Kooaba is trying to bring the worlds of printed news and virtual content closer together with its Paperboy iPhone app. This app, which is currently only available in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, allows users to take pictures of articles from a range of popular magazines and papers and then see additional content about these articles on their iPhones. Paperboy will also make a digital version of the article available in your Kooaba archive and users can then share this article with their friends by email and on Facebook and Twitter.Swiss startup
Note: Paperboy isn't available in the U.S. version of Apple's App Store. In the U.S., only Kooaba's app for recognizing books, DVD covers and other physical objects is currently available. Kooaba also worked with Wired last year to make some of the magazine's advertisements more interactive.
Kooaba, which specializes in image recognition and already offers similar recognition tools for book and CDs, is working directly with a number of magazine publishers in the German-speaking world. The company plans to bring its services to other countries as well. Sadly, the service doesn't work for papers and magazines that don't work directly with Kooaba to get their content featured on the app. Kooaba needs a PDF version of the magazine to train the service's image recognition software.
Besides making the article available for online reading and sharing, Paperboy's partners can also include links to their Facebook and Twitter profiles, as well as links to related articles and videos.
Magazines and papers can also choose to charge their users for accessing extra content through Paperboy. In addition, advertisers can embed related links to their web sites whenever somebody scans a relevant article or print ad.
Overall, this looks like an interesting concept. Even though the newspaper and magazine business is in the middle of a deep crisis, print won't go away for a while and applications like Paperboy can help print publishers to bridge the gap between their traditional publications and their online presence. The question, however, is if other technologies like QR codes aren't easier to use for publishers who just want to embed a link into an article for example.