A Paper-less Facebook?

Everyone’s favorite multi-purpose social network last week released a “reader” for iOS devices that many are saying will eventually replace the company’s seminal newsfeed. It is simply called Paper, and allows the user to meld a handful of topics he or she wishes to follow, i.e., technology, enterprise, pop culture, into one’s newsfeed. ReadWrite’s headline touted the new app:

“Facebook ‘Paper’ App Attempts To Reimagine How You Read The News: Facebook wants to recreate your news feed with a beautiful news app.”

The app uses both vertical and horizontal finger swipes to navigate within a story and from story to story, topic to topic. I’m still trying to figure out where the sharing functions reside, but suffice to say, I like the interface better than Facebook’s cluttered and confusing mobile app (or browser-based version, for that matter). GigaOm writes that

“Facebook’s Paper is Facebook for people who hate Facebook”

Facebook’s new reader “Paper”

(Like me.) When Paper first emerged in my Twitterstream, I wondered how Facebook was able to own such a common (albeit anachronistic) name for its first reader. As it turns out, the world’s largest social network doesn’t exactly have the rights to the brand name Paper. Moreover, the company that does is not too pleased by the surprise embrace of the name. The Verge reports:

“Facebook announced its new, gorgeous mobile app Paper last week, paving the way to today’s launch on iOS. It’s already an impressive new way of navigating Facebook. However, the company is now in hot water over the name, since Paper by FiftyThree, a well-regarded app in the App Store, has been around since 2012. FiftyThree CEO Georg Petschnigg took to the company blog this morning to politely ask that Facebook “stop using our brand name.”

I’m not certain where this will all end up. Facebook could easily make Mr. Petschnigg a very rich man in exchange for the rights to use the brand name. Or, as Mr. Petschnigg suggests:

“There’s a simple fix here. We think Facebook can apply the same degree of thought they put into the app into building a brand name of their own. An app about stories shouldn’t start with someone else’s story.”

The New York Observer postulates that Facebook could care less (thus far) about Mr. Petschnigg’s grievance:

“According to Mr. Petschnigg’s post, Facebook has apologized for “the confusion their app was creating,” and for “not contacting [Paper] sooner,” but it hasn’t actually offered up any kind of solution to the problem.”

Be that as it may, suddenly Paper by FiftyThree is in the news in a positive light.


I wonder how all this controversy affected its download rate? As for Facebook, I imagine it will have to blink — something about David & Goliath.

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