8/5/10

Flipboard Is An Enhancement ... Not A Replacement

Flipboard's "Cover" Is Visually Stimulating
With Google's announcement yesterday that it is going to wind down Google Wave at the end of the year and move the pieces around to other products, the blogosphere and twitterverse have been full of "Ha!! You early adopters can suck it!!" comments. There's also a lot of discussion of what's early adopter product can we expect to fail next? One product that I've seen mentioned is the iPad social media viewer Flipboard. I'm going to stick my neck out on this one and say that it will not fail like Google Wave did, and that I find it to be both a useful and a fascinating resource to use to keep up with news, social media, and other forms of media and entertainment.

Here are a few of the reasons that I think that Flipboard will not become the next Google Wave.
  1. It is visually stimulating.
  2. It is very easy to use.
  3. It is a fast way to get information.
  4. It is on a platform filled with early adopters and early majority users.
  5. It is an enhancement of... not replacement of other social media tools.
  6. It stands in a space all to itself.
A few days ago, Scott Preston asked if there was a Windows product that rivaled Flipboard. No one could come up with anything that they could point to that would be a direct competitor to Flipboard (especially in the Windows market.) Perhaps as other tablet devices are released, the competition will grow.
I saw some comments this morning that people are abandoning Flipboard because it is not an RSS feed reader like Google Reader. That is true, and if you're looking for an RSS reader, then there are a number of products out there (I primarily use Google Reader... but I hear there are other good products.) However, if you absolutely won't use Flipboard because it doesn't work as an RSS reader, then here is a workaround that I found from a Flipboard community bulletin board:
  • Make a folder in gReader and fill it with feeds you want Flipboard to have.
  • Make the folder public.
  • Create a new Twitter account.
  • Use an RSS to Twitter service to spit the feed from the public folder into the new Twitter account.
  • Follow that account with Flipboard.


I haven't tried this yet, but I do like how you can follow Twitter Lists that you or others have set up. We still get a lot of hits on our "convert your Twitter Lists to RSS feeds" post that we did last year, so I know that people are still hungry for this type of information. Putting those lists in the Flipboard platform really makes it pop out at you, too!  The picture to the right is an example of taking @lawshucks/aba100 twitter list and turning it into content on Flipboard. I would have completely missed @corporette's tweet on appropriate one-piece dresses for the workplace had it not been for Flipboard... and that would have been sad.
Flipboard is a fast way to get information from many different sources (twitter, facebook, news/entertainment feeds, etc.) However, it is not a one-stop, everything-you-could-ever-want resource. I follow 2,700+ people on Twitter, so even with Tweetdeck and other resources, I miss a lot of things. I'm okay with that. Using Flipboard... in addition to Tweetdeck... I get more of a chance to catch things as they swim by in the twitter stream of information. 




Google Wave failed primarily because it was a confusing tool to use. It looked cool in the demo, but once you jumped in, it was a monster to navigate and use effectively. Not so with Flipboard. My pre-teen daughters could set this thing up in a few minutes and start flipping through the content. Even better, my 72 year old Dad could also be flipping through the content and not blink an eye. It is easy to use, easy to set up, and easy to navigate. I've always loved the quote I used to get from when I was working in a mainframe shop at the University of Oklahoma - "Making something is pretty easy.... Making something easy is pretty difficult." Flipboard developers have definitely made something easy.
Finally, I love the look and feel of the product. When I'm drinking coffee in the morning, I flip through the content and find all kinds of relevant and interesting things to read, watch and look at. It's become my morning newpaper (and I haven't had a morning newspaper delivered to my house in 10+ years.) Unless Flipboard starts charging for content, or gets shutdown for legal reasons, I don't see any reason why I would stop using it.


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