March 28, 2013
Digital Magazine to Flip Over
Just like fooling people, a magazine can reach some of the people all the time or it can reach all of the people some of the time. Few magazines can have the appeal to reach all of the people all of the time. In the heyday of print publishing (which whether you like reading on dead trees or not is likely behind us), there were really two types of magazines.
There were the mass market magazines that aimed at a broad market and those specialty magazines that had smaller circulation, but catered to a very specific niche.
Today in the digital age, a new type of magazine could be taking shape; a magazine that allows users to create exactly what they want, at least as far as content goes. Flipboard promises to be “Something for Everyone.” It is aimed to be a reader’s personal “magazine,” filled with what the reader cares about. To a point anyway.
The thing is that Flipboard isn’t exactly new. The aggregation provider was actually first launched in July of 2010 as an iPad app that could turn a user’s Twitter and Facebook feeds into a digital magazine. Interesting yes, but not exactly something that people would rely on instead of, say, People magazine.
Since that time, however, Flipboard has added other social connections including those from Instagram, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Google+ and SoundCloud. All this was well and good. But as a professional journalist, I’m not one who sees that content from colleagues, friends and other contacts really constitutes a “magazine” that would rival what I could find on the newsstand.
Of course 50 million readers might prove this journalist wrong.
The service claimed to have 20 million readers/users the service had as of last August, and has since passed 50 million users. It has of course expanded beyond the iPad to the iPhone and Android devices. Moreover those numbers include everyone who has used the service, not just active readers.
If a magazine tried to use those numbers imagine how many people People could claim it had as “readers”, past and present. Billions, maybe?
However, the bigger news is that Flipboard has launched a major update, Flipboard 2.0, which is available now for iOS with an Android version to follow shortly. The change here is that users aren’t just content consumers, but could be akin to a digital content creator. The app will allow users to curate and share their own digital “magazines.”
“This release is the largest release we’ve ever done, and we’re really excited about it,” McCue told The Guardian in an interview. “The first-generation product was really focused on consumption and reading, but this new release is focused on curation: the ability for anyone to curate content from across the internet and pull it together in the form of a magazine, then edit and share it with others.”
This means that users can pull together videos and images, along with actual online articles that can be shared with friends and colleagues. It sounds very much like a digital Reader’s Digest, but one that includes actual journalistic content with user generated content.
Magazines can reportedly be made public, or can be kept private; can be emailed or otherwise shared through social media, including Facebook, Twitter and Google+.
This is also not likely to allow people to launch an original magazine, at least not unless the content is already posted online. However, the developers told the Telegraph Online that, “Readers can fill their magazines with content that expresses a point of view, reflects personal tastes or shares ideas they find inspiring. For publishers, this is a new way to share archival content, publish great collections or package together stories in a totally new way on Flipboard.”
Perhaps some Flipboards might even rival People.
Image Credit: Flipboard