Shots have been fired in what is ramping up to be a war of the news reader apps.
At the Code Media conference on Tuesday, Flipboard CEO Mike McCue shared his not-so-subtle thoughts on one of his company’s biggest competitors, Apple News.
“Apple News as a product is living in the past,” McCue said, according to Recode.
McCue reportedly criticized Apple News for lacking social sharing capabilities, for leaving news curation to algorithms (not humans), and for the lift on publishers who have to “adopt” another format.
“We’re not trying to create a closed ecosystem,” McCue said. “And that’s a big deal for publishers.”
Currently, Flipboard users click through to articles on publishers’ websites once they are served the article in the news reader app. But on Apple News, users read the whole article within the ecosystem of the app. In an environment where publishers are scrambling to eke revenue out of an ever-shrinking pool of advertising dollars thanks to products like Facebook Instant Articles and Google Amp, McCue apparently thinks that Flipboard’s ability to drive traffic to publishers directly, and to increase social sharing, is what differentiates Flipboard.
However, McCue’s other criticisms hold less water. There are portions of Apple News curated by human news teams, including “Spotlight” and “Top Stories.” And users can share articles to social media by pressing the bottom left hand share button and selecting the social network, text message, or email account they’d like to use to use.
McCue acknowledged the precariousness of his relationship with Apple. Flipboard is an app and relies on Apple’s hardware — namely, the iPhone and iPad — for its readers.
“When you’re an entrepreneur and you’re competing with Apple, that’s a pretty big deal,” McCue said. He sees Apple as “a partner and a competitor at the same time.”
Whether friends or foes, Flipboard’s delicate relationship with Apple is clearly not stopping McCue from speaking his mind.