Flipboard and Wired to me: We’re ready for Android (really?)

  • Jon Lund 

Flipboard and Wired are two of the most acclaimed and celebrated iPad-magazines. Both are, however, willing to embrace other platforms the minute they’re here. Or are they?

“I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before we’re on other platforms” Mike McCue, CEO of Flipboard told me in an email correspondence, when I asked him if they were planning to make an Android-version of their popular app. (Read my post on what Flipboard is here)

Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of Wired Magazine, was even more to the point, when I asked him if he believed in cross-platform iPad/Android/Chrome-tablet publishing. “Yes!” was the brief answer he wrote back to me.

Helped by Adobe
Chris Andersons statement shouldn’t come as a big surprise, however. Since the initial announcement of the Wired iPad app, Wired have stressed they didn’t plan to play only within Apples walled garden. Being developed in close cooperation with Adobe, the Wired iPad app has been build for easy conversion to other platforms.

Only this week, Adobe unveiled their new digital publishing suite, making it possible for publishers easily to make… yes, right, “Wired-style digital magazine” (in the words of Mashable) ready for, in Adobes words, “cross-platform viewers (running iOS or Adobe AIR®) on the most popular tablets, smart-phones, and devices, as well as through mobile marketplaces such as the Apple App Store and Google Apps Marketplace.”

Strain on editorial ressources
Making the iPad-version of Wired magazine is neither cheap nor easy, however. (Right now it takes some extra +20% editorial ressources for Wired; they’re hoping to get this down to 10-15% as their processes improve – Chris Anderson told me – read on in this post for more details). And no matter how clever Adobes new tools are, cross-platform publication is bound to tie some extra work in the process. Not only the operating system of the viewing devices changes – the hardware on which the tablet edition will have to run will also differ. The different screen-sizes alone will impose burdens to the Wired crew, in their efforts to “a well-designed package, with all the pieces designed to work together and create a coherent whole”, as Chris Anderson put it.

Flipboard: first things first
Mike McCue is aware that cross-platform publication might not just be another walk in the park. The real question is not if Flipboard is going to be available on other platforms, but when this will happen. “How much time between now and then is the real question” he said.

“Right now we are focused on rounding out our product on one platform (rather than de-focusing my team across multiple platforms). That one platform is obviously the iPad because we think it is far and away the best platform for the Flipboard experience with lots of user growth and exciting publisher/content opportunities. It is the epicenter of everything in our space right now.”

To Flipboard it probably also matters, that they still have some way to go, before the product itself – their social tablet magazine – is fully there. After having acquired Ellerdale this summer (official press release here), they’re still working hard on integrating the Ellerdale technology into Flipboard itself (trying to impose a semantic element to the way news menitoned by your friends are prioritized). Actually the priority of getting this stuff right might very well be what Mike McCue hints at in his “rather than de-focusing my team across multiple platforms”).

In our email-correspondence Mike McCue actually ends up stating they’re “watching the rest of the tablet space closely and will be open minded to those if and when someone builds an amazing tablet that we think our users will love.” Apparently not just any Android-tablet will do!

Want to know more?
Mike McCue also elaborated on how Flipboard is turning tweets upside down and on the perspective in the semantic filtering in response to my questions. I hope to get back to these in separate posts.

If you’d like to know more about what Chris Anderson said to me, I’ve written these three additional posts for you: