Facebook is developing a newspaper platform for mobile devices. Formally called Reader, the service will act as a news aggregator that pulls together a multitude of stories coming from fellow Facebook users, as well as established publishers.
According to the Wall Street Journal, early versions of the design resemble those of Flipboard, a mobile app which collects news articles and social media reactions, and then presents the content in magazine format.
Currently, Reader is exclusively being designed for Apple products, consisting of iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad devices.
This move is a sign that Facebook is trying to reinvent itself, fully knowing that its share price has fallen to just 35% of the initial public-offering price (IPO). The current Facebook interface is primarily used to keep in touch with friends, family and colleagues. It is rarely used in a more professional manner; a space that LinkedIn has effectively cornered. As a matter of fact, LinkedIn has also set its sights on the news industry, acquiring mobile application Pulse for an estimated $90 million.
In another effort to extend its reach, earlier this month, Facebook announced that it would soon add hashtag-compatibility. This move should help the company to compete with Twitter; the rivaling social media destination is widely used to track trending news topics and follow events in real-time.
Unfortunately for Zuckerberg, many analysts believe that a shift to journalism might not go so well. Nate Elliot, who works for Forrester, added, "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."
So what’s pushing Facebook to make such a move? Not surprisingly, profit seems to be the driving force. News sites are an advertisers dream since users traditionally stay connected for an extended period of time. “The opportunity to own the place where people go for long-form reading is a very large opportunity, especially for advertising," explained Josh Elman, a venture capitalist at Greylock Partners.