Do Flipboard’s new challengers have what it takes?

Last month, social media reading app for the iPad Flipboard managed to rake in US$50 million in funding and snag a $200 million valuation, its co-founder and CEO Mike McCue confirmed to AllThingsDigital. Now, the well-funded Palo Alto-based start-up will have to face two new competitors in the increasingly competitive RSS news reader field: Trove and News.me.

Trove was launched by the Washington Post on Wednesday, while The New York Times launched News.me, created in partnership with Bit.ly, just a day later.

Both offer news and headlines based on a user’s social media preferences, but in slightly different ways, PC World reported. Trove is free and “lives independently on the Web,” but also has an iPhone app and an iPad version coming soon. News.me, meanwhile, costs $1 a week or $35 a year. Users can access it on News.me’s iPad app, or sign up online for a daily e-mail digest of news.

Flipboard, meanwhile is “THE product any big media company or, better, any group of media companies should have invented. It’s an iPad application (soon to be supplemented by an iPhone version), it allows readers to aggregate any sources they want: social medias such as Twitter, Facebook, Flickr or any combination of RSS feeds. No need to remember the feed’s often-complicated URL, Flipboard searches it for you and puts the result in a neat eBook-like layout,” media consultant Frederic Filloux wrote in an analysis for Monday Note last week.

GigaOM’s Matthew Ingram also wrote that Flipboard is superior in terms of usability and the ability to customize, and aggregation tools like it do something very important: they are a “much more natural way to consume content on a tablet, and the aggregation they provide is like having a customized newspaper – the so-called “Daily Me” – available any time.” Trove and News.me aren’t as appealing as iPad apps, and are more like “fancier version[s] of their websites.” And although their interactive advertising offerings likely appeal to advertisers, they don’t necessarily appeal to readers, he pointed out.

Instead of viewing companies like Flipboard as competitors, newsmedia companies must begin thinking about them as an important way to monetize their digital content.

Other than Flipboard, the top iPad apps created for news include Instapaper, SkyGrid, Pulse News Reader and Taptu, which Mediabistro reviewed.

Image: News.me

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This entry was posted in aggregation, Digital content, Flipboard, iPad. Bookmark the permalink.

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