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WSJ: Apple Sees New Money in Old Media

There have been rumors ad nausea about the supposed tablet that Apple will unveil next week. While fun, I have not posted any here because I felt they were too unsubstantiated. I make an exception for the Wall Street Journal – which tends to be the mainstream media outlet of choice for Apple to intentionally leak info. According to the WSJ, Apple is negotiating with “old media” – newspapers, publishers, movie studios – in an effort to do with old media content what the iPod did for the music industry.

Apple has recently been in discussions with book, magazine and newspaper publishers about how they can work together. The company has talked with New York Times Co., Condé Nast Publications Inc. and HarperCollins Publishers and its owner News Corp., which also owns The Wall Street Journal, over content for the tablet, say people familiar with the talks.

New York Times Chairman Arthur Sulzberger declined to comment in an interview Wednesday on its involvement in the new device except to say, “stay tuned.”

Apple is also negotiating with television networks such as CBS Corp. and Walt Disney Co., which owns ABC, for a monthly TV subscription service, the Journal has reported. Apple is also working with videogame publisher Electronic Arts Inc. to show off the tablet’s game capabilities, according to one person familiar with the matter.

I also notice several announcements by Amazon, which I speculate MUST be getting some backdoor information from publishers about Apple’s plans because it’s making rapid pre-Apple product announcement announcements of their own. For instance, yesterday I reported a new royalty option split with publishers for e-books. The pricing structure (a 70-30% split) is very similar to Apple’s app store split with developers. Today they have announced a Kindle Development Kit which gives developers and publishers “access support, test content on Kindle, and submit finished content” to be released sometime in the future.

There is definitely something afoot. The question will be if Apple can pull off an iPod-like change in the media industries that truly benefits creators.

Community Comments

#1 Jeff Pert
January/21/2010
@ 11:31 am

My money’s w/ Apple. It sounds like the tablet will blow the Kindle and its ilk out of the water. Jobs is really good at looking at the big picture (TV as well as print, etc., in this case), vs. just print, which i believe is all the Kindle’s capable of. The implications for cartooning could be huge.

But then, I’ve been wrong before.

#2 Anne Hambrock
January/21/2010
@ 11:58 am

I am hoping this will bring the micropayment system I’ve been advocating to fruition in the media world beyond music.

Ultimately, instead of having an itunes account, I can envision a world where everyone has an account – let’s call it “icash” – that they can use for all digital media. Then relegate paypal to merchandise only or something.

This won’t stop those who like free content from finding ways around the system, but it could tap into a pretty big market of people who don’t mind paying for quality content. The key will be to make sure there is plenty of content worth paying for.

#3 Stacy Curtis
January/21/2010
@ 12:55 pm

We are living in interesting times.

#4 Stacy Curtis
January/21/2010
@ 12:56 pm

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times …

#5 Stephen Beals
January/21/2010
@ 1:53 pm

Everyone’s hoping Apple will pull another itunes success with printed media, and considering the success of itunes took many by surprise I can see why.

I’ll wait and see.

If Danielle Steele’s fans leap on this it may be a good sign.

#6 Tom Racine
January/21/2010
@ 2:04 pm

Justin Thompson said it a long time ago…”iToons.” Let’s hope it comes true.

#7 Tony Piro
January/21/2010
@ 3:26 pm

I don’t get the iTunes analogy. I’ll listen to a song many more times than how often I’ll read a comic collection.

#8 Tom Wood
January/21/2010
@ 3:44 pm

Maybe iTunes sells ‘keys’ that get you into the pay-walled section of certain sites?

#9 Anne Hambrock
January/21/2010
@ 4:54 pm

“I donâ??t get the iTunes analogy. Iâ??ll listen to a song many more times than how often Iâ??ll read a comic collection.”

That’s why an overall account with a micropayment system would be crucial. If you pay 99 cents for one song that you can listen to over and over, maybe you pay only 1 cent per day for something you’re going to breeze by daily. For a feature that has a loyal daily following big enough, that 1 cent would add up.

#10 Stephen Beals
January/21/2010
@ 6:35 pm

iToons! That’s great. Sounds better than iStrip.

Audiobooks are popular and are typically listened to once. Perhaps that’s a better analogy. audible.com is great.

Comic collections are still sold, whether they’re digital or not. An itunes-like store would just make it easier and you would finally have a wide selection that would make impulsive buying more likely.

Considering the big book chains have everything ever published by five cartoonists and nothing else, I don’t think anybody is impulsively purchasing any comic collections like they used to.

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