- Apple plans to shut down Texture, the digital magazine app that it acquired last year as the basis for its new Apple News Plus service that started last week. The May 28 shutdown will leave subscribers who use rival platforms such as Google's Android and Amazon’s Fire HD without service, per TechCrunch.
- Apple is urging Texture subscribers to switch to Apple News Plus, which provides access to digital versions of print magazines and curated stories from newspapers like The Wall Street Journal for a flat fee of $9.99 a month. The price is unchanged from Texture's monthly fee.
- Apple hasn't announced whether it will release a version of Apple News Plus for rival devices. The company last week said its Apple TV streaming service that will roll out in the fall will work on video streaming devices and connected TVs made by competitors, but omitted any mention of Google's Android.
The platform wars among tech giants and makers of electronics like Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft and Samsung have extended into content as the companies seek ways to strengthen their ties with consumers, especially in light of Apple's new, mostly ad-free services rollout. It's not clear how many readers Apple will lose by closing down Texture and not creating an Android and Fire version of Apple News Plus, but the move may give Texture’s fans another reason to switch to iOS by buying an iPhone or iPad to read news and information. Apple already shut down the Windows app version of Texture last July.
The loss of Android-based readership may disappoint publishers like Condé Nast and Meredith, and their advertisers that reach audiences through the Texture versions of their content. Texture in 2016 said it had "hundreds of thousands" of subscribers, although the breakdown among Android and iOS users wasn't disclosed. Sprint in 2016 began pre-installing Texture's app on Android phones it sold. Apple this year said it had 85 million active users of Apple News, its digital news aggregator that's available for free on its mobile devices.
Apple prioritizes hardware sales, and its fast-growing services business is geared toward boosting the value of iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches and Mac computers. However, services like Apple News Plus, Apple TV, Apple Arcade and Apple Pay can extend their reach by being available on rival platforms like Android. Apple Music and its Beats Pill speakers both have Android apps, while iTunes has a Windows version that synchs with iPhones, as TechCrunch notes. Apple also plans to create an Apple TV app for streaming devices such as Amazon Fire TV and Roku, and for connected TVs made by LG, Samsung and Vizio.
Apple’s services business — which includes the App Store, Apple Music, Apple Pay and iCloud storage — is a key part of diversifying revenue from the iPhone, which makes up about two-thirds of its revenue. Services revenue grew 19% to $10.88 billion during the three months ended Dec. 29 from a year earlier. That growth puts the company on track to reach its of annual goal of $50 billion in services revenue by next year.