Facebook rolled out a new mobile feature today called Instant Articles, one that a blogger at the Verge calls a "turning point in the evolution of the news." The feature lets publishing companies that have partnered with Facebook post stories onto news feeds that load instantly—a far cry from typical mobile Web stories—even with video and interactive features. Nine big names have signed up to start, including the New York Times, National Geographic, and BuzzFeed. They can sell ads on the articles themselves and keep all the revenue or have Facebook sell the ads and split the money; the articles are hosted on Facebook's servers. The feature, available only on iPhones for now, "is something more than a new user experience for opening the links you find on Facebook," writes Casey Newton at the Verge. "It's a new publishing format. And it's one that publishers are going to take very seriously."
Some other reaction:
- Lara O'Reilly, Business Insider: "This could be the future of news on the web, making news articles even easier to publish and share among Facebook's vast audience. Or it could further hurt news publishers by stealing the business they have developed on the web and transferring it into an arena controlled by Facebook."
- Danny Sullivan, Marketing Land: "The bigger concern to me is that having a giant like Facebook suck so much content effectively within its walled garden gives license for that other giant, Google, to do the same. ... My gut says if we eventually have both Facebook and Google offering to host everything in the name of speed and user experience, that's not a good thing."
- Gabriel Sherman, New York: This is a "tectonic shift in the publishing industry," he writes, framing it mostly as a deal between Facebook and the New York Times. "As much as anything, the Facebook deal is a concession by Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. that the paper's app strategy failed to produce the turnaround the company hoped for. Now the Times is throwing its fate into Facebook's hands."
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