by Timothy Brown
Welcome back to Tim Bs Tech Talk. Today, I want to talk about Flipboard.
Flipboard is arguably the most popular newsreader available today. Originally released in July 2010 for the iPad, Flipboard was eventually made available for the iPhone, other mobile platforms, and desktop computers. Flipboard essentially aggregates news from a variety of sources and invites users to become active contributors. News readers are ubiquitous, but somehow Flipboard managed to make them social. Before I explore this aspect in more detail, let’s first take a brief look at news readers.
News readers enable you to access news feeds by choosing from a range of pre-selected topics or by using a built-in search function to find specific areas of interest. In many ways, mews t eaders supersede "save-it-for-later" apps like Instapaper and Pocket because they serve both as a vehicle for finding news as well as a place for storing articles away. Flipboard represents the best of this genre, but other apps have been important contributors. USA Today and NPR were some of the first established news sources to enter the market, yet other apps like Flud, Pulse (eventually Linkedin Pulse), SkyGrid, Zite, News360, Feedly, Early Edition 2, Paper by Facebook, Pulp, and Google+ were key to making news readers a success. Most notably, Early Edition offered the best example of skeuomorphic design, a digital replication of a traditional newspaper (that is, before Apple flattened everything out), Zite enhanced personalization, Feedly offered greater speed and fluidity (and options for Google customers to migrate their feeds after the app went defunct), and Paper by Facebook superbly integrated Facebook feeds into a news reader format. Pulse, however, was the first app to make the news reader experience accessible through a browser, encouraging Flipboard to elevate its game. Apple News entered the market much later, buildi ng on the success of these earlier news readers, but taking a more top-down approach by introducing curation and subscriptions to increase revenue streams.
News reader apps have greatly transformed how we access news today , but Flipboard figured out a way to make them social. Flipboard has been known for its tile-flipping interface, but the most significant development came when the company introduced 'My Magazines." While "Smart Magazines" provide top-down curation (articles generated for you by topic), My Magazines consist of stories YOU collect and assemble in accordance with the theme or topic YOU choose. Essentially, you curate your own collection of articles and assemble them into your own magazines. There are no other news readers that provide that level of user-generated curation.
What Makes Flipboard Magazines Social?
My Magazines are inherently social because they can easily be viewed by other Flipboard users. The process is simple: 1. Start a new magazine. 2. Give it a title and a description (optional). 3. Check the option to make it public (so everyone can see it). Once your magazines are made public, people can subscribe to them, flip articles into their own magazines, or share them online. On a more intimate scale, magazine owners can invite others to contribute articles to a magazine.
Who Can Benefit from Flipboard?
Businesses, single professionals, or bloggers can benefit from Flipboard Magazines because articles posted on proprietary sites via Wordpress, etc. can be flipped into a Flipboard Magazine, inviting the world-wide web to have access to their content. Why should anyone limit themsleves by posting articles on a dedicated site that only a handful of people will read? By setting up a Flipboard magazine to correspond with your blog posts online, you can greatly increase your online presence. Furthermore, you invite people to actively collect and share your articles in ways you could never do internally through paid memberships and exclusive followers.
Top down models are useful when the intent is to make your context exclusive. On the other hand, if your goal is to reach broader audiences, Flipboard provides the perfect vehicle for doing so.
Host of My Apple Podcast.