by Steve Rosenbaum, Senior Advisor, Oaklins DeSilva+Phillips
Apple’s Eddy Cue doesn’t get out much. Unlike other media execs who can be seen on the tech conference circuit, Cue and his Apple colleagues play their cards close to the vest. And when they a keynote at SXSW, you can be sure they have something to say.
Cue is Apple’s SVP of Internet Software and Service, overseeing the iTunes Store, the iBooks Store, and Apple Music, as well as Apple Pay, Maps, iAd, iCloud services, and Apple’s growing footprint in video content,
At SXSW, Cue had two missions, and he delivered his message with a casual and confident tone and air of absolute assurance that they were arriving into a complicated market at precisely the right time. Apple doesn’t have to be first, but when they arrive in a product category – they want to be the best.
And now Apple is ready to have a real impact on News.
The title of his talk: “Curation in Media – Why It Matters.”
Cue seemed particularly proud of Apple News, a fast-growing but little-heralded news offering. Said Cue: “We’ve become a pretty decent-sized player in a short amount of time. We started with customers that were reading we’re following about four publishers in in Apple news a year ago today they follow more than 20, so there’s been tremendous growth in Apple News.”
What does he attribute the growth to? Curation.
“The key is to bring great articles from trusted sources; it’s about curation. We want the best articles we want them to look amazing, and we want them to be from trusted sources so that we don’t have a lot of the issues that have been going around in the marketplace” said Cue, with a not very veiled reference to the fake news issues that Facebook and YouTube are addressing.
Cue was clear about the many ways that Apple is not Facebook or YouTube. If they’re about user-generated content, Cue see’s Apple’s role, and social responsibility differently. It’s about quality, about filters and focus, and about taking responsibility for what gets into the Apple ecosystem.
“One of the things that we wanted to do with Apple News is not just provide the news that you want to read and one of the reasons we can do that is we’re not advertising focused – so Apple doesn’t make any money on advertising through Apple News.”
And with quality curated sources growing in the platform – thanks in part to the just announced acquisition of Texture, a magazine subscription service, Apple is happy to give users the ability to control what they see as they chose the sources that interest them.
“We wanted to create a little bit of serendipity a little bit of information so that you could see all of the different things that are out there and so we try not just to give you the most popular thing for you but some of the Articles that you should be reading that are in-depth, and we let you decide if you want to follow some of those sources.”
Curation and serendipity – says Cue: “I know when I used to read the paper you pick up the paper and you start reading it you’d always find article that if you had asked me ahead of time am I particularly interested in a topic I would have never identified that topic, and sometimes that’s getting lost now because we just want to give you only what you want and the same thing over and over.”
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“Tech is a great thing and makes humans more capable, but in and of itself it is not for good. People who make it, have to make it for good. We think when you have a large platform there’s a lot of responsibility and we’ve always taken a great deal of responsibility.”
Says Cue – “It’s all about curation, curation, curation.”
Suggests that they think that users are hungry – not for more of a feed of unfiltered news, but instead for a highly curated quality news experience.
Apple stands ready to deliver a quality Curated News product to meet users growing sense of digital overload.
Steve Rosenbaum has been at the forefront of internet video, creating five companies in the space. He is widely acknowledged as the father of User Generated Content or UGC. He holds two patents in the areas of video curation and video monetization technology. Rosenbaum created MTV’s groundbreaking user-generated news series MTV News UNfiltered, a first-of-its-kind television project that handed cameras to young storytellers. He is an author of Curation Nation / McGrawHill a book that set in place much of the thinking on current curation that is driving the video space today.