Mario Sundar

LinkedIn's 2nd PR hire. These are my thoughts on products, public relations, and startups.

Why Instapaper should be afraid of Pocket

I’ve been using Instapaper for a while now, except for one short-lived attempt at trying out the gorgeous Readability app. I’d since then returned to Instapaper whose genius is just being there for you – wherever and however you access the web – making it the easiest way to save news and text content for reading later.

Enter Pocket.

Pocket is to Instapaper what the iPad is to the Kindle. Both of them have their own virtues. Both of them do what they’re good at very well, but unlike the Kindle whose biggest strength in my opinion is the ability to read any book glare-free on a digital surface that’s closest to paper, Instapaper plays in a mostly iPad world.

So, why should Instapaper care about Pocket

  • The barrier to switching apps is minimal

As I’d mentioned earlier, this was my 2nd attempt at switching from Instapaper to another site, despite both loving the utility of the product and saving thousands of articles on the app (more on that in just a second).

But, it was trivial for me to pick just the 10 most interesting articles to transfer over to Pocket. For the most part their save-to-read-later actions are similar, Instapaper wins in Safari while Pocket requires you to email the article to save for later. But, I digress… Switching over was not a problem at all and one of the main reasons I didn’t feel the pain of switching was that most of the articles I save for later are ephemeral in nature and don’t matter much anymore. The ones that really mattered were @longreads from various magazine articles that I hadn’t read because there wasn’t an easy way to pick the most interesting ones among hundreds (I save hundreds) on Instapaper.

  • Pictures helps you prioritize reading or viewing

Speaking of prioritizing which articles to read; when you’ve saved tons of articles to read later, and believe me you will when you are accustomed to clicking read-later links whenever you stumble upon something, chances are you’ve got so many posts that at times you just give up on reading them.

The Instapaper look

On using Pocket I realize a great way to pick articles to read is to sift through this content visually, which makes it easier to pick the article du jour that you feel like reading at that moment. Oddly enough I find myself reading more content on Pocket because of this one reason.

All articles; articles, pics and videos are displayed here.

Plus, since there’s an easy way to sort through videos Pocket makes it a one-stop shop for most multimedia content as well.

  • iOS world of Multimedia

You may think it’s not a big deal right now but in a world that’s increasingly gravitating towards videos consumed through your iPad on your couch at home, Pocket’s filling an important need. The reason this assumed even more significance for me is that I also do have Apple TV and so throwing content I find on my iPad over to the television screen is now such a favorite habit of mine, that I find Pocket’s ability to gather all those interviews I’ve been intending to watch on the web throughout the day truly changes the way you consume content on your Apple TV.

The videos only tab in Pocket

Granted, it’s gonna take a deep-rooted change in people’s habit to start using these read later apps, but I think the impending Apple TV revolution (I’m talking about the real TV Apple’s working on) affords Pocket the chance to really go mainstream while Instapaper will remain the amazing utility that it currently is to readers everywhere.

What problem does Pocket solve?

Pocket’s competitive advantage comes from an increasingly iPad fueled world of multimedia content. While Instapaper essentially became my TiVo of news, Pocket has now become my online TiVo, whether it’s News, online video content whether it’s YouTube or Vimeo or even twitpics for that matter (though I rarely use it to view pics later).

Individual Video page

By becoming the one-stop shop for all content, Pocket gives you fewer reasons to try out or stick with Instapaper, as awesome as it is, which is why I think Marco should be concerned right now. Who knows? At some point he may release the “Kindle Fire” version of Instapaper.

Do you use Read Later apps on either your browser or phone? I’m curious to hear what your thoughts are on Pocket? Leave a comment or tweet me @mariosundar.

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