There have been whispers that Facebook’s on the verge of launching a news reader designed to compete with Flipboard for since at least mid-2013. Things have been relatively quiet on that front for the past couple of months, but there’s fresh evidence that the product may well be on its way.
According to re/code, the reader could emerge as early as the end of January.
Called “Paper”, the reader is meant to be a mobile-focused news reader app (hence the Flipboard comparisons) although at this stage it’s unclear whether it will be a standalone app or just a web experience designed specifically for mobile. If it’s the latter, then it would be a massive turnaround from Mark Zuckerbeerg’s suggestion that using HTML 5 on mobile was the biggest mistake he ever made with Facebook.
According to re/code’s source, Paper will collate articles from leading news providers alongside Facebook status updates and present them in a style that hearkens back to a time before the internet.
The team building Paper originally set out to completely overhaul the Facebook newsfeed, but a series of delays and design refreshes meant that the project was split into different parts.
The project does make sense, given Facebook’s push towards news and, if it takes off, Paper could help push engagement and advertising on the social network.
That final step may, however, be the most difficult part of the process. As Home (Facebook’s last big product) showed us, all the clever coding and good intentions in the world won’t necessarily get people to use your product.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that the market for mobile readers is already pretty saturated and Facebook is entering the game at a seriously late stage.
Facebook declined to comment on the story.