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A Tale of Two Paper Apps

Today the official new Facebook reader app Paper was released in the states. Being a Brit I, of course, couldn’t access it without doing a little iTunes magic.

However there is another smaller story that brings about a couple of classic narratives and touches on the issue of bigger companies vs smaller companies. The tale of two Paper Apps.

You see for a while now there has been another app called Paper. In fact, it’s a fairly popular app that has been downloaded over 100 million times and even was selected as one of Apple’s top apps for 2012.

It’s hardly like this was a small application not making any money that someone had made in their spare time. In fact, there are investors who are part of Facebook who have invested in Paper.

When Is A Brand Name Confusing?

One of the fundamental rules of business is you don’t take the same name if it’s going to confuse people. This is normally pretty simple,

  • In America, a company makes computers and is called Apple.
  • a company in America makes shoes and decides to call themselves Apple = no problem
  • A company in Britain decides to call themselves Apple computers UK = problem.

But it can get more awkward, like when Apple got into the music business with iTunes and there was Apple music run by the Beatles.

With App names you would think it should be very easy, use a different name. In fact Facebook Paper doesn’t sound too bad and is what many people are referring to it as, but I wonder if that is because we can’t simply state “Paper app” or “the new app Paper” as that could get confusing with FiftyThree’s app.

Not The First Time

FiftyThree aren’t alone here. Not that long ago App Cubby had to rebrand as Contrast due to LogMeIn releasing an application called Cubby. Note that App Cubby was the company name but you can easily see how this could get confusing especially as Cubby offers a storage solution and some of App cubby’s apps offered a form of storage.

FiftyThree have asked for clarification from Facebook and asked the question of what story will they choose to tell. The one of the company who realises an error and corrects or Bullies the smaller guys.

Personally, I hope it is the former but we’ll have to wait and see.

P.S. For more head over to Fifty Three’s release,

P.P.S. I also really recommend David Barnard’s interview on Command Space if you are interested in hearing more about his legal battle.

P.P.P.S The feature Image was of course made via Paper from FiftyThree

About Chris Wilson

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