Facebook is poised to launch a Flipboard-style newsreader service designed especially for mobile, knowledgeable sources told The Wall Street Journal. Labelled internally as “Reader,” the service will source content from Facebook users and brands, focusing on news. According to The Wall Street Journal’s sources, Reader has been in development for over a year under close observation by CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
It’s about time Facebook introduced a service that encourages immersion with online content. Flipboard, a popular news discovery and curation site, recently announced that 50 million people use its service, and the closing of Google Reader has lead other services, like Digg, to step up their game and offer RSS reader capabilities. LinkedIn’s acquisition of Pulse, too, is a signal that social networks should be gunning toward content curation.
What could Reader mean for users and advertisers? Though we don’t yet know many details of the alleged service, Reader’s emphasis on mobile hints that Facebook is aiming to become a mobile advertising powerhouse in the near future. Plus, as a publisher ourselves, we would be excited to see Reader have a positive impact on allowing news sites to reach their fans. That is, unless Facebook decides to block publishers’ access to the service like they’ve done for their access to the News Feed.
Earlier this year, Zuckerberg unveiled a redesign of the News Feed to feature content from news publishers more prominently. At the unveiling Zuckerberg said he wanted Facebook to be “The best personalized newspaper in the world.” It appears this was a pointer toward things to come.
According to The Wall Street Journal’s sources, Facebook developers are taking their time experimenting with various interfaces in order to create the best news reader. They aim to create a seamless experience across tablets and smartphones and have considered incorporating a public posts feature that highlights articles trending on Facebook. The developers’ underlying goal? To encourage users to spend as much time as possible interacting with Facebook. More time spent on the site equals more ad dollars, after all. Reader is reportedly under development for the iPhone and iPad.
Facebook’s Reader rumors come soon after Facebook announced video support for Instagram, an event that set the media abuzz with anticipation that included early talk of Facebook launching a news reader.
What features would you like to see in Facebook’s Reader, if it launches?