Apple’s Newsstand – the oldest new idea yet

Apple have announced their Newsstand. It’s a sort of container for newspaper and magazine apps. They’re arranged in a shelf format, a bit like shops. When a new issue comes out you can pay for it (or you might have a subscription).

This is hardly rocket science but in the topsy-turvy digital world it’s a huge innovation. People are pondering at length what it can all mean, who will win and who will lose.

In fact it’s self-evidently not particularly innovative – existing services like Zinio and, er, Newsstand do the same thing.

The real significance is that it brings a large chunk of Apple’s 225m credit-card wielding customers within the reach of publishers everywhere.

In other words, paying for content is becoming less strange and more ubiquitous.

Many anxious views will be expressed about Apple’s terms of trade, their percentage take and their non-sharing of data but to me that’s beside the point.

To have a market worth fighting over we have to have a market. Expanding the world of paid content is a good thing and we can argue over the money when there’s a bit more of it at stake.

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