Apple's iPad beating Kindle for news, but hurt by Amazon contracts

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited January 2014
Newspaper executives are reporting early success for iPad subscriptions, although their previous contracts related to Amazon's Kindle are affecting the price and content they are able to offer, reportedly leaving Steve Jobs angry.



News Corp's Rupert Murdoch reported in an earnings call that the company's Wall Street Journal app already has more than 64,000 active iPad users. The iPad app, like the newspaper's website, is free to access, while some content requires a new $18 subscription or an existing subscription to the print edition.



Amazon's Kindle has also been working to sign up digital subscribers to major newspapers, but insists on taking a cut of the subscription revenue, which Apple does not do. "Unlike the Kindle," Murdoch said, "we keep 100 percent of the revenue from the iPad."



Murdoch also announced, ?We?re in final discussions with a number of publishers, device makers and technology companies. We will soon develop an innovative subscription model to deliver digital content to consumers wherever and whenever they want it.? He later admitted that the new plan, which will be announced in about a month, will compete with Apple's iTunes store.



Steve Jobs not happy with New York Times iPad app



Meanwhile, a report by Gawker Media's Valleywag blog says Apple's chief executive is not impressed with the limited content available in the New York Times iPad app.



The app, named "NYT Editors' Choice," is also being panned in reviews by users because it only offers a limited subset of the Times content, excluding even free content available on the paper's website.



Valleywag reported, "we hear it's related to the newspaper's existing agreement for the Amazon Kindle, which apparently precludes the paper from releasing a cheaper, comparable e-edition on a competing tablet. Hence the non-comparable Editors' Choice app. The Times isn't alone on this; a number of other newspaper and book publishers are grappling with the same Kindle licensing issue."



Within the Times, executives are said to be grappling with how to price digital content, with people on the print side pushing for $20 to $30 digital subscriptions to avoid cannibalization of existing print revenues. On the digital side, there's an effort to keep the iPad subscription closer to $10.



That presents a problem related to the existing Kindle contract, which was hiked from $15 to $20 as the iPad arrived. Charging more than the current price of the Amazon Kindle could inhibit the new potential for real digital revenues, while attempts to undercut Amazon's pricing model would require further limiting of the iPad app's content as specified in Amazon's contracts.



The fact that the Times delivered an anemic version of its iPad app is said to have prompted Jobs to personally report his displeasure with the paper's senior executives. Apple has not profiled the "NYT Editor's Choice" app within its "noteworthy" or "favorite" app sections, nor added it to any featured listings of apps nor highlighted it as an app of the week.



Valleywag said Apple even omitted the app from iTunes' "News" section for weeks after the iPad launch until recently adding it without any special attention being accorded to it.



The app was originally hailed by Jobs as one of the first iPad apps during the device's original unveiling, but after it appeared lacking even some of the free content available on the paper's website, Apple has been giving it the cold shoulder, hoping the Times will act to bring it up to speed with the content in the simple Kindle version, while still offering news subscriptions at an attractive price to users.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 30
    stevetimstevetim Posts: 482member
    The Times better get the update out there or Steve Jobs will write another "Narayen" letter.
  • Reply 2 of 30
    Steve is very passionate about his products, but all this anger can't be good for his health.
  • Reply 3 of 30
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 33,407member
    Rupert, get your people on the ball.
  • Reply 4 of 30
    dr millmossdr millmoss Posts: 5,403member
    With all the ballyhoo, I couldn't imagine that the available NYT apps was the one Steve was so excited about. Turns out it isn't. By comparison, the NPR app is pretty good.
  • Reply 5 of 30
    kreshkresh Posts: 379member
    Apple should aggressively deal with this issue. Not having the NYT is not the end of the world, "The New York Times" is hardly the news outlet of record anymore since they just reprint wire stories now-a-days for national news.



    Apple should find three or four regional partners, the size of "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution", who want to be serious with the digital lifestyle. Apple should lend their expertise in building world class applications (like they are doing for iAd) and promote the heck out of them and just let NYT die. There are plenty of first rate news organizations out there that Apple could partner with to exploit "Paid News".
  • Reply 6 of 30
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 20,405member
    Both NYT and WSJ apps are good eye-candy, but shockingly limited, slow, and poorly implemented on the iPad. I have a WSJ subscription, but still a lot of content is locked. Navigation is unintuitive and you never really know where a flick of the finger will lead you. I can see why Jobs is disappointed.



    Advice: Stick to their regular websites on the iPad.



    Otoh, USA Today, BBC, NPR, AP, and Bloomberg are superbly implemented. Kudos to them. The Weather Channel is positively brilliant.
  • Reply 7 of 30
    interfxinterfx Posts: 7member
    I have all 3 apps (NYT, WSJ, and USAToday)... What I don't understand is why USAToday is free and works offline just fine... and NYT & WSJ seem to want to charge a premium for their news...



    the USAToday app is great, simple to use, fast, and works offline. It is perfect for downloading in the airport lounge, then reading it offlne on the plane...



    Sure, not the content of NYT, or WSJ but a very different business model (Free) with the normal ads that are in the paper...



    Others comments?
  • Reply 8 of 30
    paulmjohnsonpaulmjohnson Posts: 1,380member
    Steve Jobs vs. Rupert Murdoch is two impressively aggressive CEO's going at it!



    This could be interesting.
  • Reply 9 of 30
    papers and mags don't get it! they still are looking for alternatives. they are scared of the ipad when they should really embrace it. you gotta think people will want several mag and paper subscriptions if offered. why not offer them CHEAP?! paper maybe a dollar a week and mag maybe 99 cents ea. lower cost spurs volume. eliminate paper and printing and delivery and how much are they making on each issue anyway. price it so its an impulse/no brainer buy!
  • Reply 10 of 30
    christopher126christopher126 Posts: 4,366member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by poally dog View Post


    papers and mags don't get it! they still are looking for alternatives. they are scared of the ipad when they should really embrace it. you gotta think people will want several mag and paper subscriptions if offered. why not offer them CHEAP?! paper maybe a dollar a week and mag maybe 99 cents ea. lower cost spurs volume. eliminate paper and printing and delivery and how much are they making on each issue anyway. price it so its an impulse/no brainer buy!



    Yep...this is where it will end up anyway!
  • Reply 11 of 30
    bowserbowser Posts: 89member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    "we hear it's related to the newspaper's existing agreement for the Amazon Kindle, which apparently precludes the paper from releasing a cheaper, comparable e-edition on a competing tablet. Hence the non-comparable Editors' Choice app. The Times isn't alone on this; a number of other newspaper and book publishers are grappling with the same Kindle licensing issue."



    It seems Amazon better rethink their contract terms after those contracts expire, or they're going to find themselves without any takers for the Kindle. I'd wager it's already getting the snot beaten out of it by the iPad, so Amazon better sit up and take notice, especially with The Steve taking a personal interest in the issue.
  • Reply 12 of 30
    bowserbowser Posts: 89member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by christopher126 View Post


    Yep...this is where it will end up anyway!



    People will vote with their dollars... won't take long for the content providers to realize what the music industry had to learn the hard way.
  • Reply 13 of 30
    superbasssuperbass Posts: 688member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Bowser View Post


    People will vote with their dollars... won't take long for the content providers to realize what the music industry had to learn the hard way.



    That most bands can't earn a decent profit selling individual songs for 99 cents?



    That 128 kbps (now 160 kbps) might make iTunes' servers a lot cheaper to manage, but result in shit sound quality, which in turn decreases the emotional effect of music on people?



    That the loss of contact with a physical product causes people to value an item infinitely less?



    That offering partial content downloads causes the industry to focus more on hit songs than the album as an art form?



    That local artists/newspapers have no chance of getting the prime shelf space on iTunes/iBookstore that they used to be able get at physical stores because the big labels/publishing giants have deals with Apple?
  • Reply 14 of 30
    eriamjheriamjh Posts: 1,661member
    Why does the line "it makes Steve angry" sound like it is being said by Marvin the Martian?
  • Reply 15 of 30
    wiredzenwiredzen Posts: 2member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Superbass View Post


    That most bands can't earn a decent profit selling individual songs for 99 cents?



    That 128 kbps (now 160 kbps) might make iTunes' servers a lot cheaper to manage, but result in shit sound quality, which in turn decreases the emotional effect of music on people?



    That the loss of contact with a physical product causes people to value an item infinitely less?



    That offering partial content downloads causes the industry to focus more on hit songs than the album as an art form?



    That local artists/newspapers have no chance of getting the prime shelf space on iTunes/iBookstore that they used to be able get at physical stores because the big labels/publishing giants have deals with Apple?



    While I understand the "degrading" of sound you speak of, that is a distinction only audiophiles can discern - the average user never could tell the difference and obviously don't care. And I've still got records. Despite what people say about it being the "original" sound, it's scratchy, muffled, and warped. It's a needle on a piece of plastic. I'll take my 128 anyday.



    As for physical contact... I've been around long enough to remember when there was nothing but records - I've seen all the forms of music media basically - yet, I no less appreciate the music. In fact, because I can take it with me anywhere, I am more appreciative.



    As for singles... You've got an idealized - and false - sense of the music industry of the past. Hit singles have been the norm for so long it's pointless to discuss. Yes, there have always been concept albums, but all those hits from the 60s, 50s, 40s, and on were largely singles. If you think that the music world was filled with concept albums chock full of outstanding songs before iTunes then you don't know the history of music. Fillers have always existed.



    As for artists getting their due... Blame the record labels, not iTunes. At least with iTunes the chance for exposure is better than without. Before, if a record label didn't feel the urge to back an album/band through advertising, then the band/album was essentially dead in the water. And album sales, since the record labels gained power, have never been a big source of revenue for bands - touring and merchandise is where the money is found. It's the record labels that make the crappy contracts, not Apple. So, what's Apple's alternative? Offer a indie-only, local-band-oriented music store and shun the big labels? That would not be succesful because people buy popular music. That's why it's called popular. Your tastes may diverge from it, but it sells nonetheless. There are independent and creative ways for local musicians to sell; the web is a pretty free place. And it's not like iTunes shuns the unknowns. There have been many bands that never would have found success without iTunes exposure. It goes both ways.



    It is here, it is now, it is a part of the future. Sure tweaks need to be done. And Apple has been fighting the record labels for many years. It's not like they are comfortable bedfellows.
  • Reply 16 of 30
    carmissimocarmissimo Posts: 837member
    The model that could work, maybe, would be something patterned after how TV works. You pay a subscription and it entitles you to access to a variety of publications.



    You pay $15 a month, for example, and as a result access the content of any publication signed up for that service.



    There would be a perceived value in having many newspapers available for the cost of one subscription but to pay even $10 a month for a single paper isn't going to work. Most of us have grown accustomed to accessing multiple news sources and the notion that anyone would be willing to run up a bill of $40, $50, $60 a month for their news fix is absurd.
  • Reply 17 of 30
    aaarrrggghaaarrrgggh Posts: 1,609member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by interfx View Post


    I have all 3 apps (NYT, WSJ, and USAToday)... What I don't understand is why USAToday is free and works offline just fine... and NYT & WSJ seem to want to charge a premium for their news...



    the USAToday app is great, simple to use, fast, and works offline. It is perfect for downloading in the airport lounge, then reading it offlne on the plane...



    Sure, not the content of NYT, or WSJ but a very different business model (Free) with the normal ads that are in the paper...



    Others comments?



    The separate apps are the real failure; an integrated reader seems more effective. The subscription rates are a barrier, especially in the airport case where I can grab 3 print papers from the lounge for free.



    If the papers don't step it up, I'll just write a script to grab my Google News home page and stories into a single PDF. Does the ipad support bookmarks in PDFs?
  • Reply 18 of 30
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Superbass View Post


    That most bands can't earn a decent profit selling individual songs for 99 cents?



    That 128 kbps (now 160 kbps) might make iTunes' servers a lot cheaper to manage, but result in shit sound quality, which in turn decreases the emotional effect of music on people?



    That the loss of contact with a physical product causes people to value an item infinitely less?



    That offering partial content downloads causes the industry to focus more on hit songs than the album as an art form?



    That local artists/newspapers have no chance of getting the prime shelf space on iTunes/iBookstore that they used to be able get at physical stores because the big labels/publishing giants have deals with Apple?



    LOL...I don't have any issue with digital music, and I see plenty of bands embrace it...AND I'm old, which I'm assuming you are too...lighten up. I actually believe my choice of music is probably better than it EVER was with the old model.
  • Reply 19 of 30
    ilogicilogic Posts: 298member
    Okay for the newspapers, but not really okay for Amazon. Not the best way to outsmart Apple in the long run, the piper will come, and you know how that goes...



    /ominous
  • Reply 20 of 30
    krreagankrreagan Posts: 218member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Superbass View Post


    That most bands can't earn a decent profit selling individual songs for 99 cents?



    Then they need to change their antiquated business model and stop signing contracts with big over weight companies that need huge cash influx just to remain afloat! new times require a new business model!



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Superbass View Post


    That 128 kbps (now 160 kbps) might make iTunes' servers a lot cheaper to manage, but result in shit sound quality, which in turn decreases the emotional effect of music on people?



    The sound quality for me is fine. I don't claim to be a audiophile as I grew up on LP's, then 8-trac's then cassetts, then CD's and now digital. The analog recordings were much worse than the current 128/160kbps from iTunes so I'm fine with it!



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Superbass View Post


    That the loss of contact with a physical product causes people to value an item infinitely less?



    This is also fine with me! I don't need something in my hand! Actually I prefer it this way for convenience sake.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Superbass View Post


    That offering partial content downloads causes the industry to focus more on hit songs than the album as an art form?



    Again this is fine with me. I really don't want to purchase 10 songs just to listen to a few of them! If you want to sell the whole album as an art product, don't break it up into tracks! Sell the whole thing as one track.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Superbass View Post


    That local artists/newspapers have no chance of getting the prime shelf space on iTunes/iBookstore that they used to be able get at physical stores because the big labels/publishing giants have deals with Apple?



    I would love for Apple to add a "local" section to iTunes that allows me to look as selections that are from my local region (Denver, Co).



    Personally I think the Amazon contracts are anti-competitive and should be investigated as such. Having in your contract that someone cannot sell to someone else for a lesser price when the price is defined in your contract is anti-competitive. This smacks of MS's technique requiring a fee for each computer made even if it does not sell with a MS OS on it. In the long run it will only lead to the complete sinking of the Kindle.



    KRR
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