Last year, when Google tried to purchase the innovative content reader application Flipboard, they were greeted with a confident decline. With a $200 million valuation and over 4 million downloads so far, it’s clear why Flipboard thinks they can be plenty successful on their own. But that decision may come back to haunt them. Google told Flipboard that if the company didn’t sell now, Google would be coming back with a product of their own. That product is going to be called Propeller, and it should be launching next week.
Just in case you aren’t entirely familiar with Flipboard, it’s very similar to Pulse in that you can read any type of content (magazines, RSS feeds, social networks) in an interactive, social way. You flip through very minimal page designs that highlight pictures and strong headlines, giving your favorite content a more pleasing layout. You can also share anything you read, and view content from other users that you are connected with. Other companies are looking to get in on this. Yahoo and Google both have versions in the works, going by Livestand and Propeller respectively.
Propeller is an internal name for Google’s new reader, though “sources close to the situation” say the name just might stick. “Currents” is another name under consideration, but either way, the app will do the same thing. It’s going to be HTML 5 based, and will work with both Android and the iPad. There should be a healthy amount of social integration put into Propeller, especially when it comes to Google+. Just yesterday, Google announced a new feature in Google+ called What’s Hot. It’s very possible that Google could not only make What’s Hot a centerpiece for Propeller, but make all of your circles viewable in a slightly less Facebook-esque way. Propeller would also have to work with Google Reader right off the bat if they want to be competitive.
We’ll be keeping a close eye on Google next week when they should be unveiling their latest weapon in the content wars.