Google Working on Propeller, a Flipboard Doppelgänger

Google is working on a news and social reader tentatively named Propeller, AllThingsDigital has confirmed through “numerous sources close to the situation” after Robert Scoble kicked off rumors about the app in a Google+ post last week.


“I heard from someone working with Google that Google is working on a Flipboard competitor for both Android and iPad,” wrote Scoble. “My source says that the versions he’s seen so far are mind-blowing good.”

If (when?) the app launches, it will try to steal users away from the likes of AOL with their Editions reader and Yahoo with Livestand. Propeller would also hope to offer an alternative to Facebook’s attempt at social news delivery, with personalized versions of current news on publication Facebook pages.

Early descriptions of Propeller indicate it will be available on Google’s Android tablet as well as on the Apple iPad, where Google will try to give Flipboard a run for their money. Flipboard is the most popular iPad app of its kind and an iPhone version is in the works. Though Flipboard had no plans to develop an Android app, it wouldn’t be entirely surprising if that changed, in light of Google’s plans.

Google is keeping good on their promise to Flipboard execs, who refused to sell to the search giant last year, to create a rival product of their own. Though we have to ask, is innovation in Silicon Valley dying a slow and painful death? Not only is Propeller not a new concept, but you might remember the name from AOL’s old social news voting site.

Poaching names is nothing new in the tech world, though. Google’s epic fail Buzz launched in 2010, two years after Yahoo had a Buzz of a different sort (think Digg) of their own. Facebook, Google, and Foursquare all have Places. AOL and Yahoo both have music apps called Play, launched within months of one another earlier this year.

If Propeller is as good as Scoble says it is and really offers more useful features than Flipboard, paired with greater availability through the Android platform, Flipboard may wish they’d sold when they had the opportunity.

Meanwhile, the guys over at TFTS created this Google Propeller logo mockup:


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