Is Flipboard good for publishers?


The idea for the buzzy iPad app Flipboard, backed by co-founders of Twitter and Facebook, came to CEO Mike McCue while reading a magazine on a plane and wondering why, in comparison, the internet is so, well, ugly. McCue told The San Francisco Chronicle that he asked himself, "I wonder if I could design a Web-like experience that was sort of rooted in the timeless principles of print, and bring the beautiful photography, the really well done typography, layout and graphic design but have that same sort of power and richness and dynamic of the web?”

He may have something there: Flipboard's impressive design is tailor-made for the touch and interface of Apple's iPad. 

Over 17,000 Twitter followers later, the Palo Alto based company is up and running. iPad's touch screen has significantly changed the media landscape, enabling start-ups like Flipboard and the self-described "Newspaper of the Future" Apollo News. You download the free app from the iTunes App Store link. Thereafter you will be prompted for your email. After responding, Flipboard sends you an invite allowing you to setup Facebook and Twitter. (Due to high demand there is a wait of several days.)

Flipboard crafts an electronic "social magazine" style format from links to news stories posted on social networks like Twitter and Facebook. "Flipboard is changing the way I interact with Twitter," tweeted Massimo Sgrelli, co-founder of Wave Group. The self-described "world's first social magazine" also utilizes Tweets for updates and to respond to questions and feedback. Flickr, Foursquare, Yelp and possibly even emails are all on Flipboard's radar as future ways at engaging social media. 

Is this all just hype? There are kinks, to be sure. Just today, for example, Flipboard noted some YouTube videos weren't playing. "Game changer" has been bandied about -- perhaps a bit too early in the game. Flipboard has already received glowing, early praise from tech bloggers like Robert Scoble, ZDNet's Matthew Miller, Robert Stephens and Blogher. "Beautiful" is an adjective that frequently accompanies the company's name in the press.

But content providers of late have since been asking themselves whether or not this is even legal.

Copyright and fair use questions notwithstanding, publishers might also want to ask whether Flipboard could potentially drive massive traffic back to their sites. Could Flipboard actually help publishers monetize their content? Flipboard's harnessing of the power of social networking to share news content is not wide of the mark of the aim of publishers. Flipboard likes to think of themselves as allies, not adversaries, of publishers.

Last Wednesday, in their debut, Flipbook's servers were overwhelmed by the response, even extra servers were maxed out in a matter of minutes when users tried to connect. The free app seeks to become profitable eventually by selling on-screen advertising. Flipboard, which arranges updates, photos and articles in a highly personalized context, approaches ads from an efficient, design point of view.

McCue, optimistic, believes that his company will allow publishers to monetize their content by a factor of ten. There are, as of yet, no ads. "We think we can bring a totally new form of advertising to the table that will allow publishers to monetize their content by a factor of ten from what they’re currently doing with banner ads," predicted McCue.  



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