It's safe to say that iPad owners flipped for Flipboard last year. So did Apple, which named it the iPad app of the year, and Time magazine, which named it one of the 50 best inventions of the year.
Why the love? Because for all the hype about the tablet being the savior of traditional media, the innovations of traditional print and TV content providers have largely been simply what you'd expect they would look like, re-created for the new devices. It took an outsider to try a fresh approach.
Launched last summer, Flipboard created a "social-media magazine" that turned tweets and Facebook posts into content, and delivered them in beautiful magazine layouts on a digital, swipeable interface. With a year-end update, Flickr and Google Reader were added to the lineup, along with additional social-media capabilities.
The startup is beginning to address some of the concerns it ushered in, namely about how Flipboard aggregates content without publishers' consent and what happens to the accompanying advertising, as well as its own revenue plans. It's been testing Flipboard Pages since December with content deals across eight media partners including ABC News, News Corp.'s All Things Digital, Conde Nast's Bon Appetit, Lonely Planet and the Washington Post Magazine. Flipboard worked with each to create custom layouts for full-article content, and includes ads around those articles. Initial advertisers include Pepsi, Gatorade, Infiniti and Levi's and publishers get a revenue share.
With $10 million in initial funding, Flipboard has plenty of time for trial and error. Flipboard CEO and co-founder Mike McCue told Bloomberg Television that it has "a couple of years' worth of cash in the bank," which allows his team to focus on the user experience and "do right by the reader and the publisher and build a model that's really sustainable."