Instead of porting print content to the iPad, as many old-school publishers are doing, the guys behind Flipboard decided to make something truly native to tablet computers. Not only is their app far more appealing, it's actually way cheaper.
Launched amid significant press hype today, Flipboard mines your Twitter and Facebook friends for interesting articles and videos to show in a swipe-friendly magazine format. It also takes mundane status updates from your friends and turns them almost into magazine articles, with blown-up pictures (where possible) and headlines. Using some of their $11 million in seed capital, the Apple engineer and Silicon Valley entrepreneur behind Flipbook are giving the software away for free in the iPad App Store. And yet, by seizing on the connectedness of the iPad, along with its large, beautiful screen, they've created something far more valuable than a $5 magazine download.
The Wall Street Journal's Katherine Boehret gave the software a generally positive review. Specifics aside, though, what's intriguing about Flipboard is the message implicit in the product: News today is more and more about sharing and less and less about broadcasting, and even a device as inventive and popular as the iPad isn't going to reverse that trend.