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article imageApple admits it 'doesn’t know' how many people use its News app

By James Walker     Jan 11, 2016 in Technology
Apple has said a glitch in its analytics software means it has been underestimating the number of people using its Apple News app since the service launched in September 2015. The company "doesn't know" what the correct figure is.
Eddy Cue, Apple's senior vice president of Internet Software and Services, admitted the company's mistake in a report in the Wall Street Journal. Cue claims the error has gone unnoticed for months because Apple's engineers have been more concerned with adding new features to the app.
The content publishers who have made their articles accessible in Apple News have been sent the same inaccurate information as Apple itself has received. These numbers are used to calculate how much advertising to buy so Apple's mistake could end up altering publishers' plans. Cue tried to lighten the topic a little though, noting it's better to "undercount than overcount."
Apple is now working to fix the issue and get some correct usage data for Apple News. In the meantime, it still doesn't know "what the right number is," instead saying "our numbers are lower than reality."
Apple News has been built as a Flipboard-style news aggregator to let people read news articles from several different sources within one native app. This avoids the need to visit slow, ad-filled websites individually, creating a better reading experience, but it remains unclear how many people actually use the service.
The company has previously claimed 40 million people have used the app but that figure is also now being reassessed. Although feedback from publishers has been largely positive, not everyone has been impressed. The Wall Street Journal reports that Julie Hansen, president of Business Insider, said site page reads generated by Apple News are "modest relative to the enormous install base of iOS devices."
Part of the issue, aside from the inaccurate reporting of actual usage, is likely to be the limited range of markets that Apple News is available in. Although iOS itself has an install base of millions, the News app requires iOS 9 and currently only has a presence in the U.S., U.K. and Australia.
The news of Apple's underestimation of News users came as shares in the company fell beneath $100 and the long-term upward trend in its stock came into question.
Apple is now trading 27 percent lower than its all-time high in April 2015, leading some analysts to claim it's in a "potentially disastrous" situation. Investors are currently concerned at Apple's plans to cut iPhone orders for the next quarter in an effort to clear unsold devices, an unusual move for the company.
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