Facebook Reader: If It's Not Like Google Reader Or RSS, What is It?


Google Reader will be out by July 1, and this will leave a gaping void in the RSS reader, news aggregation world. Several other services have begun pushing their versions, including newcomers Digg, Feedly. Zite, and AOL

Rumor had it that Facebook, fresh off of its disappointing Facebook Home effort, would also try its hand at the RSS market. The WSJ ran a story on Sunday noting that Facebook is working on a product, code-named Reader, but had few details about how the product worked.

While Facebook has confirmed a development effort to aggregate and improve their mobile news feed, it seems that it will not be jumping into the RSS game. The popular technology webmag Tech Crunch speculates that "this whole Facebook Reader thing is actually just Facebook’s next evolution of the mobile news feed ... If Facebook were to completely overhaul the look of the mobile news feed in its main Facebook for iOS and Android apps, that would be a product worthy of years of work and design revisions."

Further, Tech Crunch has confirmed that "Reader" is being led by Mike Matas, a well known user interface design visionary and photographer. They believe that Matas’ role in the project "lends weight to the idea that Facebook Reader is big on visuals and images, rather than text and RSS."

Facebook’s top spot as social networ-King [see what I did there?] is never safe. Zuckerberg and investors are reading the same headlines as the rest of us. New, innovative social sites are showing promise and younger web users no longer see Facebook as the cool, digital escape from their parents. Facebook’s steady stream of feature updates, and ventures into new markets, are all a part of its maturation process.    

It’s too soon to know exactly what the code-named Facebook Reader app is exactly, but there is no doubt that Facebook would like to position itself for continued success among a growing field of creative and niche sites. It hopes to transform your current newsfeed, from a disjointed collection of stories about your friends into a streamlined way to browse, discover, and consume the entire web.  

If you ask me, the oft-ignored Google+ is already doing just that with their thorough and expansive, though slightly confusing version of a newsfeed. But hey, maybe it’s a good thing that Google doesn’t win at everything. The battle for more eyes, and eventually more advertising dollars, continues.