A Mass Audience for Mobile?


What will it take to achieve mass in mobile?

This question has been on my mind a lot lately (in part because I’ll be addressing it at Publishing Apps Expo in a keynote tomorrow). There’s a lot that stands between mobile, its audience and advertisers: platform incompatibility, development problems, and just plain old lack of a real advertising model. Mobile tends to conflate utility and content into new hybrids we don’t intuitively understand yet.

So it was interesting being briefed yesterday on Flipboard’s next foray out of the iPad and into the iPhone. As you’d expect from one of the most visually stunning iPad apps, great care was taken to adopt Flipboard to its new and inherently more mobile home on a smaller screen.

Co-founder Evan Doll expained the new app is intended to “fill in the gaps in daily moments,” like standing in line at the coffee shop. Browsing is therefore one-handed, flipping is vertical.

What’s really compelling is how this new Flipboard aggregates content into just one app. Not just newspapers and magazines, but also social activity from multiple sources including Facebook and Twitter. This indicates the iPhone version of Flipboard could be the go-to app for iPhone owners. It puts a lot of information into one place with one very pleasing and intuitive interface.

Why this matters from a media perspective is that we’re a long way – a very long way – from mobile mass media. In fact, we’ll likely never get there. But by migrating to the iPhone from the iPad, Flipboard has put itself with reach of millions more users than it’s already more-than-respectable 4M user base. And it’s built compelling content into a beautiful, intuitive UX.

Exactly the direction mobile needs to take to become attractive to advertisers.

Update: The service has proven so popular that Flipboard services have gone down. See what I mean?

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