Why The New York Times did not sign up for Apple News+

Straight from the horses mouth (an article in the Times):

The New York Times and The Washington Post did not join the effort, despite intense lobbying from Apple. Mark Thompson, the chief executive of The Times, said the problem with the app, from his perspective, was how it “jumbled different news sources into these superficially attractive mixtures,” making it difficult for users to know which publication they’re consuming.

And from this Vanity Fair article:

Publishers hope they’ll get exposure to new audiences. But any potential new or existing direct subscriber to a publisher will no longer be willing to pay a healthy monthly fee to occasionally access that top content while supporting the rest of the newsroom. They’ll just cherry pick what they want via News+, and Apple will shave off a few cents for the publisher while owning all the data, customer relationship and power.”


That would appear to be the primary concern of the two major News+ holdouts: The New York Times and The Washington Post. Apple badly wanted to lock down at least one of them, and it began a vigorous courtship of the papers last spring, not long after the Texture deal closed and Apple’s plans for its content bundle were beginning to materialize, according to people familiar with the matter. “They put a tremendous amount of pressure on,” one source said. “Eddy Cue was in and out of their offices really trying to woo them.” Cue’s elevator pitch, according to people familiar with the discussions, was, “We’ll make you the most-read newspaper in the world.”


“We’ve been pretty deliberate about saying that the best place you can experience journalism is through a relationship with a news provider,” Meredith Kopit Levien, the Times’s chief operating officer, told me. “So far for us, that has meant a direct relationship with users. The more we have a relationship with users, the better we think our business will be, and the better the experience that we can provide to them.” Kris Coratti, a Post spokeswoman, said, “Our focus is on growing our own subscription base, so joining Apple News+ did not make sense for us at this point. Apple has been a very good partner—we will continue collaborating with them on other ongoing projects and expect to do many things with them in the future.”

My issues with Apple News+ all feel solvable. Like a great piece of hardware saddled with early beta software, you know a better experience is just an update away.

I think Apple News+ has huge potential. At its core is a commitment to privacy and the avoidance of fake news. Every single issue I have relates to interface.

Obviously, the issues keeping the Times and Post at arms length go beyond interface, to user data sharing and revenue split.

As Apple evolves the interface design, I think they’ll see an influx of new users. As that installed base of paying users grows, so grows Apple News+’s leverage. You’ll know they’ve truly succeeded when both the Washington Post and the New York Times come to the table.