Apple has acquired Dutch digital magazine startup Prss, a platform that makes it easy to create iPad-compatible magazines using tools that don’t require any knowledge of code. The company is essentially a magazine-focused version of iBooks Author, and the deal could mean better native publishing tools for digital periodicals.
The acquisition was first reported by iCulture, a Dutch iOS-focused blog, which reports the deal from a “source with knowledge of the deal.” We’ve received the following statement from Apple, which is as close as the company ever comes to making a positive confirmation of an acquisition:
Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.
Prss launched in 2013, and was the result of the work of the founding team’s creation of Trvl, one of the first iPad newsstand magazines. It was the first iPad-exclusive newsstand publication when it debuted in 2010, and featured a photo-rich design. Trvl won multiple awards, garnered very positive reviews in iTunes and was featured in a Tim Cook keynote speech during WWDC in 2012. Prss was designed to leverage the expertise Trvl co-founders Jochem Wijnands and Michel Elings into an open platform any iPad magazine publisher could use.
Apple debuted iBooks Author in 2012, as a free tool publishers could use to build content for iBooks. The app is available for OS X, but its WYSIWYG editor is aimed primarily at building textbooks or other ebooks, and isn’t as useful for building publications for Newsstand. If Apple were to provide its own native tools for easy digital magazine creation, they could theoretically attract a lot more indie and small-run content to the Newsstand catalog.
Of course, Apple could just be looking to fill out its roster on the digital publishing and design side with some more expertise, and in that case we likely won’t see any product announcements. Still, an interesting deal given the track record of Prss and the publication that spawned its creation.