Apple have renounced all support for responsive magazine apps in a surprise move to focus on the future of Apple News.
According to well-placed sources in Apple’s California headquarters, the company is about to announce its decision to support only page-turning magazine apps in the future.
The company wants publishers to focus the distribution of their content as articles exclusively through its Apple News channel.
Apple is said to be planning to rescind all apps which deliver HTML and single articles and to only allow them to continue if they switch to publishing full-page magazine replicas. These, the company is understood to insist, must be an identical copy of the full print magazine.
It is not clear if this edict will also affect newspapers but, perhaps already aware of the move, The Times this week announced that it was withdrawing from publishing breaking-news articles and would instead focus on edition-based publishing in its tablet apps.
Apple disappointed publishers with its decision late last year to close its Newsstand magazine app publishing space when it opened Apple News. The News service was promised as an alternative showcase for publisher’s stories in which they could retain their branding and individual styling, as well as sell advertising associated with the articles.
Yesterday one off the leading tablet magazines, Stylist, announced that it was closing its tablet editions with immediate effect and would focus on Apple News among other outlets in future.
CEO of Shortlist Media, Stylist’s publisher, Mike Soutar said: “We’ve all been very proud of the success of the Stylist tablet edition which we’ve been publishing for the last two years. It has been a critical, commercial and technical success. In scale terms it’s easily been the most downloaded women’s magazine in the UK.
“The vast majority of downloads and readers have been on Apple devices, via the Apple Newsstand, but unfortunately when Apple changed their strategy and closed the Newsstand area on the Apple Store, publishers and readers were left without a dedicated marketplace to distribute, download and search editions.
“The world has changed enormously over the last two years and whilst the tablet was a unique way to distribute our award winning journalism…we have developed the back end capability to distribute to bigger new audiences on Apple News, Google Amp and, later this month, on Facebook Instant Articles.”
Publishers at some of the UK’s largest magazine publishers are understood to be considering following Shortlists’s lead. According to one the impact on pure HTML third party app providers could be significant, with one planning an exit from the app market to focus on its core business of publishing fiction instead.
American Publishers Association Ceo, April Prime, said: “If these rumours are true Apple is again demonstrating its disdain for magazine publishers and trying to force us to adopt a business model in its interests.”
But ABC spokesman Bob Quick, supported the move, saying: “We have long insisted that the print edition is the only true version of a publication and our members have supported that stance.
“It is well known that page-turning publications – in both print and digital – are the most favoured by readers and generate the largest profits for publishers.”
A spokesman at Apple’s Cupertino headquarters declined to comment.
EDIT: This was, of course, an April Fools. Not that we’d put it past Apple in the future. Thanks to all who were either taken in or got on board – we’ve thoroughly enjoyed the response!