Google Currents Takes on Flipboard, Other Elegant Newsstand Apps

googleThe world’s largest Internet search company, Google, today unveiled a new HTML5-powered news and media aggregator for mobile and tablet devices, Google Currents, that elegantly displays user customized content from a number of sources, including from Google News, Google Reader, RSS Feeds, and even the company’s latest social network Google+.


Google Currents demo on tablets
Source: Google, via YouTube


Flipboard running on iOS

Google has partnered with more than 150 publishers to start, including popular publications like AllThingsD, CNET, among others, to offer content. Smaller publishers can also customize their own web content on Currents by using the new Currents self-service platform.

The company said in a blog post, “Today we’re expanding our content offering with the introduction of Google Currents, a new application for Android devices, iPads and iPhones that lets you explore online magazines and other content with the swipe of a finger.”

Google Currents is now available in the Android Market and in Apple’s iOS App Store, but only in the United States. The app is not available outside of the U.S. (even to Canadian users) from official channels.

Arguably, the best digital newsstand aggregator (perhaps until now) app, Flipboard, already offered users an elegant way to organize and consume news and information.

Flipboard also supports social media channels, including Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and syncs with Google Reader.

Flipboard has raised about $65-million in VC funding to date.

Yahoo also offers a similar product called Livestand.

The high stakes rush to create apps that beautifully present aggregated/syndicated content on mobile devices is sure to lead to even more creative interfaces, but in hindsight, the real challenge will be how to monetize these free apps to generate an excess return for investors above the cost of capital in the longer run, because, at this point, it appears consumers have very little reason to dish out cash for premium features.

This challenge will likely prove even more difficult for smaller competitors like Flipboard who don’t have the leverage nor scalability of other top players like Google and Yahoo who are already perfectly positioned in the marketplace.

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Tahir holds a Bachelor Commerce Finance degree from Ryerson University in Toronto. He is planning to purse an MBA in Finance. Write to [email protected]
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