Matthew Ingram on GigaOm had this to say about Flipboard:
But I wonder whether the flip-style interface for the app isn’t inherently contradictory to using it as a business or work tool — since it seems more like browsing as you flip through pages, does that make less appealing as a serious content consumption or information-intake tool?
Oddly enough the night before I read Ingram’s piece I made a note for a blog post idea in OmniFocus, that note was titled “Flipboard — useless” and in the notes field I wrote:
I digest. It browses.
Which is a rather incomplete thought meant to spur my brain when I would later see the note. Ingram said it better in the title to his blog post:
Is Flipboard Too Much Fun to Be Useful?
The short answer is: yes, but only for power users.
What started me thinking about all of this was an email I got from my dad pointing me to a blog post he read — at the bottom of this email was a line that said: “(Sent from Flipboard)”. This shocked the hell out of me — my dad uses Flipboard? I don’t even use Flipboard…
So the question is: why does my Father use Flipboard and not me?
The answer is rather easy: Flipboard promotes a browseable news experience — I being a power user prefer not to browse news — I prefer to consume news. It is the difference between an electronics store like Fry’s (or if you are old enough to remember when Radio Shack used to have parts to fix stuff) and a boutique store that you find at an over priced galleria in Beverly Hills.
At Fry’s you need to dig to find what you want — the reward though is often low prices on something you never knew existed. A boutique store shows you just a tiny bit, while the rest may be lying behind the curtain you miss it and keep looking at other things. To me that is the difference between an app like Reeder and something like Flipboard.
Flipboard is a great app for most casual users — what it isn’t and what it doesn’t pretend to be: is an app for power users.
Essentially my problem with FlipBoard is that it does too good of a job curating the content it displays. That was true at least until the most recent update, as you can now link FlipBoard to Google Reader — all of your RSS subscriptions displayed in FlipBoard.
That maybe a pretty cool feature for people that subscribe to just a handful of sites, but when you subscribe to more than 500 and are getting around 50-100 new items each hour — well flipping through virtual pages becomes highly inefficient.
Flipboard is perfect for the audience it targets and truly it doesn’t surprise me that someone like my Dad uses it. The problem is that the casual browsing nature of FlipBoard is just wasted time for a power user that knows what they are looking for. Thus the reason that I prefer a less visually stimulating app1 like Reeder.
I think it is a great way to tell how serious people are about news: serious users are not serious Flipboard users – it just doesn’t meet their needs.
In the sense that Flipboard shows pretty pictures all over the place. ↩