Some publishers speaking anonymously with Digiday suggest that the early days of Apple News+ haven’t exactly been smooth sailing.
Complaints include teething problems with article formatting and design, as well as broader worries that Apple is favoring large publishers over smaller ones.
The report claims that smaller publishers are finding it hard to adjust to the new workflow needed for News+. Specifically, in order to get the magazines in the right format, “each issue needs to effectively be copy- and design-edited all over again, to ensure that design, formatting and spacing have come out in one piece, according to multiple sources.”
While larger publishers have the resources to design their own templates, smaller publishers have a tougher choice to make. Namely, they must either pour in money to an unproven format, or use an established template which means they don’t stand out. One other option is to, “wait things out with a PDF, and hope that having a different user experience doesn’t cost you readers.”
This has resulted in a user experience which is not entirely cohesive. Digiday‘s article notes that:
“In addition, some publishing sources say, there is frustration with Apple News+’s uneven user experience, with some publications splurging on custom design, and others simply uploading PDFs of their print issues. ‘You think of Apple, and they’re so design-conscious,’ a second source said. ‘This doesn’t feel like that at all.’”
A personal Slack room
Perhaps the most notable complaint, however, relates to Apple’s treatment of smaller publishers versus large ones. All publishers have email access to a team of Apple designers, who are able to answer questions. But a smaller group of big name publishers also have access to a Slack channel, which gives them much faster responses.
“‘They’re basically playing favorites,’ [one] source said. ‘It always seems to be good for the big guys, but not for the rest of us.’”
Give Apple the benefit of the doubt
Before jumping to conclusions, it’s important to give some benefit of the doubt to Apple. News+ is still a very new service, so early teething problems are to be expected.
The challenges of being a small publisher, competing against giants, is also the same whether you’re in print or digital. YouTube, for instance, gives its biggest (and therefore most lucrative) creators access to support that your typical YouTuber doesn’t have.
In the case of News+, some clients Apple actively had to seek out to get the service off the ground. Others are doing what your average app developer does: hopping on an Apple gold rush in hopes that it yields big results. To put it bluntly, they need Apple more than Apple needs them.
Hopefully over time some of these challenges can be addressed. News+ offers a great deal for users, which could help give the publishing industry the boost it needs. But just because you’ve got a tech giant on your side doesn’t mean things will be easy — as those who have run the numbers are fully aware.
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Source: Cult of Mac