Paper, Facebook's highly-lauded, but little-used "story" app, got a small update on Friday that allows it to stand apart from the main Facebook app. The "Great Unbundling" of the social media giant is well underway.
The new update adds the often-used "Birthdays" and "Events" sections into Paper's notification section, two pieces that were previously not part of the Paper pie. Before this update, Paper users had to switch over to the main Facebook app to see those functions, undermining the notion of Paper as a Facebook replacement. Indeed, when Facebook developer Mike Matas gushed over the app to TechCrunch, he noted that missing bit. "There’s some features that it doesn’t have like if uhh….Events is a good example, like if I need to go find an event," he said. That problem no longer exists.
That small update is important because of Zuckerberg's recent comments to The New York Times, in which he said that the future of Facebook is not in the main Facebook app but in smaller, more specifically focused apps. Messenger is for chatting, and Instagram is for artsy photos, for example.
So what is Paper's audience? Thus far, it's being positioned as the Thinking Person's Facebook, full of links to editor-picked stories from higher-quality media outlets and an audience intent on reading. And though the app ranks low on the most-downloaded list, Facebook executives have been pleased with the intensity of its use so far. "Our early signals say that people are spending a lot of time in Paper," Michael Reckhow, Paper's product manager, told The Verge. Paper users look at 80 stories per day, the company told The Wall Street Journal.
Paper is only going to differentiate itself from the main app more in the future. "We’ve tried to keep Paper independent, and focus on the core things we’re doing and not get caught up in larger strategies going on in the main Facebook app," Reckhow said. Unbundle away.