Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Paper, the app, versus Paper, the app


A few years ago, interest (both mine and the rest of the world's) was growing rapidly in mobile devices and their companion apps. One of the things I found interesting was that some of them evoked paper-and-print related concepts, starting with their names, even if in some cases it was more metaphorical than concrete, compared to the "printing apps" I also covered early on and which were often the only means for users to print from their devices, at least in the beginning (for example, see "iPhone Printing Boom").

Beginning in November 2010, I explored a few of the ones in the "metaphorical" category in some detail in a three-part "Observations" series, summarized in the opening paragraph (below) to part three (see "February 2011 Observations - If It Sounds Like Print and Looks Like Print, Is It Printing?").

[February 24, 2011] Since my November 2010 Observations column on ACTPrinter (“All That Glitters...”) and January 2011 Observations column on paper.li (“Paper as a Metaphor”), I have been tempted to fall back on the old saw, “If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck...” and conclude that these products confirm the importance of printing in our new world, but this is not the case! In fact, these two solutions with print or paper in their names do not actually mean paper or printing in any material sense at all. In the same vein, I offer the conclusion of my three-part series with this month’s feature attraction, Instapaper, the very popular viewing app for iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch (Apple iOS) and other platforms, including Web browsers and Amazon Kindles.

Now a battle brews on the naming of two quite different apps carrying the same, simple moniker, i.e. "Paper". The newest is from Facebook, launched officially on Monday, February 3rd, 2013, the day before the company's 10th birthday, today, February 4, 2013. While I've already downloaded it on iPhone and given it a run for its money (pretty impressive), the first word I had on it (see screenshot below) came from one of my current MOOCs from Coursera and Northwestern University, "Content Strategy for Professionals: Engaging Audiences for Your Organization".

A screenshot from one of my current "MOOCs" - this one Coursera/Northwestern's "Content Strategy"
(MOOCs and the broader topic of the Future of Higher Ed deserve a post, or more likely an entire blog, of their own one of these days!)

The other "Paper", from FiftyThree, Inc., is a well-regarded "design" app, as opposed to Facebook's "viewing" app - and I recognize the danger of simplifying these descriptions down to one word. In a Marketwatch blog (see "Facebook in trademark spat over 'Paper'"), as well as in many other places, we now read about the trademark issues.

Much like with Apple and "iPhone", it seems like Facebook clearly knew of the existing product (in Apple's case it was Cisco desktop IP-telephony product line). Interesting to see that the Facebook strategy seems to be to go ahead with the launch anyway, and let the chips fall where they will! (See "How Apple Acquired the iPhone Trademark from Cisco".)

Stay tuned...

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