REPORT: Facebook Developing Mobile News Reader

The big debate last week was over whether Facebook would announce a video-sharing feature for Instagram or some sort of RSS news reader. Video on Instagram was the winner, having been unveiled at a press event at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., Thursday, but don’t bury the news reader just yet.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Facebook has been working on a service that it refers to internally as Reader, which would enable users with mobile devices to see content from other Facebook users and publishers in a visual format created for their devices.

The social network has been working on Reader for more than one year, according to the Journal, which added that Reader is aimed at news content in particular, and that recent versions being tested are similar to mobile app Flipboard.

According to the Journal, Facebook Product Designer Mike Matas is the lead designer on the Reader project.

When Facebook Co-Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg introduced the social network’s revamped News Feed in March, he compared it with a newspaper, saying:

What we’re trying to do is give everyone in the world the best personalized newspaper we can. We believe that the best personalized newspaper should have a broad diversity of content. It should have high-quality public content from world-renowned sources, and it should also have socially and locally relevant updates from family, friends, and the people around you. It should also enable you to drill into any topic that you want to discuss.

Josh Elman, a venture capitalist at Greylock Partners who previously worked on products for Facebook and Twitter, told the Journal:

The opportunity to own the place where people go for long-form reading is a very large opportunity, especially for advertising.

Forrester Research Analyst Nate Elliot was not as optimistic, telling the newspaper:

There are a lot of things people didn’t do on Facebook several years ago that they now do, but I imagine it’s going to be very hard to retrain consumers to see Facebook as a go-to hub for news.

Readers: Are you intrigued by Facebook’s Reader?

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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