From Leanback To Stand-Up, iPad’s Flipboard Flips To Phone

After demonstrating how tablets trump smartphones and PCs for leisurely and long-form reading, iPad’s new wave of magazine-like content aggregators is now heading to the smaller screen.

Flipboard’s new iPhone app turns its bigger brother’s page-turning metaphor 90 degrees for a new vertical flip that feels more like a Rolodex than a magazine, and introduces new algorithms to block out less relevant or duplicate content for on-the-go consumption.

It’s not just a different screen – it’s a totally different use-case,” Flipboard co-founder Evan Doll told paidContent in a product preview.

“The iPad is getting used in the evening and is much more a casual experience, usage time is about 15 minutes; whereas, with iPhone, it has to be about grabbing five minutes when you’re walking down the street or getting coffee.”

Pages flip vertically quickly and touching the menu bar flips to the very top of the deck, whilst the new Cover Stories paradigm is “our take on what the highlights are from all your social networks and content feeds”, Doll said.

Because time is shorter whilst mobile, the new feature learns from users’ reading history and social cues to present fewer pieces of content that are more likely to be relevant right now, stripping out duplicate content posted by multiple friends.

“The more you interact with it, the better it will become,” Doll said. “We wanted to create something you get a lot of value for when you’re standing in line at the supermarket.” The technology will likely find its way in to the iPad app, too.

Flipboard’s existing 60+ iPad content partners, who have custom-designed pages, retain flavours of those unique designs through the downsizing, by tweaking a global style template, Doll said.

But the impact on their advertising, which appears to be Flipboard’s primary commercial model, is not yet certain. Though CEO Mike McCue told me, during a panel Q&A at our paidContent Advertising conference in September, that traditional large-screen display ads of the kinds found in newspapers and magazines are better than interactive web ads, the company says it is too early to talk about the smaller screen’s impact on its ad sizes, inventory and sales. But iPhone ads will nevertheless happen “very soon”, Doll said.

Flipboard’s new accounts allow users to get the same set of feeds from their iPad Flipboard on their iPhone. Ultimately, that means, if they have wordy, long-form content coming in whilst mobile, readers may choose to bookmark using Instapaper or Read It Later for reading on a larger device, Doll said.

Flipboard is not yet planning to launch on non-iOS devices and is first taking time to let its new app bed in, as well as to assess the growing number of platforms, Doll said.