Ronny Lam


Instapaper: The First Read-later Service

This post by Marco Arment intrigued me…

Steve Streza was this week’s guest on CMD+SPACE. Steve’s the lead developer at Instapaper’s biggest competitor, Pocket, founded by Nate Weiner and formerly named Read It Later. Weiner has commented numerous times in the press that Read It Later was the first read-later service, and that it predated Instapaper by being started in 2007.

Multiple things can be said about this post, the first thing that comes to my mind is that Marco does care that people know or don’t know that he was the first read-later service. Although he claims he doesn’t. I would care, especially when a competitor repeatedly claims the opposite.

The second thing is that even I didn’t realize how far back Instapaper goes, and apparently, me too. I started using the service at the end of 2008 and loved it for its simplicity. Before that I was an Isilo user on the Palm, which was an application to transform websites in a text portable format to take with me on the Palm. Instapaper gave me just the same feeling, but I stead of an application it was a website with a full service. I could still do the same as with Isilo and take my longreads with me on the iPod touch.

Instapaper moved with me to every device and I still use it a lot. I have tried several others, but they all felt like an Instapaper rip-off and/or didn’t fit in my workflow. The weekly Kindle digest for example is awesome.

There is one thing though that irritates me a lot. I am also a big fan of the rss-reader Reeder, and I use the in-app readability button a lot. It fetches the linked website and shows it as text in Reeder. Of course I want that button to be Instapaper Mobilizer.

My message to Marco is: let it go. The people that need to know the full story know it. And the people that purposely tell the opposite story will find themselves, sometime.