Apple acquires e-magazine publishing firm Prss to bolster Newsstand [update: confirmed]

Posted:
in General Discussion edited September 2014
A report on Tuesday claims Apple has purchased erstwhile magazine app authoring firm Prss in what appears to be an "acquihire" for talent and resources.

Prss


According to a person familiar with the situation, Apple purchased the Netherlands-based Prss earlier this year, possibly after the firm announced a shutdown of services in July, reports Dutch language blog iCulture. Apple has since confirmed the purchase, saying, "Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans."

As AppleInsider reported in 2013, Prss developed and hosted a Web app that streamlined the process of creating and publishing digital magazines compatible with e-zine platforms like Apple's Newsstand. When the service launched early last year, the drag-and-drop interface and pricing structure showed promise in a field mostly devoid of intuitive publishing tools.

"We started our own software because we as a publisher felt screwed, and we also felt that the readers were screwed," Prss cofounder Michel Elings said at the time.

Apple confirmed the rumored buyout to TechCrunch, but would not comment on the deal's specifics. Elings' LinkedIn profile says he now works out of Palo Alto, Calif, while former Prss employees are now said to be working in the San Francisco area.

The roles Elings and company will take on at Apple are also unknown, but it can be assumed that at least part of their job entails work on Newsstand or Apple's in-house publication tool iBooks Author.

When Prss first launched, Elings called it "the software Apple forgot to make." It seems Apple has remedied the situation.

Update: Apple has confirmed the buy to TechCrunch, offering the usual boilerplate statement, "Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans."

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 17
    There is still a lot of room for improving the e-book creation process. Alex Lindsay (from Pixel Corps) was an early outspoken advocate for Apple on this and was very disappointed with their follow up.
  • Reply 2 of 17
    There is still a lot of room for improving the e-book creation process. Alex Lindsay (from Pixel Corps) was an early outspoken advocate for Apple on this and was very disappointed with their follow up.

    Hey that's interesting. I have a Pixelcorps Tshirt... I used to be a member a long time ago, they had good tutorials. They were first to recognize the value of Twitter, right when it had just been born. Alex seems to be in the know pretty early for some stuff.
    So I gather they are still around? Will have to look them up again. How do you know of them?
  • Reply 3 of 17
    calicali Posts: 3,495member
    I'm waiting for the iPad to have an e-ink mode with color. So it goes from bright screen to color magazine print.
  • Reply 4 of 17
    pazuzupazuzu Posts: 1,728member
    There is still a lot of room for improving the e-book creation process. Alex Lindsay (from Pixel Corps) was an early outspoken advocate for Apple on this and was very disappointed with their follow up.

    I'm surprised Apple never took on eReaders on their own either as a device. The new Kindle Voyage looks awesome and is sold out until December. It's looks like a great device and the concept is much like the iPod was to music. Both killed their respective industries too.
  • Reply 5 of 17
    snovasnova Posts: 1,281member

    nice choice of photos.

  • Reply 6 of 17
    I will love this if it means an actual magazine format that could be downloaded to the computer or iOS devices, saves for later rereading, take notes if it's a journal etc
  • Reply 7 of 17
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,460member
    I lv th stff thy mk wth Prss. My fvrt mbl mgzn s md wth t. Ths s gd nws.
  • Reply 8 of 17
    [quote name="pazuzu"
    I'm surprised Apple never took on eReaders on their own either as a device. The new Kindle Voyage looks awesome and is sold out until December. It's looks like a great device and the concept is much like the iPod was to music. Both killed their respective industries too.[/quote]

    Sorry, but I'm not surprised. For Apple to make a device that's only for reading books and magazines and nothing else it would have to be priced too low. Apple doesn't do "cheap"
    And it would appear from the fancier Kindle models that there is a huge market for tablets that aren't just e-readers, though of course there are still plenty of people who want a cheap e-reader.

    What are the "respective industries" that the Kindle and iPod killed??
  • Reply 9 of 17
    crowleycrowley Posts: 6,065member

    Is there any point in Newsstand any more?  All of the advantages it launched with have now been absorbed into the regular app store, making it seem to be nothing more than a folder that a user can't delete and has less power over than a regular folder.  Might as well just kill it.

  • Reply 10 of 17
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,232moderator
    crowley wrote: »
    Is there any point in Newsstand any more?  All of the advantages it launched with have now been absorbed into the regular app store, making it seem to be nothing more than a folder that a user can't delete and has less power over than a regular folder.  Might as well just kill it.

    I like the concept as I wouldn't want an app per publication but having a paywall for every magazine means my Newsstand is empty. Google has made their Newsstand app available for iOS now:

    http://www.theverge.com/2014/9/23/6834497/google-play-newsstand-now-available-ios

    It has a better setup in that you can add all sorts of feeds and blogs into it as well as paid media:


    [VIDEO]


    Having a paywall is bad for media discoverability and why I prefer Netflix over iTunes for the majority of viewing. I get that publications all want their cut of the money but the reality is that people don't have such narrow areas of interest that a single publication would be enough and they are padded out with so much fluff. The way forward IMO is the way that blogs work where authors come up with a compelling article and sell it to multiple blogs. They aren't curating a magazine, they are coming up with a story. Multiple authors across different subjects do the same and you get a massive pool of articles across multiple areas of interest. On the web, it sucks trying to pull it all together because they are hosted at different domains. An app like Newsstand can bring it together. I use RSS feeds just now to do it but it doesn't remember which articles I've been interested in before so it can't highlight future articles I'll be interested in and there are no visual layouts, it's just a list of article titles. I'll maybe give the Google one a try but I prefer to read news on the Mac too.
  • Reply 11 of 17
    crowleycrowley Posts: 6,065member
    So you think Newsstand should become the app that Apple uses as a publisher/aggregator of news?

    I suppose that's a decent idea, but it's a radical departure from what Newstand is now, which is just a special, undeleteable and less modifiable folder for a particular kind of app.
  • Reply 12 of 17
    Marvin wrote: »
    I like the concept as I wouldn't want an app per publication but having a paywall for every magazine means my Newsstand is empty. Google has made their Newsstand app available for iOS now:

    http://www.theverge.com/2014/9/23/6834497/google-play-newsstand-now-available-ios

    It has a better setup in that you can add all sorts of feeds and blogs into it as well as paid media:


    [VIDEO]


    Having a paywall is bad for media discoverability and why I prefer Netflix over iTunes for the majority of viewing. I get that publications all want their cut of the money but the reality is that people don't have such narrow areas of interest that a single publication would be enough and they are padded out with so much fluff. The way forward IMO is the way that blogs work where authors come up with a compelling article and sell it to multiple blogs. They aren't curating a magazine, they are coming up with a story. Multiple authors across different subjects do the same and you get a massive pool of articles across multiple areas of interest. On the web, it sucks trying to pull it all together because they are hosted at different domains. An app like Newsstand can bring it together. I use RSS feeds just now to do it but it doesn't remember which articles I've been interested in before so it can't highlight future articles I'll be interested in and there are no visual layouts, it's just a list of article titles. I'll maybe give the Google one a try but I prefer to read news on the Mac too.

    There's an idea. A Netflix-like news subscription service that aggregates everything in one portal.
  • Reply 13 of 17
    elrothelroth Posts: 1,201member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post



    I lv th stff thy mk wth Prss. My fvrt mbl mgzn s md wth t. Ths s gd nws.

    I have some vowels for sale cheeeeaaaap.

  • Reply 14 of 17
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,232moderator
    crowley wrote: »
    So you think Newsstand should become the app that Apple uses as a publisher/aggregator of news?

    Yes, I think they should promote the idea of articles standing alone rather than magazines and newspapers. Magazines are compiled the way they are in the physical world because that's the only way they work. You wouldn't walk all the way to a magazine stall for a single page. So all they've done is take the entire magazine concept and put it into the digital world and it doesn't work very well because the delivery and expectations are entirely different. The constraints of the physical world are gone. When you read news online like here at AI, you don't expect to find a whole newspaper, just a handful of meaningful stories per day with no filler material. You can browse as many or as few sites, each with their own stories.

    Businesses would be right to be hesitant of an aggregate model because their value would be solely in their content and they won't have their own subscriber base for reliable revenue projections even if their content is lacking. They need to take scale into account though, which is where free-to-play games have taken off. There's a list of magazines by subscribers here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_magazines_by_circulation#United_States

    Some are magazines being sent to subscribers of services rather than the magazines themselves but Game Informer is a paid magazine and has a circulation of 7.6m in the US and is around $20 per year:

    http://www.gamestop.com/books-magazines/strategy-guides/game-informer-12-month-subscription/28788

    In revenue, that would mean they take in ~$152m per year from the magazine. This is shown in their 10K filing but they merge the revenues with DLCs and other things. The following site estimated the entire US magazine market to be worth around $25b:

    http://www.adweek.com/news/press/consumer-magazine-market-predicted-shed-13b-2017-150014

    This doesn't sound accurate given the subscriber base numbers but some subscriptions will cost more than others and there's advertising revenue too.

    One way to go would be to pay publishers up-front for their content like Netflix and then recoup the money in subscriptions by offering all the content to subscribers. I don't think that's a particularly fair way to do it because it means content publishers are setting the prices and not the consumer. Another way would be to get publishers to agree to put their articles in the feed and the subscription revenue after Apple's fee would be distributed based on article popularity. Perhaps it can be a mix of both so that big publishers know they'll get recurring revenue but still need to offer good articles to get the higher amount of subscription revenue on top.

    Apple doesn't have to do deals with every publication in existence but they can allocate $1b per year for content deals and start with the more popular magazines to draw in the large subscriber bases. Then they can have a $5/month subscription that gives you articles from all those magazines and you just curate the articles to your own interests. To break-even, they just need 17m subscribers out of 500-800m iTunes users. When they get more revenue, they expand the content selection. Everyone still has a magazine subscription to pay but just one and there's no restrictions, you just pick whatever your interests are. Newspapers would get in on it too and you'd get all sorts of extra media you wouldn't get in a physical publication like videos, audio, photos you can save, interactive animations. They do this with their digital publications already but it's far easier when offering individual articles and not having to compile a big monthly magazine.

    To encourage subscribers, there would be some free news content like being able to add blogs, RSS, maybe iAd supported content etc and becoming a subscriber is just an IAP per month.
  • Reply 15 of 17

    I read your post. After carefully reviewing the post , I think it would be helpful for general public of various country.

     

    I like this kind of concept and I hope that everyone like this.

     

      http://www.city-data.com/forum/asia/2161956-http-209-236-68-39-click.html

  • Reply 16 of 17
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by palomine View Post





    Hey that's interesting. I have a Pixelcorps Tshirt... I used to be a member a long time ago, they had good tutorials. They were first to recognize the value of Twitter, right when it had just been born. Alex seems to be in the know pretty early for some stuff.

    So I gather they are still around? Will have to look them up again. How do you know of them?

     

    Cool. Yeah, first heard of Alex back when the very first TWiT (This Week In Tech) was being put together and have tuned in for his various podcasts, along with the rest of the TWiT folks for years.

     

    Pixel Corps is still around and they are doing quite well. I know Alex has recently put on Google Hangouts for the White House and even for the Vatican, if you can believe that. He's done pretty well for himself.

  • Reply 17 of 17
    elroth wrote: »
    I lv th stff thy mk wth Prss. My fvrt mbl mgzn s md wth t. Ths s gd nws.
    I have some vowels for sale cheeeeaaaap.

    I guess you purloined them from Wales.
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