Read it Later founder: Paid apps ‘do not make sense for our business’

Read it Later — an app that enables people to save content from their computer, smart phone or iPad, and makes it available for offline use — is launching a new version this morning with a new business model and name.

Until today, there were two versions of the app — a free version and a Pro version, which cost $2.99. Founder Nate Weiner said the app is the number one paid news app on Android and Amazon. From a business perspective, though, it didn’t make sense to continue having a paid app.

“Just because the company was making money, doesn’t mean that it was making it in a way that best fits our type of product,” Weiner said via email. “Quite simply: paid apps just do not make sense for our business. We’re moving to a different model for revenue, something that has been in the works since last summer and making our official apps free is just the start of that transition.”

Paid apps are difficult for services like Read it Later, Weiner said, for two main reasons.

“One, it is difficult to ask someone to pay upfront before they understand the benefit. Making something like Pocket a part of your day means seeing the benefit yourself. No app store description or screenshot can do that for you,” Weiner said. “Two, we have incredible retention. Once a user starts using us, they use us for years. … Having a user pay $2.99 up-front once and then use the app for four years doesn’t make a lot of sense.”

Pocket, as it’s now called, currently has 4.5 million users — up from 2.5 million last year. The new version of the app has a simpler user interface and new favoriting and tagging features that make it easier to organize content.

Related: Why Read it Later/Pocket went free ( | New Read it Later data show more people are saving ‘longform videos’ | What do we mean by ‘longform journalism’ and how can we get it to go?

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  • Mark Armstrong

    Hi John, Mark from Pocket here. Our founder Nate Weiner speaks a bit more about what’s planned for the business here: 

  • Anonymous

    charge a nickle or a dime or a quarter or a dollar per use. have it charged automatically to a credit card. it would add up fast.

    the federal court system makes all court documents available online, but you have to open a credit card  account to actually look at pages, for which you are charged 15-cents per page, i think it is. users know what the charge is, but they don’t have to say “yes” every time they look at something. the charges are automatically billed monthly on your credit card.

  • John Fleck

    But what’s the business model? That is to say, where’s the revenue come from in the new model?