Apple's News and News+ service to iOS users in the UK, US, Canada and Australia has attracted many ad-funded and paywalled news publishers since its launch in 2015

Publishers’ 'opt-in' to its walled garden environment to reach underserved demographics on their own sites and raise brand awareness, and more recently, take advantage of the reduced commission on subscriptions sold through the App Store, with Apple taking 15% instead of 30%

For Apple, the priority is to improve the user experience, ultimately driving sales of iOS devices, although its engagement with news is only a minor source of revenue compared to games. We regard Apple News as being mainly a device to buttress its reputation in those selected markets where it faces political and regulatory pressures, explaining its limited geographic roll-out

Rising online ad prices mean customer acquisition costs have spiked for D2C businesses, which already had a higher marketing spend base than offline equivalents.

At the same time, the data used to target and measure online advertising—the key channel to find and convert customers—is being eroded.

There will be consolidation in the crowded D2C landscape, providing scale benefits. Sellers will also have to refocus their marketing attention on increasing customer lifetime value.

The EU’s GDPR enforcers have ruled that IAB Europe’s framework for collecting user consent, a standard used by about 80% of sites on the continent, is in violation of the regulations

This is one of the clearest signs yet that regulation is starting to catch up with Apple and Google’s privacy push, as support for cookies and mobile ad IDs is due to end over the next few years

Publishers must prepare now by treating privacy as a core part of user experience and adopting a reader-first revenue model that also supports advertising in a trusted environment

Meta presented mixed results against low expectations, with its ad business a concern in the age of privacy.

Reels is at the core of the company’s strategy to win users given heightened competition, but its monetisation challenge persists.

Meta spent $3.7 billion on its metaverse gamble in the quarter. A higher-end device will help address strengthening enterprise demand for VR headsets, but the route to profitability remains unclear.

TikTok has reached a billion users worldwide just four years after its global launch, much quicker than social media rivals, though its ban in India is a drag on growth.

TikTok’s popularity with under-25s has contributed to a hollowing-out of Meta’s active userbase. During the pandemic, TikTok also expanded its reach among older demographics, cementing its position within the mainstream and posing a further threat to Meta. 

TikTok could earn twice as much revenue as Snap in 2022, making it the first app to break out of the mid-league in years, with a huge runway for growth backed up by ByteDance’s remarkable success in China. 

Apple’s record December quarter closed off a huge year for the company, with little sign that supply chain problems affected the core iPhone business. Services, meanwhile, remain strong, and the company’s status as the world’s biggest subscription provider positions the business for a metaverse future.

Apple’s ability to control platforms like the App Store is under regulatory pressure. Apple is ceding ground where it can, while keeping fees high for the mobile gaming cash cow.

China has returned as a meaningful contributor to growth. US sanctions have toppled China’s Huawei, to the benefit of the American firm.

Apple’s iPhone launch event was relatively light on iPhone, which shared the stage with games, TV, Watch, iPad and retail announcements

This reflects Apple’s developing priorities: as iPhone sales soften, it needs to find new ways to extract value from the wealthy user base it has spent a decade nurturing

Apple has embraced this new strategy, offering a range of cheaper points of entry into its ecosystem, making the lost profits back on accessories or content subscriptions

In China, Alibaba and Tencent compete for food delivery to expand access to a fast-growing source of mobile user data, using their chat and wallet super apps to funnel customers to their food delivery apps

In the West, the rivalry is direct between the food delivery apps – Just Eat, Uber Eats, and Deliveroo – and the costs of last-mile delivery dissuade challengers

In the UK, Amazon will change the game if it succeeds in its proposed purchase of a minority stake in Deliveroo, which Uber failed to buy last year. Progress on the merger of Amazon and Deliveroo is suspended by the regulator

Google’s advertising business has begun losing market share in the US, with competition from Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft intensifying in search and display

In response, the company is redoubling efforts to reshape its apps, services, and the entire web for more efficient monetisation, spelling uncertainty for partners and users

The adaptability and complexity of Google’s services reduce business risk from targeted regulatory measures, but increase the pressure for a radical intervention

After the most challenging period in its history since 2012, Facebook has been able to stabilise its fundamental metrics and announce a major product overhaul

Despite talk of a business model pivot, Facebook’s focus remains on advertising, whose growth will remain concentrated in developed markets

News publishers wishing to stay relevant on the upgraded product set need to target exclusive layers of social interaction, with groups particularly important