Instapaper lives on
June 11, 2012
I read a couple tech blogs today talk about the new feature of mobile Safari that allows for off-line reading and how it’s an Instapaper killer. The comments are usually funny and range from “iOS sucks”, to “you should never develop a popular app because Apple will steal your idea”, to “that’s why I’m on Android”.
Here’s the deal. You can’t kill Instapaper just by adding off-line reading support. How nieve.
Years of features are not replaced by one
Instapaper has been around for a while. Constantly iterating, constantly adding new features that users want. Think about that for a minute… The Instapaper user community has a voice and Instapaper seems to implement the most popular user requested features. Ever tweeted to Apple about something that bugs you, or a feature that you’d like to see in the next version, and had them respond? I’m not talking antenagate-level changes, but rather “hey, it would be cool if the app did this” kind of feature request. For example, it took 6 iterations for Apple to add pull-to-refresh to email because, well, who knows, but we all know it’s been an obvious missing feature for a while. It’s the so called white glove treatment that you get from developers of apps like Instapaper that is difficult to replace. Small, not a lot of resources, but loves the user and fan base. These developers stay lean because they have to. They add the features that count and are good about avoiding feature bloat. I love indy developers like this.
There are so many good features baked into Instapaper, including my new favorite Background Update Locations that adding a simple off-line reading feature to Mobile Safari is not the killer feature that crushes Instapaper.
Instapaper has a decent fan base too. Have you ever built software that millions of people use? In my short programming career, I’ve mostly built enterprise software with hundreds, maybe a couple of thousand of users, that have touched features that I poured my heart into. I can’t begine to imagine what it’s like to have millions of people touch something I built from scratch. With those kinds of numbers you build relationships. You build fans. You build trust. It’s hard to replace all of that that with small features.
So what would it take?
Well, I’ve thought about the
killer features that would make me want to ditch Instapaper. Here they are:
- Background Update Locations
- Position syncing between devices
- Ability to email-in links and long text
- Ability to save pages to Instapaper from ANY browser
- Twitter’s iOS Read Later integration
- A Facebook-to-Safari Offline Reading integration
- Developers that were visible, talked on Twitter, had a voice. You know, someone that was
Or, Apple just needs to simply copy Instapaper, add everything I love about it, sync it up with iCloud, figure out a way for me to view everything from my Windows box too, and we’re good.
Yeah, Instapaper lives on…