“Facebook’s Paper Doesn’t Scare Other News App”

Source: Mashable posted by Jason A. January 31st 2014


“Whatever you want to call Facebook‘s Paper — be it a magazine, a newspaper, a content platform or just a fancy-looking newsfeed — the app brings the social media company into a crowded media platform field.

Sites and apps like Flipboard, Feedly, Zite, Pulse and Inside.com, just to name a few, each have their niche but are now dwarfed by the entry of the most dominant web media host by every metric.

Paper will not launch until Feb. 3, but industry players had varied reactions to Facebook’s most unique offering to date.

Edwin Khodabakchian, co-founder and CEO of news aggregator Feedly, said he found Paper to be a vote of confidence in the move toward the consumption of customized media streams.

“My first reaction was that this is a great validation of the trend we call the unbundling of media — the idea that the media landscape is changing, that the sources that are publishing content are a lot more specialized and there’s a lot more of them on the web, and big monolithic news experiences are getting broken down to more laser-like focuses,” Khodabakchian said.

Khodabakchian said that Paper seemed similar to Feedly, but that important differences meant Facebook’s app was not a threat. “From a competitive perspective, we’re going more after professional and really passionate people,” he said. “We don’t see that product as a direct competitors.”

Jason Calacanis, founder and CEO of Inside.com, which recently released its revamped news aggregation app, told Mashable he saw similarities with existing products — and that this does not bode well for Facebook.

“Facebook Paper has done a wonderful job of replicating Flipboard’s innovations, in the same spirit that Facebook recreated Snapchat with their Poke App,” Calacanis wrote. “I’m not certain this is a winning strategy, however.”

Calacanis noted that despite being tools to aggregate news, important distinctions exist. “Flipboard, and Paper by extension, are not competitors to Inside.com,” he wrote. “We select the 1,000 best pieces of journalism today and write updates based on them. We don’t use machines or just pull in headlines.”

Matt Chmiel, senior content strategist at digital creative agency Code and Theory, said this differences are important — particularly in a growing market that could handle more than one successful app. “They all have a different angle,” Chmiel said. “I know that Facebook is so much bigger… but there is enough of a niche in all of the different pieces that I’m curious to see what impact Facebook’s presence in this space is going to have.”

Paper is said to have a human element — editors that will curate different sections and select stories to be presented to readers. Chmiel said this was in line with a growing trend toward relying on people with an eye for good content, rather than just algorithms.

“You see this in a variety of news consumption apps,” he said. “All of these things are using human powered context to organize and curate content in a better way. This is the rise of editors. It used to be bloggers and now it’s organizing all of the activity with proper editors and direction.”

Content apps have some reason to not feel particularly threatened by Facebook’s entry. The social media giant’s other standalone apps are not exactly putting competitors out of business.

Facebook’s Poke app, a Snapchat-like messenger, has failed to gain traction. Camera, its photography app, made Facebook’s Instagram acquisition look wise. Messenger is by far Facebook’s most successful spin-off app, but is still being beat by WhatsApp.


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