Talking tech since 2003

Flipboard has been a favorite company of mine to cover, because I feel that it’s positioning itself very well for a world where print is rare. What started off as a way to display social content in a magazine-like format became that plus a platform for major print publishers to show their stuff. And now we’re starting to get a glimpse at other areas Flipboard could be useful — today, the company updated both its iOS and Android apps to allow users and companies to create shopping catalogs.

flipboard-catalogNow, these catalogs aren’t necessarily a feature unto themselves. Setting up a catalog isn’t any different than setting up a magazine as far as the process inside Flipboard goes. The difference is what goes on behind the scenes — if Flipboard detects that you’re linking to a product, it’ll display a big red price tag with the price and link it to the page where you can purchase the product. You don’t have to stick to products or normal content inside a magazine, either — you can add both and Flipboard will automatically try to detect what is a product and what is an article, image or video.

To simplify, what Flipboard has done is added the ability for its apps to recognize product pages on the Web and display them in a special way inside a Flipboard magazine. It’ll be neat for companies, no doubt. The only downside I can think of right now is that affiliate marketers will likely go crazy with this feature, just as they’ve done over on Pinterest.

I write for a tech website and I do my best to keep up with deals and discounts, but even I feel inclined to pick up a Best Buy ad on Sunday and browse through it. Imagine that ad showing up in your Flipboard account with little price tags that lead you right to the product page on the Best Buy website. That’s pretty much what is possible with this new feature, though payments will still have to go through Best Buy or whichever retailer you’re buying from. Perhaps Flipboard could act as a middleman someday? It’s a potential revenue stream, though I’m sure the company just wants to build up its library of content at this point.

You can nab the Flipboard update from the App Store or from Google Play right now. If you create your own catalog, feel free to share it here and let us know what you think of the newest feature.

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