It's no secret that the missing component of the new business model for digital news is how to present Web-based journalism to readers in ways that resemble natural, paper-based news reading with all the bells and whistles that readers have come to expect from social media.
It had been the case that Flipboard had basically cornered the market on this key component of the next generation of content-user interfacing... until Facebook launched its newsreader app, Paper, and caused everyone to question the meaning of life again.
However, the first problem for Facebook Paper could have nothing to do with how it delivers news content to users’ mobile devices, and could have more to do with a branding problem because it turns out that there’s already an app named Paper, and it’s a pretty popular one. Facebook’s rollout of its newsreader called “Paper” remains to be seen.
Facebook’s Paper debuted with significant hoopla, even if it does look like a Flipboard rip-off used to harness pre-existing Facebook content. Or maybe the biggest loser to Paper is Facebook’s own app. Once you go Paper, you might never go back.
So now that Facebook has us all reconsidering how we consume our news on our devices, here’s a quick run-down of your other options:
Until the release of Paper, the go-to for news reading, especially on tablets like an iPad, was Flipboard, whose flippy-style layout was basically stolen entirely by Facebook’s Paper. Will Facebook’s entry into this space force Flipboard out? Or will there be an anti-Facebook stampede to this more established platform? Now that Flipboard has bought Zite from CNN, this should get even more interesting.
The news reader Inside.com launched in late January, just a week before Facebook Paper. That’s either good luck that they got out of the gate before Paper went live, or it got its roll-out completely stepped on by Zuckerberg and company. Inside claims to be a smart news reader that gives you stories you want, distinguishing itself from the likes of Pulse, Feedly and Zite, which only serve up stories based on its type of news, which Inside is leveraging actual human curation to set itself apart.
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The news reader Circa shares an investor with Inside, former Weblogs founder Jason Calacanis. (Weblogs sold to AOL in 2005). To Calacanis, Inside and Circa are two different products competing for different audiences. While Inside focuses on news curation with links out to full stories, Circa is built to serve up bits of news that are easily read on mobile devices, and consequently are usually very short.
The third most popular newsreader, News 360 is the app of choice for power users who want their news feed to learn what they like – and who love to configure options. While it’s personalization gave it an early start on the competition, it remains to be seen if it can attract a flood of new users without being attached to a broader platform like Facebook or LinkedIn.
Yahoo News Digest
Yahoo bought Summly for $30 million last year from its creator, Nick D’Aloiso, when he was 17. So D’Aloiso spent his senior year of high school building Yahoo News Digest that sends curated news stories from the Yahoo network twice a day, once in the morning and once at the end of the work day, in an effort to recreate the rhythm of morning and evening editions of daily newspapers like back in the day. Did we mention this kid is 18? Since these daily newsletters aren’t personalized (everyone gets the same stuff), some people are not impressed.
Trove is the news reading app launched by Graham Holdings, the company that used to own the Washington Post. Remember them? Trove customizes the news it feeds to you based on the topics you select, and by syncing with Facebook and Twitter, it can also feed you stories based on what others in your social networks are linking to. Maybe not the best for a finely tuned feed of stories customized exactly for you, but for casual reading and discovery, it looks great.
We all put our resumes on LinkedIn when it launched because we felt obligated, but now what is going on over there? All of a sudden, LinkedIn thinks its a media company that we should be using like every day or something. With Pulse, the social network for work might have found another way into our busy lives. It’s like a customizable WSJ for work-related news in your specific sector. And right on the heels of the Facebook Paper launch, Pulse introduced a new feature: a better tuned night reading mode, which will help you read about work in the dark.