If you don't know what Flipboard is, don't worry because that means: a) you're a normal human being with a life beyond Twitter b) you just came back from a six month hike in the remote regions of the Sahara desert or c) you're too busy covering the work from your "on vacation" colleagues to care.
So for those of us that may have missed the buzz, a few days ago amid much pomp and circumstance the "latest hot app" was launched into the ever growing pantheon of hot app intros -- the Flipboard. The launch received an unusually potent gaggle of techno-reporter coverage (no doubt fueled by its VC backers Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers).
Gigaom, a well known technology site, glowingly described it as; "... a beautiful application that reformats web articles, photos and status messages into a magazine-style layout. You can use it as an alternate way to consume your Twitter followers' shared links, your Facebook friends' posts and pictures, or other choice feeds of web content."
Another high powered techno-blogger was equally poetic; "The world is about to change. iPad owners you will want to stay up late tonight... Revolutionary." It was positioned as the "world's first social magazine" and one technologist proudly proclaimed his expertise by claiming to have spent 70 hours studying this app. Hmm -- big shoes for one little app to fill.
As I watched this app gather more and more accolades; "save the world; revolutionary; gives iPad a reason for being, beautiful" et all -- the inevitable happened -- the site crashed on its first day.
And amid all this launch frenzy, all I could think was; "Did they lose their perspective on the real world of Judy Consumer?" Why would anyone characterize this as a "world changing app" with a straight face? Why did the media go right along and tout this app as the next big thing to hit the planet? Why would someone who does not work for the company spend 70 hours studying it -- that's nearly two weeks?
But mostly, all I could think, "Who really cares?" While fun, this app does not even begin to solve a real problem for Judy Consumer because this app is really meant to help heavy duty social media users organize all their Twitter and Facebook updates. Judy Consumer does not fall into that category. She does not struggle with Twitter because she probably doesn't use it much (Twitter has about 7% penetration -- well below the tipping point of 15%). Nor is Facebook a challenge for her since women have taken to social networks in bigger numbers than men. So does she need a better way to manage her social information? Probably not today or tomorrow (that's not to say she might not want it one day).
What struck me about this launch is how a nice, fun app managed to get blown out of proportion to what it really is. So here's a suggestion to the techno-media crowd (you know who you are) -- let's reserve the "world is about to change" buzz for when it will really matters -- like when someone invents an app to erase world hunger.
Until then ... a little perspective please.