I knew nothing about the sale of Instapaper until well after the news was posted online. After reading the news I wasn’t sure what to make of the entire situation. My knee jerk reaction was to cancel my account and just use Pinboard.in instead. However I stopped to consider what, why, and who was taking over: Betaworks.
I knew that I knew the name Betaworks, but I couldn’t place it. A quick check of their site reminded me: Digg.
Digg is really relevant to talk about in order to understand my thoughts on the Instapaper sale. When Digg first came out, I fell in love with it. For me Digg was the way to see the greatest anything on the web, it’s where I found out about a lot of the sites that I read and love today. I was a huge fan of the corresponding podcast and just enjoyed the service in general.
Then Digg went sideways and there was a lot easier and better ways to stay on top of the web. Digg died for me.
When Digg was relaunched I gave it a try via the iPhone app. The Digg iPhone app is still an app that I use and check multiple times a day, I really like it.
The design, the content, everything in Digg right now is really great. Betaworks, in this bloggers opinion, has done a fantastic job taking Digg back to its roots.
Which brings me to Instapaper.
I really love Instapaper, and I admire the hell out of the work Marco Arment has done to build and maintain the integrity of the service. But I worry about its future under Betaworks.
I have no doubt that Betaworks can keep the usability of Instapaper in place, that the speed and reliability of service will only improve, but I worry about the soul of Instapaper. Specifically, that it is a service worth paying for in a segment that has immense competition from free providers, and that Betaworks will keep it a privacy conscious, paid service (well mostly paid).
I know that Betaworks has to make the purchase pencil on the ledger, whether they paid $1, or the “reported” $100 Billion dollars. ((I know of no such reports, but if CNN can make shit up, so can I.)) I worry that the service will eventually have to change, but for now I think it is a win for the current Instapaper users — with a healthy caveat of keeping a close eye on any ToS changes that may or may not come.
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