Facebook did something laughable today. The company created a new app called 'Paper.' Why is that funny? Because Paper is, essentially, a better Facebook app than the native Facebook app. Funny, right?
A Look Inside Paper
Facebook created Paper as a way for people to search for and browse through news Flipboard-style. In addition to news, the app also provides users with a clear picture of Facebook news feeds. Only, instead of a really bad newsfeed homepage, Paper shows updates in a horizontal way, which makes it much more visually appealing to view what's happening with your newsfeed.
Paper also lets users post messages to both Facebook and Paper (you can build a community), but posting to Facebook through Paper is a much more rewarding experience than anything the plain old Facebook app offers. In short: Paper is a much better Facebook app than the Facebook app is.
Facebook didn't intend for this to happen, of course.
An Interesting Twist of Events
Sometimes, a company needs to step back and work on something else in order to realize that there's a problem with an existing product. I'm betting Facebook didn't know that the current social media app is lacking, but now that Paper has come along it's obvious. Sure, Paper was built with a nice news app solution in mind, but it wound up being a really great Facebook app instead.
The app is so great, reviewers state, that most Facebook app users won't have any interest in the Facebook app once they have had a chance to check out Paper. When will that chance be? Paper will be available on February 3rd, and you can check it out on iOS on that day. Facebook hasn't said whether or not an Android version is planned.
Why Build Paper At All?
This is the question on most minds. Why does Facebook even want to get into a news app? What's the purpose? Right now, Paper is free of ads. But, let's put bets on whether or not Facebook will start clogging up Paper with ads - I give it just a few months. Plus, if Facebook can gather information about what you like to read, that's marketing gold. There's another reason too.
Facebook needs to prove to investors that the company is going somewhere. The social media is quickly dying out, and investors are getting nervous. Facebook's ad schemes aren't really working, and that means that the social network is bound to fizzle out completely unless something saves it. That "something" might just be Paper. Maybe, just maybe, if Paper proves to be a lot of use and fun, people might start heading back to Facebook. Or not.
When you check out Paper on February 3rd, make sure to let me know what you think of this new app. So far, the reviews have been positive, but do we really need more news apps for iOS? Or, at all? Maybe not; but we do need a much better Facebook app, and it looks like that need has been accidentally filled.