Report: Flipboard-like Facebook reader coming this month

Flipboard650

A Facebook reader, similar to the popular app Flipboard, has long been rumored, but a new report suggests that the social network could launch the product by the end of the month. According to Re/Code, Facebook will soon launch “Paper,” a Facebook product that acts like Flipboard, a visual news magazine app with customized recommendations.

If true, this falls in line with Facebook’s efforts to bring more and more features from outside the social network to inside, prompting users to spend more and more time within the site. Re/Code’s sources that this has been a “multi-year effort” by Facebook’s News Feed team, and it’s almost ready to come to fruition.

Re/Code explains what “Paper,” is, but Facebook declined to comment on the matter (standard procedure on rumors):

The product is known as “Paper,” according to a source familiar with the matter, and it is similar to Flipboard, a buzzy mobile-focused news reading app. Paper looks to be either a standalone mobile application or a Web experience suited to mobile devices, according to this person. Facebook could launch the app before the end of January, this person said, though the timetable could change.

Paper and Flipboard share a number of similarities, according to this person. Both essentially act as aggregators of rich media content, displaying a mix of news stories from publications like the New York Times or the Washington Post, along with status updates from Facebook users — all in a visually stunning “paper-like” format hearkening back to a time before digital devices.

The efforts are known internally as Project Reader, Re/Code sources say, and are led by Facebook Vice President of Product Chris Cox.

According to AppData estimates, Flipboard’s Facebook app has 5.5 million monthly active users and 3 million daily active users (making it the 25th-most popular Facebook app in terms of AppData DAU estimates).

However, could this move flop?

A guest post on The Next Web makes a valid point, that the trend in online and mobile now is toward niche. Facebook wants to be an internet supermarket, where users can come to get news, chat with friends, get shopping recommendations and view visually striking content. People do still want to do all these things, but not everyone wants to go to Facebook for everything, Ciaran Treacy writes:

The problem is that neither has, or would work for Facebook. The reality is that people don’t want a one stop shop for all of their online activities, especially with a company who have had notorious dealings with data-selling and profiling.

What the social network needs to realize is that the future of social is niche, you can’t be everything to everyone.

Twitter has fallen into Second Screen mode, working as a real-time accompaniment to TV and major events. LinkedIn is strictly professional. Google still trundles on with Google Plus, but is increasingly refocusing on its devices, looking more towards Apple and device integration. Each begins to fill a niche in our lives, offering diverse experience without too much overlap.

Readers: What do you think of Facebook finally launching some sort of reader?

Top image courtesy of Flipboard’s Facebook page.

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