Float, the social reader iPhone app from document sharing site Scribd’s has added content from another 100 publishers to the 150 launch partners it started with two months ago. As it tries to compete with current social reader faves like Pulse and Flipboard, Scribd is turning its attention to offering ways for publishers to extend subscription services to the Float app as well as advertising.
Before Scribd offers a plan for making money on the Float app, the company is also preparing an iPad app version and one that works on Google (NSDQ: GOOG) Android system.
The goal now though is to catch up to Pulse and Flipboard in terms of appealing to users and publishers. While Scribd won’t reveal how many downloads Float has, it can’t hurt to have a number of popular publications. Among the first pubs to sign on to Float were The Associated Press, Wired, Time (NYSE: TWX) CBSNews.com, CHOW, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post, and InStyle. Among the new wave of publishers signing on are Talking Points Memo, The Atlantic, Time, Techcrunch, Mashable, Motley Fool and others.
Still, with Pulse and Flipboard, along with Instapaper and others, having charted the path for bringing the magazine-like experience to digital reading, it’s worth wondering what can Scribd can do to differentiate Float at this point. The main thing, perhaps, is the Scribd connection, which is fairly well-known to publishers and the more media savvy online users.
San Francisco-based Scribd has been expanding its identity toward satisfying a wider consumer market by offering a middle ground between publishers’ native apps and PDF-style versions of websites for reading on tablets like the iPad. To be sure, for most consumers, tablets and smartphones are still new things and reader apps are not quite mainstream, even now. But that is changing quickly, so Scribd is still not far behind the established rivals in the space.
Float represents the clearest form of Scribd’s attempt to expand its position as a document sharing company to one that is very much a part of major book and magazine publishers’ distribution strategy.
To get the word out, Scribd will be kicking off a marketing campaign sometime next month designed to drive more downloads for Float and showcase its value to publishers.