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Sept. 1, 2015, 12:24 p.m.
Aggregation & Discovery

The wave of distributed content is coming ever closer to crashing into shore.

On the heels of Apple News — Apple’s news platform slated to debut later this month with the release of iOS 9 — Samsung announced today it was partnering with the giant German publisher Axel Springer to produce content expressly for Samsung mobile devices.

As audiences continue to move to mobile — at the start of 2015, 39 of the top 50 online publishers had more mobile than desktop visitors, according to a Pew study — news organizations are looking for ways to reach consumers on their phones. And with the average U.S. smartphone users spending 88 percent of their time in apps, outlets must reach those audience through those apps.

That’s why, just in the past few months, we’ve seen the launch of products such as Facebook’s Instant Articles and Snapchat Discover in addition to Apple’s News app. But unlike those — which offer platform access to multiple news companies, in some cases promising eventual wide access — this partnership gives access only to Axel Springer. As Joshua Benton wrote in June after Apple News was announced, this is a shift from outlets owning their own digital real estate through their own websites to, in essence, now renting space from other platforms:

But the broader narrative is clear: Individual news apps and individual news brands aren’t the primary point of contact with news any more. They’re raw material, feeding into broader platforms. The loss of power for publishers in that exchange is obvious; the potential benefits remain mostly undiscovered.

Axel Springer and Samsung didn’t disclose financial terms for their new relationship, but the first byproduct of the partnership will be Upday, a news aggregation app. The app will offer users “access to a range of news content that combines ‘Need to Know’ information selected by a local market editorial team and ‘Want to Know’ information, an algorithm-based service tailored to customers’ individual interests,” according to a release. And Politico Europe reported that Axel Springer will pay other publishers ancillary copyright fees for the content it aggregates in the app.

A beta version of the app will be released on Thursday to a limited number of users in Germany and Poland, two of Axel Springer’s largest markets. The companies said Upday will be released widely in those countries, and elsewhere in Europe, early next year.

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