Apple buys a $9.99-a-month magazine subscription service

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Texture
Could this be the Apple Music for magazines?
Photo: Apple

Apple is moving into magazine distribution by acquiring Texture, a digital subscription service that grants users unlimited access to their favorite titles for a single $9.99 monthly fee.

The service, which could be thought of as Apple Music for magazines, covers 200 top magazines. These can be read either in their complete form or via curated articles.

“We are committed to quality journalism from trusted sources and allowing magazines to keep producing beautifully designed and engaging stories for users,” Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of internet software and services, said in a statement.

It is not clear just how much Apple paid for Texture. The subscription service previously raised $90 million, which should offer some indication of the price Apple paid.

Texture launched in 2010 as a collaboration among publishers including Condé Nast, Hearst, Meredith, Rogers Media and KKR. In 2016, the App Store editorial team included Texture in its annual “Best Of” selections, which celebrate the most innovative apps and games for iOS users.

The audience for a magazine subscription service like this is likely tiny compared to Apple Music. (Texture, dubbed “the Netflix of magazines,” has hundreds of thousands of subscribers, as opposed to Apple Music’s millions).

Still, it makes sense as an acquisition for Apple. Since the earliest days of the iPad, Apple has been enthusiastic about publishing. One of the apps Steve Jobs was most excited about was The Daily, a short-lived, iPad-exclusive newspaper that was the first subscription app Apple offered.

More recently, Apple launched Apple News, which hasn’t exactly set the world on fire. With Amazon’s Jeff Bezos buying The Washington Post several years ago, there’s a trend for tech companies to absorb or partner with traditional media outlets.

Will Texture help Apple in these ambitions? We’ll have to wait and see.