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Facebook to release Flipboard-like newsreader called Paper

Facebook is launching a mobile app for reading shared newsfeeds that will compete against the likes of Flipboard, Zite and Google Currents.


Since the dawn of social networking and digital publishing, the publishing industry has been challenged with finding the best way to reach the intended audience amid loss of readership in the print format. Distribution through mobile devices seems to be the easiest way to gain reach at this point, and social networks like Facebook and Twitter are now considered the gatekeepers of content.

Publishers now rely on their content going viral, or at least being shared by readers on their preferred networks. Here lies the sharing model behind reader apps like Flipboard, Zite, Google Currents, and to some extent Pocket, Instapaper and other mobile reading tools. A natural extension of being a social network would be that Facebook can also be a medium for sharing and distribution of content.

Some companies are even building a business model on the virality of their content (articles, memes or multimedia), although Facebook’s management is trying to adjust its algorithm to give focus on higher-quality feeds from reputable sources.

Facebook is now expanding its efforts in mobile, and the social network has taken a piecemeal approach with mixed success so far. For instance, Facebook’s Messenger app has been well-received, even amid strong competition with other standalone messenger applications. Other efforts like Facebook Home, Poke (a Snapchat challenger) and Facebook Camera were not so successful.

Still, there is value to doing a focused approach in mobile. “One theme that should be clear from our work on products like Messenger, Groups and Instagram is that our vision for Facebook is to create a set of products that help you share any kind of content you want with any audience you want,” shared co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg in an earnings call earlier this week, during which the company’s share price was at an all-time high.

Facebook now wants to replace users’ default news readers with an application for reading news feeds, called Pocket. Launching for iOS users in the US this Febraury 3rd — and likewise on other platforms shortly thereafter — Paper is an app meant to help users “explore and share stories from friends and the world around you.”

Paper 2

Paper will comprise one’s news feed, plus themed stories, for better content discovery. Facebook says the app will focus on photos, videos and longer-written posts. Content will come from both emerging and established publications.

Apart from shoring stories and multimedia, Paper wants to provide a more immersive experience when consuming content. Tilting the device to the side will zoom in on a full-screen view of the photo, with panoramic view of larger, higher-resolution images, for instance. Videos are meant to auto-play at full-screen.

Paper not only lets users consume content, but also share interesting material with their Facebook friends. Facebook expects users to want to share their own stories, and these will be crafted and shared with a live preview, so users know exactly what readers are going to see.

Will Facebook’s piecemeal approach to launching apps enable the social network to dominate mobile?

Source: Facebook Newsroom

J. Angelo Racoma
J. Angelo Racoma has written extensively about mobile, social media, enterprise apps and startups. Angelo develops business case studies for Microsoft enterprise applications and services. He is also co-founder at WorkSmartr, a small outsourcing team.

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