I installed it on the iPad, and like it - very well done app indeed. But I'm a bit skeptical about how revolutionary this will actually turn out to be. After the crazy hype goes away, I think people will realize this is a little less useful than it first seems. Here are two reasons why:
- Duplication - Flipboard is a content aggregator, and aggregators are only useful if they make you stop using the sources they aggregate. A good example (at the time) were RSS readers like Bloglines or Google Reader - if you used those, there was no reason to visit the actual websites of the blogs you subscribed to on your RSS reader. The RSS reader became a much more efficient interface to consuming those blogs.
But if the aggregator does *not* completely replace your access to the aggregated sources (as I suspect will be the case with Flipboard), you start running into an annoying duplication issue which seriously deteriorates your user experience. This is exactly why FriendFeed had no chance in becoming a mainstream success (IMHO). So while Flipboard offers a very nice UI to consuming content shared on Twitter and Facebook, I doubt that many people will actually abandon those services and stop checking their streams. Flipboard is a nice UI, but not a sufficient replacement. And in the long run I think that's going to be it's weakest spot.
- Copyright - bear with me on this, because it will eventually get back to user experience. From what I can tell, Flipboard will be running into copyright issues with the owners of the content it aggregates. They are scraping a significant amount of that content, sans-advertising. I suspect many publishers are not going to like this eventually.
Now you could claim that this is not different from any other RSS aggregator that ever existed, and they had no issue with content owners. But the difference is going to be in advertising. RSS readers have always been in the twilight zone of copyright, and never caused too much debate because none of the major ones placed advertising along the content. So content owners could see the value of getting some exposure and traffic from the RSS reader, yet didn't feel threatened by them monetizing the content via ads.
Flipboard will likely be different - the app is free, and I suspect their long-term business model is to introduce advertising into the magazine/app. They may be able to pull that off if the usage is low. But if they become very successful AND place advertising - they will have the best publishers blocking their content from being pulled into Flipboard. And that's where it gets back to the user experience... the quality of the content on Flipboard will be limited to blogs that are not publishing as a business.
I'm not betting against the company here... Again - the app is very well done, and they have a fantastic team (both the entrepreneurs and investors) so I'm sure they'll pivot their way to a solid path. But I seriously doubt that this will revolutionize the way we consume content as all the hype this week seems to suggest.