Apple tries (again) to get a slice of the news pie
Apple is ditching its Newsstand app in favor of News, a feature that will in many ways resembles news-sharing startup Flipboard. What makes the app new for Apple is that news stories will be integrated directly into a stream instead of being hosted by outside news apps — as they were on Newsstand. In many ways, that puts Apple in direct competition with social networks such as Twitter and Facebook, which just released Instant Articles last month.
Users will be able to choose the publishers they want to receive news from, but the app will also gradually make content suggestions after learning reader preferences. This should help uncover more relevant content and give users another reason to turn to News instead of myriad competitors.
The announcement underscores the continued evolution of news presentation. Newspapers and new organizations no longer can be content to have readers come to their own sites — they have to seek out audiences where they are. That means hosting content directly on social sites such as Facebook and, now, mobile phones.
The integrated approach also speaks to the way consumer news preferences are changing. People don't want to have to click through a lot of links to get to the content they're after. They prefer to it all be laid out before them — and they can choose what to explore on a deeper level. The challenge for news organizations is to avoid being spread too thin. With staff and budget cuts in recent years, this will be particularly tough for local news sites. The winners are much more likely to be big national sites with more capital behind them.