Remember the Texture magazine subscription app that Apple bought this spring for an undisclosed sum? According to a recent Bloomberg report, the “Netflix for magazines” app will be getting a refresh that could launch as early as next spring. The app will be a premium product within the Apple News app, and it will be available for a single price rather than the two-tiered plan that Texture had previously featured.
This was part of the plan from the beginning – Apple would purchase Texture to add another revenue stream to its lines of business. To sweeten the deal to make it more attractive to publishers, Apple would share a portion of the related subscription revenue with publishers, reported Bloomberg, and to make the deal more profitable, Apple laid off about 20 Texture staff at the time of the acquisition.
Currently, Texture offers subscribers access to more than 200 magazines including Vanity Fair, Martha Stewart Living, Esquire, National Geographic, Parents, Time, Fast Company, The New Yorker, This Old House and Architectural Digest. Subscribers to the existing Texture app pay $9.99 a month, after a seven-day free trial and downloading the app from the App Store, Amazon Appstore or Google Play.
What will be different in the new version of Texture is that Apple plans to include news from some high-profile news organizations like The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times to the mix. A redesign is also being planned, so that the magazines won’t simply be digital reproductions of the print product, says Bloomberg. Offering such a mixture of content could be attractive to publishers who will have the opportunity to be seen on more than 1 billion iOS devices.
On the downside, it is possible that news publishers will be cannibalizing their existing subscriber base. For example, I subscribe to half a dozen print magazines and a digital edition of The New York Times. One Texture subscription would cost less than my monthly subscription fee for The Times alone; why would I continue to subscribe to The Times and my magazines when I could get them all for just $9.99 a month? The Times would likely only get a share of my $9.99 a month, and they might lose direct access to my personal data (e.g., how many times I log in, my email address, my mailing address) and, therefore, lose out on other marketing opportunities.
Honestly, we don’t see a significant benefit here. Existing Texture subscribers are already paying $9.99 a month, so they will get access to new news content, but if they are already paying for the product, this is just a bonus. From Apple’s perspective, the acquisition already gave them a new revenue stream. If they aren’t changing the price, and they are considering sharing revenue with publishers, they aren’t making much, if any, progress. From a publisher’s perspective, a news outlet might get in front of a new audience, but it could also potentially lose existing subscribers. So far, there aren’t any immediate benefits evident. If I were any one of the three key stakeholders – Apple, consumers or publishers – I’d want to see something new, different and exciting before I’d bank on it.