MyPad and the Coming Facebook Wars on the iPad

9/2/11Follow @wroush

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click on the URLs in tweets or Facebook status updates and read the original articles in a slide-out browser window without leaving the app, just as in Twitter’s application. As you might expect, you can also use MyPad to review your Facebook friend list, messages, groups, and notifications. The photo albums are especially nice—the Loytr engineers added a full-screen slide show feature with Ken Burns animation.

But it wouldn’t be a surprise if Facebook duplicated all of this, except for the Twitter integration, in its own iPad app. It’s MyPad’s other features—both existing and forthcoming—that may make it a viable alternative to Facebook’s own app on the iPad. When I met with Ratias this week and quizzed him about his post-f8 plans, he walked me through some roadmap details that make me optimistic about the startup’s prospects.

“Our goal has never been to be a Facebook client—but it was a great customer acquisition strategy,” Ratias confessed. Now that Loytr has a community spending 20 million minutes per day on its platform, he says, the startup plans to add features that will turn the app into a “social discovery platform” for games, music, and other apps. Basically, the idea is to make MyPad into a place where users can see which digital attractions have caught their friends’ attention, with Facebook functioning merely as the social graph that ties users together.

Already, Loytr has partnered with several mobile game makers, including TinyCo and CrowdMob, to place buttons in the games section of its navigation bar that launch iPad and iPhone games such as Tiny Zoo and Mob Empire. Within a few weeks, Ratias says, the startup will add a feature that allows MyPad users to see which games other MyPad users are playing. (Users will only see data about their Facebook friends—that’s the social graph part.)

Shortly after that, Ratias says, the startup will branch out beyond games, giving MyPad users the ability to share a complete list of the apps installed on their iPads or iPhones. The overall idea is to help users find new apps by letting them see what apps their friends are buying and using. The benefit for Loytr is that every time a MyPad user discovers and buys a paid app this way, it will earn an affiliate commission from Apple. (Ratias says the company’s data shows that MyPad users already spend $1 million a month in the iTunes Store.)

Ratias is a little more reticent when it comes to Loytr’s plans to pull music into the mix. But it’s not hard to imagine how users might share information about the playlists programmed into their iPod apps (Ping done right?), with the resulting music sales generating even more affiliate commissions.

Facebook is certainly one of the channels by which today’s digital games, music, apps, movies, and other content go viral, but it was never designed to lead communities of users directly to this content, Ratias argues. That’s where MyPad will step in, Ratias says. The way things work today, “you have to discover an app, then download it, then you hit a certain point where … Next Page »

Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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