based “HPub” content with Twixl Publisher 4

In Twixl Publisher 4.0, we added support for a new file format called HPub. An HPub publication is like an HTML5 microsite, that could also be rendered in a standard browser.

Content can be created using the HTML tools of your choice, then packaged according to the HPub specification.

Visit.Brussels
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Posted in How-To, Twixl Publisher OS X app

How to customize your Twixl kiosk

Twixl Publisher offers a number of options to adjust things like the toolbar colors in your app, or the backgrounds and colors used in the store. These allow you to give your app a personal touch.

But it doesn’t end there… by integrating things like an info page and/or an info cell in your kiosk, you can communicate more directly with your readers.

Visit.Brussels

In this article, we want to give an overview of the different parts of the look and feel that can be customized.

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Posted in How-To, Twixl Publisher OS X app

Creating content for phones with Twixl Publisher 4.0

With the Twixl Publisher 4.0 plug-in, you can now create an alternate layout for phones in InDesign. In this article, we not only want to show you how to do that, but we’d also like to recommend the best practices we think you should keep in mind when converting tablet content to phones.

Alternate Layouts
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Posted in How-To

Twixl Publisher 4.0 is now available

What’s new in Twixl Publisher 4?

1. Support for publishing on phones

Twixl Publisher 4.0 for the first time lets you publish on phones (iPhone 4S, 5, 5S, 6 and 6 Plus, and Android phones running 4.0.3 or higher).

In InDesign you can create an alternate layout for phones, in addition to layouts for iPad and Android tablets.

Alternate Layouts

You can now choose to create tablet only, phone only or universal apps.

Build Type

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Posted in News