Facebook has released its Paper app in the iTunes App Store today. Paper, a beautifully designed news reading app, features a human and machine-curated feed of articles based on the user’s customized interests. The app has received generally positive reviews from press thus far. No news yet on when or if it will be released on Android. However, despite the overall excitement over the new app, Facebook has also received some backlash. $15 million-funded FiftyThree also has an award-winning iPad app named Paper, and its leadership has expressed disappointment with Facebook releasing its newest app under the same name. Georg Petschnigg, CEO of Paper by FiftyThree, wrote a post on the company blog regarding the matter:
“So it came as a surprise when we learned on January 30th with everyone else that Facebook was announcing an app with the same name —Paper. Not only were we confused but so were our customers (twitter) and press (1,2,3,4). Was this the same Paper? Nope. Had FiftyThree been acquired? Definitely not. Then, what’s going on?
We reached out to Facebook about the confusion their app was creating, and they apologized for not contacting us sooner. But an earnest apology should come with a remedy.”
The rest of the blog can be found on Paper’s site.
Unfortunately for Paper by FiftyThree, the app is trademarked under the name “Paper by FiftyThree” so Facebook may have legal rights to continue using the name Paper. Depending on Facebook’s decision, this could be a David and Goliath story between Facebook and FiftyThree.
“There’s a simple fix here. We think Facebook can apply the same degree of thought they put into the app into building a brand name of their own. An app about stories shouldn’t start with someone else’s story. Facebook should stop using our brand name.” – Georg Petschnigg, Co-founder & CEO of Paper by FiftyThree
Both apps are stunning and extremely well designed, but Facebook is now a tech giant. And even though it’s technically legal, it’s not very courteous of the company to disregard the smaller but also well-loved Paper app by FiftyThree and use the name. Facebook could have easily picked a different but just as powerful name for its app.
Name dispute aside, both apps are fantastic and worth the download. However, the fact that Facebook’s Paper is not available for Androids could potentially make half of Facebook’s smart-phone audience feel neglected, myself included.