Apple is the greatest chess player on Earth. They make the best and most calculated moves, offensive and defensive. Sometimes they release a new product or feature and most people are confused, unsatisfied, or disgruntled, failing to see the long term play. Then the following year or so, Apple releases another product or feature and it all makes sense. Their master plan is revealed.
In the context of the default News app that’s shipping with iOS 9, Apple is finally putting the last pieces in place for a circle of products, features, and developer technologies that could put a solid dent in the bottom line of companies built on web based advertising business models.
Apple is building on chess moves they’ve made since the release of the iPhone. The iPhone, like all of Apple, is a walled garden. Apple controls the default web browser, Safari, in addition to the entire user experience. Features like “Limit Ad Tracking” and others have been a part of iOS for a bit, but with iOS 9, Apple is releasing a new feature called Content Blocking that will ship with Safari and that is accessible by developers in the new Safari View Controller.
The big idea behind Content Blocking is that it’s possible to add something to the experience of viewing a webpage by taking something away.
– Classic Apple marketing. Ricky Mondello from Introducing Safari View Controller, Session 504, WWDC 2015.
After Apple’s announcement of its default news reader app, “News” that’s shipping with iOS 9, I learned that publishers will be able to monetize their News content using iAd.
Monetization is made simple with iAd, Apple’s advertising platform. Earn 100% of the revenue from ads you sell, and 70% when iAd sells ads for you. iAd provides campaign management, targeting and reporting capabilities that help drive your business.
Just one week prior to WWDC 2015 and the announcement of News, Tim Cook gave what Matthew Panzarino of Tech Crunch called a “Blistering Speech” on encryption and privacy. In that speech, Cook implicitly attacked companies like Google and Facebook when he stated:
I’m speaking to you from Silicon Valley, where some of the most prominent and successful companies have built their businesses by lulling their customers into complacency about their personal information,” said Cook. “They’re gobbling up everything they can learn about you and trying to monetize it. We think that’s wrong. And it’s not the kind of company that Apple wants to be.
– Tim Cook; Source: TechCrunch
On the one hand, Apple is taking on the role of the defender of Privacy, publicly saying that it does not sell its user’s data. On the other hand, Apple has simultaneously created a new platform that will allow publishers to monetize using targeted ads from Apple’s iAd platform. At first, this made Apple seem hypocritical, but after further thought, research, and analysis, I’ve come to realize that my initial feelings were mostly wrong.