Monday, February 21, 2011

Flipboard: A Harbinger of Magazines that Read People?

Early in December 2010, Apple named Flipboard as the best iPad app of the year. Flipboard unpacks the underlying articles and images from your social streams like Twitter and Facebook, and presents them in a magazine-like format. So, you leaf through your Facebook, as it were. The user experience is remarkably rich, due to the aesthetically pleasing layout, typography, generous white spaces and attractive graphics.Once you start experiencing your Twitter streams on Flipboard, it is addicting.

Flipboard is free, and has already  been downloaded by over a million people. (I confess, I did not make it to the first million, just started using it recently.) It seems to me that Flipboard ushers in a fundamentally new way of consuming content on touchscreen tablets.  The page flipping action is a perfect navigation method on the iPad, which is all about touch.

Flipboard lets you pull in Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Google Reader feeds and other custom feeds. It grabs photos, text or video from Twitter streams and stitches them into a magazine-like layout.  In essence, it helps you design your own visually rich newspaper - which is always up to date.You get to read the content you care about, posted by people you care about.

In that sense, Flipboard is a magazine that reads you - your interests and your social networks - to build itself. Sounds like a holy grail for advertisers. 

1 comment:

  1. I bought an iPad this Friday. I bought it on my way home from office, and made the purchase at 9:00 pm as the store was closing. Truth be told, Flipboard was a big reason I just couldn't control it any more. Well, it just flipped me over!

    So, since this weekend, I have been browsing my FB, Twitter, Google Reader accounts via Flipboard. It definitely is a custom magazine for me, and targeted advertising is definitely a HUGE potential (did Google just pop into everyone's head?). In any case, Apple (or whoever purchases or kills Flipboard) has the potential to do what Google did with keyword search advertising.

    There are two distinct things that are emerging - for Free and Paid content respectively. Free content served via Flipboard will carry ads. This is the holy grail as you say, and it will be as big as AdWords! In fact, I will stick my neck out and say that custom content is to mobile what search was to web - both tremendously monetize-able. Of course, search will always be big (as long as we're humans!) but not too many months from now, you would have subscribed to all the things in the world that interest you. And you will find things just popping up (it already happens to some extent with Google!).

    The other is paid content delivered via these platforms (Android, iOS etc.). I guess we'll have to see how the content and service delivery fight that Apple recently brewed up will go. I am a huge Apple fan, but being an Apple fan is like being on a roller coaster - you enjoy while being on top, but you always worry about the fall (and the unpleasantness it causes sometimes). Hope Apple has its strategy figured out with paid content.

    (Sorry, for being such a long comment, it could have been a blog post itself!)