Some Publishers Reportedly Experiencing ‘Early Headaches’ with Apple News+ Launch

Apple News+ is already causing headaches for some of its participating publishers.

According to a new report from Digiday, several publishers are already having issues with Apple News+ even though the service has only been available for less than a month. Among the early problems participating publishers are facing include article formatting, losing digital ad campaigns, and Apple’s alleged unfair treatment of smaller companies.

Five participating publishers spoke with Digiday and shared some information about the “early headaches” they’re experiencing with the launch of the service. Their conclusion: Apple’s focus is more on making money from aggregating content than on providing consistent experiences for either users or publishers.

For one, publishers have run into serious problems formatting articles for the app, explains the report. Apple hasn’t fully followed through on promises to provide some publishers with article templates that will pop in the News app, and there are bugs in the tools that are supposed to turn print magazine pages into News-ready articles and ads:

Added work tops the list of several publishers’ complaints. Most of the publishers that want to convert pages from their print issues into a digital format rely on tools which scan PDFs, then converts their contents into individual articles and advertisements. The technology is buggy enough that each issue needs to effectively be copy- and design-edited all over again, to ensure that design, formatting and spacing have come out in one piece, according to multiple sources. And because they are standardized, these tools make it harder to distinguish one publisher’s content from another, sources said.

Additionally, while all publishers in the program have been provided with an email address to send pitches to for design help, a select group of publishers has been provided access to a private Slack channel:

But a smaller, select group of publishers were invited to join a private Slack channel where they could connect with Apple more directly, a move that exasperated several sources when they were informed of the channel’s existence. “They’re basically playing favorites,” that first source said. “It always seems to be good for the big guys, but not for the rest of us.”

As a result, some of the publications featured in Apple News+ are simply submitting magazines in PDF format, while others are choosing the expense of effectively copy and design-editing all of their content a second time for News+ — even though it’s impossible to know how much money they’ll make from Apple’s audience.

In the end, the report says that these early issues plaguing Apple News+ “do not bode well for its long-term future unless Apple adapts its approach.”

In related news, Apple News+ has seen over 200,000 subscribers already sign up to the iOS news app in the first 48 hours it was available.