… as the company is celebrating its 10 years anniversary
Facebook launches mobile news app Paper for iPhone [ComputerWorld, Jan 30, 2014]
The app reimagines Facebook on mobile devices with a mix of news stories and content from the user’s personal feed
Facebook’s Paper app coming to iPhones only, Feb. 3 [Computerworld YouTube channel, Jan 30, 2014]
The basic user interface consists of a top half of the screen, which displays one post or story with an image, and a second section below, where a number of smaller thumbnails are displayed. Users can then swipe to view more content and tap to see it in detail. Images and videos can be showed in full-screen mode.
The interface has been built from the ground up for touch devices. Users can, for example, tilt their phone to show different parts of a high-resolution panoramic photo from corner to corner, and see faces and other important details up close, according to Facebook.
Paper is the first product from Facebook Creative Labs, which is working on “new apps to support the diverse ways people want to connect and share,” Facebook said.
Whether Paper becomes available for other mobile OSes, including Android, remains to be seen. For now, Facebook is only saying that it will “consider other devices down the line based on feedback.” It also doesn’t have any immediate plans for a tablet version of the app, a spokeswoman said via email.
Mobile is an area where Facebook hasn’t always been successful. Last year, the company introduced Home for Android, which added a new interface layer on top of Google’s mobile OS. It is still available, but hasn’t been a hit among users. With Paper, Facebook is trying to offer a new way to use the social network on smartphones that is much less disruptive than Home.
Since Facebook is a free service it has to add functionality to continue to grow, but it has to be careful and not become too invasive, according to Nick Spencer, senior practice director at ABI Research.
Mobile has become a much more important source of revenue for Facebook. Of the company’s total ad sales during the fourth quarter last year, over half came from ads placed on mobile devices. During the same period in 2012, only 23 percent of the company’s advertising revenue was derived from mobile, it said on Wednesday.
The app will compete with the likes of Flipboard. For an early look, users can visit the app’s website.
Facebook’s Plot To Conquer Mobile: Shatter Itself Into Pieces [TechCrunch, Jan 29, 2014]
Facebook has made a big deal about reorganizing talent to make it so every team builds its own mobile products. On today’s earnings call, it announced that it surpassed the halfway mark for the first time and now 53% of its ad revenue comes from mobile. But it’s the shift to standalone apps that Zuckerberg reveals in the quote above that truly makes Facebook a “mobile-first company”.
Over the next year we might see Facebook giving small teams more freedom to build apps that nail a specific use case and delight a particular audience. That matches The Verge’s Ellis Hamburger‘s sources who say Facebook is planning a suite of standalone apps in 2014. And today on Facebook’s Q4 2014 earnings call, Zuckerberg confirmed the company is focused on building separate apps that let people share different types of content with different size audiences, rather than sharing to all friends through the News Feed.
As Zuckerberg suggested, Groups and Events could be two features unbundled. Facebook launched Groups as a web-first product back in October 2010 and it hasn’t changed much since Facebook got serious about mobile. But today, Zuckerberg said there are now more than 500 million people using Facebook Groups, hinting Facebook might try to capitalize on that interest with a standalone Groups app.
Meanwhile, Events have become one of Facebook’s most unique features. It’s a popular place for organizing and promoting birthday parties, cultural events, club nights, and more. While Eventbrite is often used by organizers trying to throw ticketed events, for gathering people for free events Facebook is far and away the most popular choice. A standalone Events app that offered users a calendar of the upcoming events, discovery of nearby events they haven’t been invited to, and their friends birthdays could gain serious traction with Facebook’s most outgoing users.
And soon, Facebook is expected to launch a reimagined news reading experience we first caught wind of a year ago. More recently, Re/code’s Mike Isaac reports the product is called Paper and will let people share news stories from a variety of publishers and their friends, some of which are curated by human editors working for Facebook.
[Update 1/30/2014 5am PST: Facebook made good on this standalone app strategy by today announcing the upcoming launch of Paper, a curated visual news reader app. The iOS app was built by Facebook Creative Labs, a new initiative born to let small teams within the company build new experiences without worry about screwing up the core Facebook app.]
All of these center around a new insight Zuckerberg outlined on today’s earnings call: People don’t just want to share with all their friends at once. They want to share different types of content with audiences of a variety of sizes. That means sharing status updates and photos, but also links, games, parties, and more with a loved one, a small cluster of friends, a big group of acquaintances, or the general public.
That flexibility lets Facebook host content you might have been scared to share before for fear of annoying people with different interests. The term “Facebook Friend” has evolved a lot in the nearly 10 years since Facebook launched. While once it was just people from the same college, it now encompasses, family, co-workers, and distant acquaintances. There’s only so much that’s appropriate to share with everyone.
Facebook has tried and failed to get us to build friend lists that could stimulate “microsharing”, but the catalyst may be offering whole different apps for different sharing communities. If the strategy works, it could defend Facebook from single-purpose mobile competitors trying to bring it down with a ’death by a thousand cuts’.
“We want to build a handful of great experiences that are separate from what you think of as Facebook today” Zuckerberg said at the end of the earnings call. The path to making the world more connected starts with disconnecting Facebook from itself.
Facebook Turns 10 With New App Strategy [Bloomberg YouTube channel, Jan 30, 2014]
Introducing Paper – Stories from Facebook [news release, Jan 30, 2014]
Today, we’re introducing Paper, a new app that helps you explore and share stories from friends and the world around you.
Paper makes storytelling more beautiful with an immersive design and fullscreen, distraction-free layouts. We’ve also made it easier to craft and share beautiful stories of your own.
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.
Storytelling and sharing have been reimagined in Paper to show stories at their best.
- Everything responds to your touch so you can pick up or thumb through stories with simple, natural movements
- You can tilt your phone to explore high-resolution panoramic photos from corner to corner, and see faces and other important details up close
- Fullscreen autoplay videos come to life and bring you deep into the action
- Beautifully detailed covers make it easy to spot articles from trusted publishers and decide what to read or watch.· Articles unfold in the app and appear fullscreen for a focused reading experience
- When you’re ready to tell your own story, you know exactly what your post or photo will look like because you see a live preview before you share it
Paper is the first product from Facebook Creative Labs, where we’re crafting new apps to support the diverse ways people want to connect and share. The app will be available for the iPhone in the US on February 3rd. For an early look, you can take a tour of Paper.