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Greg’s bite: Apple to fix newspapers

By Greg Mills

As I have mused in this space before, Apple has great expectations to develop digital download “go to market” systems that will revolutionize content publishing industries of all kinds. What they did to music with iTunes, they will do with books, newspapers, magazines, video games, software and movies.  

We see large chunks of that infrastructure already in operation. I don’t claim clairvoyance, but the iPad is the format of choice for things graphic, the iPod is the format of choice for things musical and the Apple TV is the device that will allow Apple to control the digital market place for video content and games.

The server farm going on line soon in West Virginia is going to hum soon, and the cash registers in cyberspace are going to sing! We have become used to software updates streaming in from the Apple servers linked to our system software. That same infrastructure is easily able to simply download Mac OS applications. The Mac OS Application store is clearly just waiting to happen.   

The problem Apple has to overcome in fixing newspapers, which are clearly in decline, is the unwillingness of Internet users to pay for things they can find for free elsewhere. Why pay for a subscription to a newspaper when you can go to thousands of news sites for free? The content will have to be much more compelling than free sites. Publishers of newspapers are mostly still stuck on the old system of subscriptions, advertising and the paper and ink content system. That has to be modified, and I think a lot of old school newspapers are doomed due to a reluctance to accept changes that partnering with Apple will bring.  

Who will online newspaper subscribers be doing business with? Apple says Apple; the papers say the papers. Someone is going to have to give in. If I had to bet on Steve Jobs giving in or newspapers facing bankruptcy being the ones to capitulate, my money is on Jobs. Ask anyone in the music industry or the movie industry. Jobs can go all day without blinking. He smiles, of course, sort of like the cat who just ate the mouse. 

Revolutionary changes in content delivery require a different economic model. The industry of yesteryear is only familiar with the system that is failing. They are scared spitless to give up  30% of the gross to Apple when they are used to surviving on much less than that. The problem is that publishers want to pocket the savings related to not having to print on dead trees and not having to pay the paper boy anymore to deliver the physical paper. Such thinking leads to greed and an unwillingness to rethink everything based upon an entirely different economic system.

The market decline in newspapers will continue as Steve Jobs fails to convert many sinking publishers who cling to outdated methods of operation.The big  question that can’t be answered yet is what will it take to get Internet consumers to pay for content? Many web sites fail due to the lack of revenue other than a paltry income from web ads. Finding a profit generating method that works is very hard for most web sites.  

Time will tell how all this shakes out as Jobs launches various content download marketing systems. The launch of iBooks, iTunes, movies, apps, advertising online and software are bound to be a bigger business than computers alone.  Apple Inc. shed the computer name a few years ago, and now we are beginning to see why. 

(Greg Mills, is a Faux Artist in Kansas City. Formerly a new product R&D man for the paint sundry market, he holds 11 US patents. He’s working on a solar energy startup, www.CottageIndustrySolar.com using a patent pending process of turning waste dual pane glass into thermal solar panels used to heat water. Greg writes for intellectual web sites and Mac related issues. See Greg’s art web site at www.gregmills.info ; His email is gregmills@mac.com )

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