Thu 29 Jul
I’ve gone on record with my general lack of enthusiasm for magazines on the iPad, at least the way they’ve been imagined so far, but I think the self-described “social magazine” Flipboard shows a lot of promise. It’s a smart idea but like a lot of the smartest ideas it’s not a particularly ingenious one on its face: the app aggregates recommendations and links to content made by people within your social network. The beauty is in its execution, which happens to be gorgeous and an example of truly superior user experience design (from what I’ve seen so far). Flipboard’s developers have built an impressive mechanism for automated layout intelligence, and the pages within the app winningly transcend the paradigm of digital templates as aesthetically unremarkable, one-size-fits-all showcases for content.
Unfortunately, Flipboard is also a victim of its own success. The initial reaction has been wildly out of scale with even the company’s most optimistic predictions, causing ridiculous backlogs for customers who want to experience the product in its entirety. In fact, based on these emails I received this afternoon — in which I was granted access to the full feature set and then informed that notice was a mistake — I would say that, sadly, Flipboard is currently writing a case study in how not to launch a product. It’s a shame, because I think they have real promise. I wish them the best as they get through this terrible start.