With the demise of Google Reader the blogosphere, including myself went in rage about Google shutting down the beloved reader, suddenly not becoming popular amongst the tech-geek crowd. Suddenly everybody became aware of the fact that “free” comes at the cost, and that the services we love and use today need monetary backup in order to operate.
But did we go a little bit too far?
A lot of people out there prefer to use Instapaper, because of its so called direct business model, you pay for the service, and you support maintaining it. Instapaper was clear cookie cutter until Marco Arment sold it. Ever since than Instapaper remained pretty much the same. No innovations, no progress, no integration with other services.
On the other hand we had pocket, backed up by the similar venture capitalist money that got involved with Instapaper, and yet somehow good portion of the users decided to “pay their way” for the underperforming Instapaper.
The reason why I don’t care about Read It Later business model
And why it doesn’t matter. Read It Later is not a business, it is a feature, and as such I can’t care less about them. For the time being I am using Pocket, and if for any reason they shut down, there will be no critical loss of data on my end. It is just a temporary inbox, where I decide what goes to garbage, what gets consumed and what gets actioned.
If it wasn’t for Pocket, I’d be using Evernote for reading, which has way better business model, and they already started incorporating the “Read It Later” as a feature set. Not only that they are a cash positive business model, they also have means to develop the tools if any of these two (or three) companies disappear from the scene.
Beside Evernote, Apple introduced read it later as a feature as well, as integrated environment of their browsers across all of their devices. Which effectively means that the regular user will never even use the “Read It Later” software.
The future of the Read It Later business model
The rise of Instapaper happened because there was no such feature in the market. The only competing alternative were RSS readers, and they became quite complimentary to the service, but now, as it became a feature of super products, I don’t see them surviving in the “regular” market, and I am referring to the crowds that aren’t tech-geeks who are very specific at how they are going about their technology.
Ultimately I don’t care about Read It Later services as they don’t provide innovation anymore, thus not creating any value. This might change in the future, but until than, I’ll stick with the free. Ultimately they will innovate and offer more value than the alternatives, or they will die out.