Facebook’s new Notify app a news traffic game changer?

15 Oct 2015

Apps are the go-to place for news nowadays

Facebook is reportedly set to bring out a dedicated news channel within its app, called Notify, as the social media giant seeks to continue it’s attack on Google’s news traffic market.

News aggregations and, ultimately, the control of news traffic is something that two of the world’s leading tech companies have been battling over for a number of years now.

Google, a search engine that has had its universal popularity emphasised by its use as a verb, was the dominant force in the area for quite a while.

It made sense, too, as people were using so many Google applications, so relying on it to look up news stories was only natural.

However, reports earlier this year surprised us, with Facebook overtaking Google as the social media outlet that drives most traffic to news sites.

It had taken two years of targeted progress but, finally, the app that attracts, perhaps, most of our attention had worked out how to handle our news need.

The rise of apps as a way for people to engage online, or even not engage and merely stare, has been remarkable.

Now amid a tranche of Facebook updates, plans to release Notify, an in-app avenue for genuine news feeds – not what social media-ers consider news feeds – could emphasise its current position.

Facebook Notify app

The Awl reports that Notify will look like the image on the left, and perform like that on the right

As reported by The Awl, the app seems to let users subscribe to news outlets, which then notify them of important stories. A bit like a well-curated Twitter list, but with notifications and less noise.

But Google is simply too mighty, too well versed in the algorithmic processes that we all feed into online, to allow this to happen for any considerable amount of time.

Facebook’s app, so ingrained in many smartphone users’ daily mindset, has given it a huge headstart on other companies that might want in on the news traffic game but, once Google – or indeed Apple – decide on how they want to curate an area like this, it will be immensely hard for Mark Zuckerberg’s company to compete.

Unless, that is, it lands on a winning formula in advance. Although ‘in advance’ is not just the domain of Facebook, with Twitter’s own Moments service rolled out already this month.

So maybe Google, which has been trying to bury news feed capabilities into things like Google Now, will push ahead with something app-based in response, with search engines no longer the be-all and end-all.

Main image via Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic