There are certainly some big omissions from Apple's new premium news bundle, Apple News+, given that media companies like The New York Times and The Washington Post chose to keep their content outside of this new subscription offering despite an intense lobbying effort from Apple. Nevertheless, the company must surely be pleased with the reception to Apple News+, which it unveiled a week ago now during the media event dominated by new revenue-generating Apple services and non-hardware products.
Based on anonymous sources cited by the NYT, more than 200,000 people reportedly signed up for Apple News+ in the first 48 hours after its launch on March 25. That's more than Texture ever amassed at its most successful point, Texture being the app that Apple acquired and refashioned into the paid version of its existing Apple News product.
One of the things we can take away from that estimate is that there are still plenty of people out there with room in their budget for at least one new $9.99 month subscription product. After a free first month, that's how much Apple News+ will begin charging going forward. Which is why it will be interesting to see, first, how many of this initial 200,000 or so hang around after the free month ends. Also worth noting -- if this is an indication of how many people will pay for a news product that doesn't even include the most important newspapers in the country, perhaps it also foreshadows a similarly robust early customer base for Apple's Netflix rival, Apple TV+, that's coming later this year.
If I had to guess, a subscription to quality TV offerings probably ranks higher on most consumers' list than a paid news subscription bundle, so we will see if this number can serve as a kind of Apple TV+ floor.
As a reminder, Apple News+ provides access to some 300 magazines as well as paywalled content from outlets like The Wall Street Journal and The Los Angeles Times. The service's 50% revenue share has rankled some media observers and publishers like the NYT, while one media observer told a Vanity Fair reporter: "If you have a subscription business or a membership business, and you’ve got, like, 9,000 digital subscribers, you don’t have much to lose going in with Apple.”
Kids are sometimes as young as 10 when parents allow them to have their first smartphone, according to studies from recent years, which might sound too young to you or maybe even just serve as a reminder at how intensely mobile-centric our world has become. Of course, a corollary to giving youngsters handsets of their own is that now they can have smartphone plans of their own as well -- all under mom and dad's watchful eye.
Verizon has unveiled just that in the form of its new "Just Kids" plan, which will be available starting Thursday and includes unlimited texting and talking to 20 contacts the child's parents have pre-approved. To get the plan, which also includes 5GB of 4G LTE data, it needs to be added to an existing "Go," "Beyond," or "Above" unlimited plan from Verizon.
The "Just Kids" plan also allows for 480p streaming, and parents will be able to easily set content controls to make sure their children don't venture anywhere they're not supposed to online. “With Just Kids," said Verizon vice president of marketing Angie Klein, "we’re leading the way on growing up with tech, providing parents with plan options and features that give them the peace of mind they need for safe and responsible phone usage.”
Among other controls that will be available to the child's parents, the plan will allow for a function that effectively pauses the child's internet connectivity, blocking their Wi-Fi and cellular data. Within Verizon's "Smart Family" app is also where parents will go when they want to switch up the list of contacts the child is able to communicate with.
We should note, Verizon doesn't appear to have put an age minimum on the plan, leaving that decision up to the parents. If the parents have three of Verizon's latest unlimited lines on their account, adding one "Just Kids" line can be as low as $5 more per month when enrolled in Auto Pay, which doesn't include taxes and fees. Meanwhile, Verizon has also teamed up with the Family Online Safety Institute to promote families establishing ground rules for themselves and their kids that promote more responsible use of technology.
“The launch of Just Kids is a timely response to the true needs of parents raising connected children,” said Stephen Balkam, CEO of the institute. “As the digital world continues to change and expand, we are pleased to partner with Verizon to uphold their commitment to online safety by tailoring programs and products to reflect what families need the most.”
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