The Empires of Apple Media

Douglas A. McIntyre

Apple’s (NASDAQ: AAPL) stock occasionally rises above $600 a share and its market cap above $600 billion. Its sales almost certainly will pass $100 billion this year, based on extraordinary revenue growth. The iPhone and iPad continue to post remarkable sales. All of these things have caused the rises of media based solely on news and rumors about Apple, and many of these media are very successful.

Apple has long been the source of news for major media. Readers only have to turn to the Apple section of Fortune or the tech coverage on TV, print and the Internet. Apple dominates the news pages as much as it does the value of the Nasdaq. The death of founder Steve Jobs was headline news across the world.

Barely covered by the shadows of big news media sit large tech websites that devote huge amounts of coverage to Apple. These include The Verge, TechCrunch, Mashable and Ars Technica. Each of these sites has millions of visitors a month, and a valuation well into the tens of millions of dollars. TechCrunch recently was sold to Aol (NYSE: AOL) for as much as $30 million. There were rumors, almost certainly false, that Time Warner’s (NYSE: TWX) CNN would buy Mashable for as much as $200 million.

These tech sites barely devote much coverage to Apple when compared to Apple-centric sites that commit nearly every word and page to news about the giant company. “9 to 5 Mac” has a million visitors a month, according to audience research firm Quantcast. MacRumors is much larger, with nearly 8 million visitors, which rates it among the top 400 sites on the web, based on visitor numbers. The Unofficial Apple Website, owned by Aol, also has millions of visitors a month.

Based on many measurements, some of these Apple websites are worth more than $50 million and spin out annual profits into the millions of dollars.

The media is adroit at following the money with coverage, and Apple is at the core of coverage about technology. That has turned clever editors into millionaires.

Douglas A. McIntyre