Apple has been delivering incorrect reader numbers to publishers who have been offering their content via the Apple News app. Apple SVP of Internet Software and Services, Eddy Cue told The Wall Street Journal that an internal glitch had cause the Cupertino firm to miscalculate the number of people accessing the service.
Cue says Apple has been underestimating the number of readers using the app ever since it launched in September 2015 as a part of iOS 9. Apple hadn’t noticed the issue until recently, as it was busy working on other parts of the news service. Cue says Apple still isn’t exactly sure of the reader numbers yet:
“We’re in the process of fixing that now, but our numbers are lower than reality,” [Cue] said. “We don’t know what the right number is,” but he added that it was better to undercount than overcount traffic.
Apple CEO Tim Cook announced in October that the service had approximately 40 million users, but didn’t specify if that number was regular users, or merely a count of users who had accessed the service at least once. The service launched as a U.S.-only service, expanding to the U.K. and Australia one month later, alongside the release of iOS 9.1.
Apple News partners – including The New York Times, CNN, ESPN, and others – may likely disagree with Cue that under reporting is better than over reporting, as the figure impacts their advertising revenue. The Apple news app displays ads delivered by its own iAd service. Publishers keep 100% of the revenue from ads sold by the publisher, or 70% from ads sold through the Apple iAd service.
Cue noted that Apple is working on quickly building new features for iAd, including a self-service ad-buying tool, which expected to debut sometime in the next two months.