Readability Now (Mostly) Free, with iOS Apps On The Way

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Rich Ziade:

With this release, Readability is available at no cost. Sign-up and you’ll have your own profile and reading list in no time. Both Readability accounts and our companion apps will always be completely free, but we also offer a premium experience for users who want additional features and an easy way to support their favorite writers and publishers.

Translation: the current $5+ per month product is still around — and still aims to pay 70% of revenues to authors whose articles you bookmark — but there is now also a lower, free tier where your reading list is limited to your 30 most recent items. This will probably get a lot of people to sign up who balked at the $5 charge, especially once the native iOS app (which will also be free of charge) is approved by Apple.

All that said, I'm not sure what Readability is trying to be other than an upmarket alternative to Instapaper, and that's a stupid goal. Instapaper is a great product for a particular kind of user who likes to read and craves simplicity. It invented the reading-list genre, and is virtually synonymous with it — Apple even cites it in describing Safari's new, less capable Reading List feature, saying it's "similar to the popular Instapaper app."

How many people are out there who would like something like Instapaper but aren't satisfied with Instapaper itself, who wouldn't prefer something entirely free like Reading List? What is Readability bringing to the table that's new?

More importantly, how much money is Readability spending trying to compete with a one-man company with little overhead and a three-year head start?

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