Imagine a mash-up of all your social networks into a format that resembles a slick glossy print magazine presented to you on your iPad. Flipboard announced the launch of their free iPad app that creates a magazine out of users' social content.
Mike McCue & Evan DollWhile Facebook and Twitter have gone to great lengths to make their update status pages and Twitterstreams appealing to the eye, they have a long way to go to make it eye-appealing in the same way print media accomplished with magazines. Flipboard founders, Mike McCue and Evan Doll are changing that with a personalized and stylized format that will incorporate material from one's social networks into aesthetically pleasing pages of magazine-like content.
With the initial launch of the app, the content of the pages are customized and populated based on the user's accounts on Twitter and Facebook.
“It’s something print figured out years ago, how to visually declutter,” said McCue, chief executive of Flipboard who founded the company with Doll, a former iPhone engineer at Apple.
According to a New York Times report, the app will eventually be able to access the additional networks of Flickr, Foursquare, Yelp and others. It will arrange all of one's status updates as 'pull quotes' and will display them in attractive content boxes that will show the first few paragraphs of a linked Web page. Those that want to dig deeper only need to click the boxes as they would the appended link in the body of a tweet.
Announcing both a $10.5 million funding from top Silicon Valley power players and also the acquisition of Ellerdale, a relevancy engine for the real-time Web, Flipboard is funded by some notable social network entrepreneurs including Twitter's co-founder Jack Dorsey and Facebook co-founder Dustin Moscovitz.
If you're not a social networking expert, users can select content from a library of 20 to 30 categories including photography, health, technology, film, music food and others.
According to Katherine Boehret from All Things Digital, she notes one of shortcomings of the app is that it doesn't allow enough customization of content - but instead presents status updates in chronological order -which is also one of the major criticisms of Twitter and Facebook in general. However she adds that "a new version of Flipboard, due out this fall, will include more personalized content."
As far as monetization, Claire Cain Miller at the NY Times indicates Flipboard will include advertisements that are reminiscent of print that according to the founders, but will be "less intrusive and more effective than ads on Web pages," where they compete with content for space. Flipboard also plans to make money by offering certain content in exchange for micropayments or subscriptions and sharing the revenue with the publisher.
As interesting a concept as this product is, it sounds to me that Flipboard is priming itself to be acquired by a larger publishing entity. Since Twitter and Facebook have both become two of our major sources for news today, this format could not only incorporate our 'personalized' news feed but also aggregate content generated by a "Mashable" or a "TechCrunch" or even one of the more established print magazine formats such as "Time" or "Newsweek." Similar to the Huffington Post, Flipboard will be powered by semantic data, and that appears to be the direction where future publishing is going - so any of these publishers or combination thereof could be a possibility.
Any guesses who might own Flipboard - this time next year?