Flipboard: We Shipped Apple's News App Five Years Ago

Mike McCueMike McCue of Flipboard

Mike McCue, CEO of Flipboard, said Friday that Apple's News app "is something that we actually shipped five years ago." Apple's News app pulls in content from publishers and presents it richly formatted, and it was immediately compared to Flipboard as Apple presented it during Monday's World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) keynote.

Flipboard is a popular app, and Apple certainly took cues from the company for News, its third major effort to be a clearinghouse for published content. And Flipboard is taking the optimistic view at finding itself competing with Apple, noting, "This is not a winner take all situation."

"In the world that we live into today," he said in an interview with the BBC, "you have to be able to work with companies, and even when they’re competing with you on certain fronts that doesn't mean you don’t work with them. [...] And in doing that, what you can typically find are ways in which you can continue to grow."

Apple has a long history of not being first to a market, but generally-speaking, doing things right when it does enter. It's publishing-related efforts began in 2010 with the iPad when then-CEO Steve Jobs made it clear that newspapers and magazines (and book publishers, but that's a separate story) needed saving.

Round one of doing so was working with publishers to make dedicated apps for their publications. Apple later introduced Newsstand, an app that acted as a gathering spot for various publications. It never took off, and on Monday Apple announced the Flipboard-like News app that will replace it.

One key aspect for News is the Apple News Format, which publishers can use to format their content for a "rich experience," including embedded images, typography, and layout. These are things Flipboard didn't offer five years ago, but Mr. McCue's positioning is very understandable.