iTunes not a money maker and wouldn’t be for news

The other day, I spent a good half an hour jotting down my idea as to what an “iTunes for news” would really look like. Now, after reading a post by Pat Thornton, I’m starting to think I wasted my time.

Thornton points out that Apple has stated that iTunes doesn’t turn a huge profit. The program and the store serve a larger purpose: to get people to buy iPods, a produce on which Apple makes a bigger profit.

So we could assume that a similar online store model for journalism would also not turn much of a profit. So why do it? What about the economic side of journalism is it going to save? What more profitable product will the iTunes for news drive consumers to buy?

Also, a new thought, with most of the country’s journalism collected in one, easy to search spot, censorship would become damnably easy. Not good for the health of a democracy, if you ask me.


3 thoughts on “iTunes not a money maker and wouldn’t be for news

  1. Q: What can newspapers sell? A: Anything their readers will buy.

    I found this at the Buzz Machine:
    “When I was last in London, I was shocked to hear that the Telegraph makes a third of its profits from merchandise sales: wine, garden sheds, and hangers (honestly). The Wall Street Journal has started selling wine.”

  2. I agree that newspapers can sell anything they want to to make a bit of extra money, but that sort of secondary market exists for iPods and iTunes as well (with all the accessories and addons and gidgets and gizmos you can buy).

    I'm still wondering, if we take the iTunes model and apply it straight to newspapers and assume that the “iTunes for news” is meant as a gateway to get people to buy some more expensive product, what would that product be? Could we see a partnership between major news companies and an eInk reader manufacturer? Between the MSM and Amazon's Kindle, Sony's eReeader?

  3. If the report I quoted is correct, stuff accounts for 1/3 of its profits for the Telegraph. Not sure about the “bit of extra money” bucket.

    Consider the NYT. They probably have the highest percentage of readers, as opposed to scanners, of any mass market newspaper. Instead of just doing the book review, why not curate the best books. And sell those books to their readers.

    Channel conflict? Not likely in a world of BN and Amazon. My sense is publishers, most especially the publishers of “serious” non fiction would have cheap access to their audience. I wouldn't be surprised if NYT could own the serious non fiction sales channel. Maybe a branded channel at Amazon? or at B&N? or even best (from my POV) do an deal with independent bookstores. Buy at NYT website, pick up at your local bookstore. The tech is not that hard any more. Imagine book ptiches that go with relevent news stories. or NYT people pushing their own titles.

    Sounds like win-win-win to me.

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