by Michael O'Neill
February 5th, 2014

Facebook yesterday launched Paper, the latest in a line of standalone apps from both Facebook (Messenger, Home) and Google (Hangouts, Plus, Drive, etc) that shift the focus from a single “Swiss army knife” approach towards a suite of apps for specific purposes.

Facebook is positioning Paper as a standalone app that replaces a lot of the features from the traditional newsfeed, but not as a replacement for the core app. Indeed, it lacks the functionality to do so. Events, for example, are missing. It’s also unlikely to be the last app added to the suite with Facebook promising further apps that “support the diverse ways people want to connect and share”.

However, Paper will target a very small percentage of global smartphone users. Despite Android’s 57% global market share and the huge number of non-US smartphones, Paper will only be available for US-based iOS users. There are currently no plans to develop beyond this for the time being.

The cynic could argue that Facebook is intentionally avoiding its’ biggest competitor (Google) in order to minimise the continued growth of Android. However with monitisation now a high priority at Melno Park, perhaps the real reason is simpler: iPhone users spend more.

Over the holiday period, iOS users spent almost double that of Android, meaning that market share isn’t necessarily the key metric to be studying. As mobile commerce increases, and make no mistake Paper is directly based on mobile behaviour (tilts on hi-res photos for example), should we be really be surprised that the emphasis is moving towards those that spend more?

Both Facebook and Google build their products with data collection and analysis at their heart. While you might not be seeing Paper in Hong Kong or Sydney any time soon, the results of the data gathered could be impacting mobile commerce in a big way.

Ben Bale is vice-president of Digital, Australia, at Weber Shandwick

This article first appeared at Weber Shandwick’s Australia website

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