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Fortune's Apple-Watcher Philip Elmer-DeWitt Is Leaving, Launching His Own Site

Goodbye Apple 2.0. Hello Apple 3.0.
Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

Since 2007, Philip Elmer-DeWitt has written a daily column about Apple for Fortune magazine’s website. Now he’s going to stop writing for Fortune and start writing for himself.

Elmer-DeWitt’s last edition of Apple 2.0 is scheduled to run on March 31. After that, he’ll be working full-time on his own site, Apple 3.0. (Get it?)

The move is worth noting in part because Elmer-DeWitt is a longtime fixture among Apple chroniclers. And in part because he’s going to try to go into business for himself. That’s a hard task, but perhaps more doable now than it has been in the past.

Depending on your perspective, Elmer-DeWitt was either pushed out of Fortune, or he jumped on his own. Probably some of both, which is often the case.

In Elmer-DeWitt’s retelling of the story, Aaron Task, Fortune’s digital editor, approached him last fall and told him he had to stop writing solely about Apple, which Elmer-DeWitt didn’t want to do.

But it may be that Task simply didn’t want Elmer-DeWitt to write for Fortune at all. “He told me, ‘Frankly, I can hire three people for one of you,'” Elmer-DeWitt said in an interview. That’s almost certainly true, given that Elmer-DeWitt started at Time Inc. in 1979 and worked his way up the ladder in an era in which magazines paid salaries that are hard to find online today.

A Fortune rep declined to comment.

Elmer-DeWitt’s new plan is to try selling the stuff that Fortune used to give away. His new site sells subscriptions for $10 a month, which gives readers instant access to whatever he’s writing. If you want to read it for free, you can wait three days, when the paywall drops.

One exception: Quickies like a one-liner about John Oliver’s new video will be free, immediately. Because, why not?

Solo publishing — with or without a paywall — is hard. But at this point there are working models for it, particularly in tech, and particularly for people who write a lot about Apple. John Gruber does very nicely writing and speaking about Apple, and analyst Ben Thompson has carved out a business for himself with a subscription newsletter that contains heavy doses of Apple analysis.

“I always figured the sweet spot of my audience was people who bought Apple at $9 a share (it’s at $102 now), and they watch the ticker very closely,” Elmer-DeWitt said. Time to see if they’ll watch him, too.

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