Facebook Paper is much more than just a 'Flipboard-killer' attempt

Summary:If it can't make a phone itself, Paper demonstrates Facebook will just take over your phone through apps.


Just as expected it would before the month ran out , Facebook introduced Paper, a new news reader app.

Yes, that's an elementary assessment. But at its core, that is what Paper is.

Just look at the screenshot above and the company-provided description below, and it reads like the summary of most digital news reader apps already available today:

Your Paper is made of stories and themed sections, so you can follow your favorite interests. The first section in Paper is your Facebook News Feed, where you’ll enjoy inspiring new designs for photos, videos, and longer written posts. You can customize Paper with a choice of more than a dozen other sections about various themes and topics—from photography and sports to food, science and design. Each section includes a rich mix of content from emerging voices and well-known publications.

There have already been and will inevitably be more comparisons directly to Flipboard, or even Google Currents. But really, it looks like Facebook is targeting just about everyone here. The game is on against everyone from Pocket and Instapaper to even Evernote with its clipping function as well as Yahoo's News Digest app and expanding collection of digital magazines . The Verge suggested that Facebook is even competing with itself, which from this light looks feasible.

Facebook's edge here is that it has the most obvious benefit of an overwhelming built-in user base. Yes, not all of the 1.1 billion users and then some are using mobile primarily yet. But based on yesterday's earnings report (as well as several preceding it), that's where Facebook's usership is headed.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg has made countless remarks supporting that mobile is the overseeing theme to everything coming out of the Menlo Park, Calif.-headquartered company today. The dedicated Facebook phone ( or at least whatever Facebook Home 's Android overlay was) didn't seem to be the way to go (at least not yet).

The debut of Paper demonstrates that Facebook will take over your phone from the apps entryway instead.

That doesn't mean I'm not keen to try this out yet. The screenshots offer a peek at a much more fluid, clean aesthetic compared to the primary Facebook app interface. I don't know if I'd abandon the original Facebook app, especially as I haven't had the opportunity to try it out yet.

In contrast, I wasn't a big fan of Facebook Messenger as I've never felt the dire need to have the app broken out of Facebook for my own benefit. (Inexplicably I also preferred the FB Messenger experience on Android versus iOS.) But I'm certainly planning on seeing what Paper can do differently (if anything at all) when I can.

Eager Facebook users might have already noticed that Paper isn't actually available yet. In fact, Facebook is starting a slow roll out on February 3rd with support for the iPhone only thus far.

It is not known when support for other iOS devices as well as Android, Windows Mobile and other platforms will follow.

Image via Facebook

Topics: Mobility, Social Enterprise, Developer


Rachel King is a staff writer for CBS Interactive based in San Francisco, covering business and enterprise technology for ZDNet, CNET and SmartPlanet. She has previously worked for The Business Insider, FastCompany.com, CNN's San Francisco bureau and the U.S. Department of State. Rachel has also written for MainStreet.com, Irish Americ... Full Bio

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