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Apple's iOS9 could be good news for your public relations

Big news is afoot over at the world’s most valuable brand, arriving not so long after the technology giant inspired another of our blog posts, which looked at how companies that don’t have billions in the bank should judge their own worth.
So Apple stole the throne back from Google in terms of brand value last month, with the iPhone 6 and Apple Watch amongst the key reasons sales were booming and everyone was once again talking about the Californian big gun. Not content to rest on their laurels, the boffins have taken it upon themselves to continue making headlines this week due to emerging details regarding two major new launches.
First up, we have Apple Music, a streaming service that has just been introduced that has got many a commentator excited. Pegged to rival the struggling Tidal, Google Play and king of the ring Spotify, even in comparison to the weakest of those names this latest addition to the increasingly competitive sector has some work to do. Nevertheless, Apple has deep enough pockets to plough plenty into the enterprise, meaning we’re not holding our breath waiting for it to fall on its face, just yet.
Still, critics have been right to point out that Spotify already has 20million paying subscribers, up 100% on the figure a year earlier, and with more than 75million active users overall. That’s quite a reach, and despite naysayers being unhappy at the level of royalties paid to musicians by the service, and some artists even removing their work in protest, it doesn’t seem to be stopping its growth.
In contrast, Jay Z’s Tidal, which made a big noise about how much fairer it would be to artists in terms of sharing the wealth, isn’t doing very well at all, perhaps a sign that the general public doesn’t really care that much about ensuring musicians get their just deserves. Or maybe it’s more a backlash against the way the platform was marketed, as we discussed in April’s Smoking Gun PR newsletter lead story.
Either way, if we were Apple Music, and had just revealed that streams by non-paying subscribers would not result in any money being given to the musicians whose work was played, we probably wouldn’t be particularly worried about upsetting users. However, whether we can attract the same level of uptake is going to be down to various issues, not least the ability to secure exclusive content from high profile stars, marketing, PR and advertising.
Big news indeed, but this peters into relative insignificance when compared to the impending arrival (well, OK, it’s a few months away but still…) of iOS9; the operating system that all Apple’s mobile devices run on (so that would be iPhones, iPods and iPads). Already this is being heralded as a major game changer, with expectations high that this could be the saving grace for the struggling tablet market because the new update contains some significant ‘under the hood’ tweaks that will in effect turn an iPad into a personal computer of sorts, finally unleashing the power they have, up until now, only possessed in theory.
From a public relations perspective this is all very interesting, but the key part is yet to come. iOS9 will come with a News app, which is open to worldwide publishers. The idea being that digital newspapers, magazines and websites will be able to open their content up to Apple users via native software that comes pre-installed, therefore increasing the chances that someone who wouldn’t necessarily open their browser and go to will end up reading an article from the Guardian if it relates to a subject they are interested.
It’s a significant move, and one that has already attracted the likes of ESPN, Wired, and The New York Times, along with Conde Naste, Hearst, Vox, The Economist and- as you may have guessed from the last paragraph- the Guardian. Apple says the offering will boost revenue for the titles signed up to it, in contrast most of the titles themselves haven’t said much about how they will monetise this service, although The Economist has referred to it as a case of being able to advertise its product to a wider audience, rather than viewing the service as a money-making option in itself.
One thing is certainly for sure, though. From the perspective of an award-laden and top-rated public relations agency like us, whose business it is to get brands in front of journalists, and into their stories, the outlets that get involved with Apple’s News will undoubtedly see a spike, if not long-term increase in readers, simply because of the sheer number of Apple devices that are already in the public’s hands (10million iPhone 6 units were sold in the first three days after launch alone). That’s good news for us, and great news for the clients we work so hard securing value for money coverage for.

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