Apple announced today that it is acquiring digital magazine distributor Texture from Next Issue Media, a company owned by magazine publishers Condé Nast, Hearst, and Meredith; telecom Rogers Media; and investment company KKR. Texture offers an all-you-can-eat subscription pass to over 200 magazines for a monthly fee. Were excited Texture will join Apple, said Eddy Cue, Apples senior vice president of internet software and services, along with an impressive catalog of magazines from many of the worlds leading publishers. We are committed to quality journalism from trusted sources and allowing magazines to keep producing beautifully designed and engaging stories for users. Apple has struggled with the digital magazine business since introducing the iPad in 2010. Originally heralded as a breakthrough for the struggling magazine industry, the iPad was pitched to publishers as a bold new format for print and online articles, and soon offered a Newsstand feature specific to digital magazines and newspapers. Fights between Apple and publishers over everything from revenue sharing to subscriber data led Newsstand to languish and eventually disappear from iOS devices. It was replaced by News, an app that focuses on aggregating news articles from sources across the internet. Though Next Issues service has been offered since the early days of the iPad and reportedly still has yet to attract over a million subscribers, Texture could enable Apple to monetize some of the News content and spotlight specific publishers. Apples press release characterizes it as the leading multi-title subscription service giving users the ability to instantly access some of the most widely read magazines while on the go. Its unclear whether the services $10 monthly pricing and publication list will remain the same or change following the acquisition. At SXSW today, Apples Cue spoke onstage about the acquisition, saying that Apple plans to integrate Textures content into the News app; scattered reports have suggested for two years that Apple was considering a paid subscription offering within News. Cue suggested that Apples goal is to promote trusted sources, and thereby avoid the fake news articles that have gained traction in recent times, a topic that Cue and Apple CEO Tim Cook notably spotlighted one year ago at an industry conference.
It's a bid to keep magazines relevant in the internet era. Apple's bids to promote digital magazines haven't always been fruitful (remember The Daily?), but it's about to give them another boost. The company has acquired Texture, the Netflix-style magazine subscription service that gives you access to a host of publications for a flat monthly fee. Apple wasn't specific about its intentions for the Texture team, but the deal reflects its commitment to "quality journalism from trusted sources." It also noted that the buyout gave it an "impressive catalog" of magazines -- the connection to major publishers (Conde Nast, Hearst, Meredith and News Corp) may be as important as the service itself. The terms of the deal haven't been made public, although Recode understood that investors who pumped $50 million into Texture owner Next Issue Media will "get their money back. " The publishers are reportedly happy, too. We've asked Apple what will happen to Texture's existing apps and service. The software is currently available across a variety of platforms, including Android and Windows 10. Apple doesn't always discontinue apps right away (it kept HopStop running for two years), but it has been known to scale back and eventually discontinue services as it integrates their features. Apple's Eddy Cue is expected to discuss the Texture purchase at SXSW, and we'll let you know if he has more to add. It's not certain if this will augment the company's existing services (such as the News app or iBooks) or will lead to something entirely different, but this could significantly change the nature of online magazine distribution. Heavyweight publishers launched Next Issue and Texture in 2012 precisely to take control of digital magazines rather than handing the reins to companies like Apple or Google. The deal brings that plan to an end -- Apple will now play a major role in the fate of those magazines.