Google skips Web shopping, ports paper catalogs directly to the iPad

There is simply no way to avoid mobile tablets in the publishing world.

Magazines like Glamour, GQ, Gourmet Traveller, The New Yorker, People, Popular Science, Vanity Fair, and Wired have all debuted subscription apps for iPad, Newspapers are toying with the subsidized tablet model, new college textbooks are being written specifically for tablets…and good old fashioned "dead tree" books…well, we may still love them, but they're being outsold by e-books.

Paper catalogs, a staple of American retail since the 1860's, are being updated en masse to tablet applications too.

Following in the footsteps of last year, Google on Tuesday released a free iPad app called Google Catalogs that lets users browse digital catalogs and buy items online, find nearby stores, share products via email, and assemble collages of catalog pictures.'s app, now almost a year old, has a much larger selection of catalogs for users to browse, but Google appears to have gone for a higher quality interface with brand name retailers only such as Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters, LL Bean, Crate and Barrel, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Williams-Sonoma, among others.

Taking web-based content and putting it in an easily digestible iPad magazine-style format is typically called "the Flipboard treatment," but it appears that Google has actually bypassed the Web-based shopping experience in the app entirely, and has brought the actual paper catalogs into app form.

In this way, Google Catalogs is nothing like Flipboard and very different from's app.

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