With the upcoming launch of Apple's iPad, publishers have been rushing to debut new digital designs for their publications. But one thing has been overlooked: many of these changes could be beneficial to PCs.
This week, Google has unveiled a new addition to its RSS reader functionality: Google Reader Play. The new interface is optimized to display content on the iPad. But it also provides a great option for viewing content on the PC.
Google Reader Play is similar to online discovery service StumbleUpon, anyone with a Gmail account can use it. Play bypasses the complications of setting up an effective RSS reader and shows users content relevant to their interests.
According to the Google Reader blog:
"If you sign in, Reader Play will also be personalized with items that people you're following have shared in Google Reader, and items similar to ones you've previously liked, starred, or shared."
Combined with Google's other news products, this could help the search giant bypass user defection from RSS readers. Yesterday at Media Summit, Hunch's Caterina Fake admitted an increasing phenomenon: "Because of Twitter, I've all but abandoned my RSS feed."
Also, the experimental browsing tool is well suited to the iPad. Publishers and advertisers have been excited by that device because it presents a new opportunity for monetization. The theory goes: if they can present a digital interface as well designed and seamless as a magazine, there will be better (read: more expensive) advertising opportunities.
The simplified interface certainly looks better than your typical RSS:
Items are presented individually, and each photo is blown up to bring the reader in. When the reader wants to move on, navigational arrows are presented on either side of the content.
It's not hard to imagine how much better a well-optimized advertisement could be received in the space. Ads could either be served in between pages or on the sides of images. But simplification is key. As The New York Times points out, it could look really nice on a big screen like the television.
But as brands and publishers try to find better ways of delivering content on new screens, computers shouldn't be ignored. Just because monetization has been hard in digital, it doesn't have to stay that way permanently. If publishers are smart, they'll integrate some of the things that excite them about the iPad into their existing properties online.