In 2010, when Flipboard debuted, it called itself a “social magazine.” At the time, that meant that it pulled in content from your friends’ Twitter and Facebook feeds and displayed them in prettified, browsable form on an iPad.
Eight years later, Flipboard is available on tablets, phones, and the web. It’s still about mingling disparate stuff into an approachable magazine-esque package. But over the years, the company’s approach to aggregation has kept on evolving. The articles you see in the app now get there through a combination of curation by other users, media outlets, and Flipboard editors, along with a dash of AI. The effort you invest in choosing Flipboard magazines and topics to follow is also a factor. And the sheer diversity of material to explore—on subjects from politics to pizza to pandas—is part of the idea.
For the Flipboard update that’s launching today, however, it decided to focus on one subject: technology. It’s not exactly a shock that the sort of people who like to stay current by reading Flipboard often have a professional interest in the tech industry; now the company is tailoring itself to cater to such folks all day long. “It’s an opportuntity for us to experiment with a whole different use case, informing you at work,” Flipboard CEO Mike McCue told me when he recently gave a sneak peek at the new version.
This ramp-up of tech coverage involves several tweaks:
- On the web, the tech section now looks a little less like a beautiful magazine you might enjoy losing yourself in. Instead, it has the look of an information-packed newspaper, with dense columns of stories that let you efficiently skim, and sub-sections on various topics.
- The company is building on its existing group-magazine curation tools to let coworkers share articles from around the web with each other in private magazines, allowing teams to build a sort of secret Techmeme customized to their own interests. (You can also choose to make these magazines public.)
- If a group creates a collaborative magazine, stories that members have shared in it will show up in their Flipboard technology section as well as the daily tech briefing they can receive by email.
- Flipboard is ramping up its tech news-and-information curation efforts, with more hand-picked stories from partners such as TechCrunch, The Verge, and Wirecutter.
- It’s also instituting a weekly feature in which various people (including, full disclosure, me) recommend tech-themed books. Links to these books on Amazon, along with affiliate fees from Wirecutter recommendations, will give the company a source of revenue beyond its historic advertising-based business model.
Why center this new initative on technology rather than implement a broader strategy to make Flipboard more useful in a business context, no matter what the business? McCue told me that enough of it involves hand-crafted work on the company’s part, such as selecting stories from content partners, that it made sense to start with a popular topic. But he also rattled off a bunch of other industries and professional interests where something similar could make sense, including design, healthcare, science, and transportation. In such areas, where “there’s a lot of news, there’s a lot going on, and it’s hard to keep tabs on it all,” he says, “there’s going to be these opportunities for us to take a particular vertical and really go deep.”