So I bought my first iPhone app today. I’ve never found that any of the paid apps were worth, well, money. With Instapaper Pro, that is no longer true.
There are two reasons I mention this.
1. If you own an iPhone, you should download Instapaper Free. In a nutshell, if you find an interesting, long article online – say, an 8,000 word piece on the meaning of music – you probably don’t want to stare at your garishly bright computer to read it. If you are at all eco-conscious, you won’t print it out. With Instapaper, and the click of a button, that article and any others you want will be saved for offline reading on your iPhone, anytime, anywhere. On the subway. Waiting at the dentist. Sitting on the toilet (not recommended, for various sanitary reasons). It is simply indispensible. But…
2. …it’s not perfect. For that, you’ll have to buy Instapaper Pro. The free version won’t save your place when your subway stop comes and you’re only on word number 3,544 of the said 8,000 word piece. So you’ll have to find the last word you read the next time you’re on the subway. A minor concern? Certainly. But it was enough of a concern for me to say “I like what I can get with this free product, but I want this other product enough that I’m willing to pay for it. ”
The lesson for Web media here (I should note that Instapaper theoretically hurts Web sites because I don’t have to look at their ads while reading) is that give them something that is essential (Instapaper Free used to save your spot), then take it away once they’re hooked, and charge them for that indispensability. Don’t charge me to find out what happened in the Giants game. But please do charge me for doing what you do best. Like, explaining the meaning of music in a well-constructed narrative.