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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.

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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