Facebook’s new plan to host news publications’ stories directly is not only about page views, advertising revenue or the number of seconds it takes for an article to load. It is about who owns the relationship with readers.
– Steve Jobs
Tech companies have always stepped on one another’s toes to try to become people’s gateway to the digital world — the only place people need to go to get what they want. It’s why Google, a search engine, started a social network and why Facebook, a social network, started a search engine. It’s why Amazon, a shopping site, made a phone and why Apple, a phone maker, got into shopping.
Now, their reach is extending wider, to nontechnology companies like newspapers and magazines. Or, put another way, all kinds of companies are now becoming tech companies.
Facebook’s experiment, called instant articles, is small to start — just a few articles from nine media companies, including The New York Times. But it signals a major shift in the relationship between publications and their readers. If you want to read the news, Facebook is saying, come to Facebook, not to NBC News or The Atlantic or The Times — and when you come, don’t leave. (For now, these articles can be viewed on an iPhone running the Facebook app.)