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Catalog creation isn't limited to retailers, though some of the features listed above -- namely, zoomable images and a shopping cart -- are only available to retailers who partner with Flipboard to integrate that functionality. You can also make your own catalogs by "flipping" products -- much like you would "pin" products to Pinterest -- using a dedicated bookmarklet. Actress Alyssa Milano and designer Cynthia Rowley are among those who have already curated catalogs for launch.
The new shopping features are extremely limited at this stage, but they have potential. Flipboard only started with a handful of media partners, and today has hundreds; given Flipboard's large userbase, coupled with the rise shopping on smartphones and especially tablets, we imagine retailers will be anxious to jump on board. What is critical, I think, is the need for an integrated shopping cart that allows users to shop from multiple retailers and check out from all of them in a few clicks in the app -- something Lyst and The Fancy have already built on their own sites.
It could be a big business for Flipboard, which thus far relies solely on advertising -- sold both in-house and through media partners like Condé Nast and Fast Company -- for revenue. The company will earn affiliate revenue on every product it sells through its app. It could make additional money by selling ads to retailers who want to promote their catalogs, as well.