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In exactly one week, Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL ) is killing its popular Google Reader RSS service. When the search giant announced the closure earlier this year, it sent millions of users scrambling for alternatives. With social media services supplanting RSS as content feeds for many users, Google didn't think it was worth maintaining any longer.
To that end, The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Facebook (NASDAQ: FB ) is preparing to launch a Reader service geared toward mobile consumption. Simply known as Reader internally, the social network has been working on the service for over a year. It's intended to display news content, and reportedly resembles the popular Flipboard app, where users can swipe to flip pages like a digital magazine.
Despite Google Reader's imminent death, there's no indication of when Facebook might choose to unveil its newest mobile offering. Facebook might never launch the service. The company held a media event last week, and the timing would have been perfect for a Reader announcement. Instead, the company launched video sharing on Instagram.
A Facebook Reader service would be notable on a number of levels. It would be the latest replication of popular services that the social network has launched in recent memory. The company has adopted hashtags, which have been widely popularized by rival Twitter, and Instragram video similarly resembles Twitter's Vine app. Facebook's Poke app was also a clear knock-off of Snapchat.
Mark Zuckerberg reportedly wants Facebook to focus more on published content to supplement the user-generated content that has historically been the feature presentation. Professional rival LinkedIn (NYSE: LNKD ) is also moving toward content, acquiring Pulse in April for $90 million. Shortly thereafter, LinkedIn redesigned its LinkedIn Today social news page in order to focus on content discovery through different channels.
As RSS services like Google Reader continue to decline, social media services like Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are stepping up to be the primary content sources in a grab for ad dollars. LinkedIn relies on advertising to a lesser extent, though, with its marketing segment comprising just 23% of revenue last quarter. That broader transition will transfer control of content distribution from an open standard to companies who will soon call the shots, for better or for worse.
Google Reader may be at its end, but Facebook Reader may just be beginning.
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