All Posts Tagged ‘marco arment


Being too popular for a day

Two weeks back, Marco Arment (creator of Instapaper, development brains behind Tumblr, creator of Overcast, founder of The Magazine..) published a typical Marco-style post criticising Apple’s recent software quality;

I suspect the rapid decline of Apple’s software is a sign that marketing is too high a priority at Apple today: having major new releases every year is clearly impossible for the engineering teams to keep up with while maintaining quality. Maybe it’s an engineering problem, but I suspect not — I doubt that any cohesive engineering team could keep up with these demands and maintain significantly higher quality.

Apple has lost the functional high ground on

Which then spread like wildfire;

This morning, my words were everywhere, chopped up and twisted by sensational opportunists to fuel the tired “Apple is doomed!” narrative with my name on them. (Or Tumblr’s name, which was even worse.) Business Insider started the party, as usual, but it spread like wildfire from there. Huffington Post. Wall Street Journal. CNN. Heise. Even a televised CNBC discussion segment.

What it’s like to be way too popular for a day on

Which might seem like a blogging dream-come-true, but you’d be wrong. Fascinating. See also: Marco went into more detail on both ATP and The Talk Show, both of which are equally long and worth the listen.

Image Credit:


★ When are you going to make this a business?

Instapaper) lends his perspective on the app economy, over on the planet money podcast, hosted by Alex Bloomberg;

I wanted to try the simple way, of charge money for a product, and spend less than you make and see what you can do with that.  People always ask what my business model is, and it’s really, It’s very disappointingly simple for them.  It’s, I sell something to people for money.  The tech press looks at that as some kind of oddity, like, when are you going to make it a business and get VC funding.

Strange how the tech press seems to get so wound up over specs, stats, funding rounds.  It’s almost like they’re so incredibly removed from the rest of the world, it’s a struggle to conceive of what people need, want or love.  Why does an idea like Instapaper need VC funding to be validated in their eyes? I’d say Marco’s spot on when it comes to knowing your goal, the focus of your organisation.

Here’s how I think about it.  If you want to be the biggest player and dominate a whole industry, then maybe you have to do the VC route and get big quickly, before someone else does.  All of my competitors, that I know of, are VC funded – or are Apple.  So that’s one way to do it, if your goal is to dominate the market.  My goal has never been to dominate the market, my goal has always been to just make a living for myself and I don’t really care if someone else is bigger than me.

He’s a one man band.  It strikes me as a really mature, articulate position to take on this subject.  It takes time to grow a steady user base, who use and love your product.  It takes time and focus, it takes the ability to know what is not worth your time and effort.  Why should Instapaper scale in the same fashion as, say, Facebook or google? Yet, there is one thing that really allows this kind of entrepreneurial activity to thrive today;

This is a really really big pool of people we’re talking about, in the customer base, people who have iPads and iPhones and who want to read.  When the market is that big, of everybody who uses the internet, any little differentiator can get you enough of a customer base to support you and a few other people. you never want to hear, from a service that you’re using, is that they’re exploring business models. That’s never a good thing for you as the user.

Give people a way to pay for things easily. It’s that simple. For me, Marco is one of the most trustworthy voices on the app economy today.


★ Starting today

Marco makes his point about SOPA crystal clear:

It’s also worth reconsidering our support of the MPAA. The MPAA is a hate-sink, a front to protect its members from negative PR. But unlike the similarly purposed Lodsys (and many others), it’s easy to see who the MPAA represents: Disney, Sony Pictures, Paramount, 20th Century Fox, Universal, and Warner Brothers. (Essentially, all of the major movie studios.)

The MPAA studios hate us. They hate us with region locks and unskippable screens and encryption and criminalization of fair use. They see us as stupid eyeballs with wallets, and they are entitled to a constant stream of our money. They despise us, and they certainly don’t respect us.

Yet when we watch their movies, we support them.

Even if we don’t watch their movies in a theater or buy their plastic discs of hostility, we’re still supporting them. If we watch their movies on Netflix or other flat-rate streaming or rental services, the service effectively pays them on our behalf next time they negotiate the rights or buy another disc. And if we pirate their movies, we’re contributing to the statistics that help them convince Congress that these destructive laws are necessary.

They use our support to buy these laws.

So maybe, instead of waiting for the MPAA’s next law and changing our Twitter avatars for a few days in protest, it would be more productive to significantly reduce or eliminate our support of the MPAA member companies starting today, and start supporting campaign finance reform.

I’m way ahead of you (although perhaps not in the way you meant).

I’m reminded once again, of Horace’s break down of the studio system revenue streamand the way it distributes wealth in staggeringly unfair ways. The system is broken, and I do agree we need to reconsider our actions and how we support these businesses – as ultimately most of what we consume is produced by this small cadre of hugely successful businesses, and they’re not concerned about much other than their bottom line.

Recently there’s been quite a vocal subset of the internet community (led by those who are most active in creating the platformssoap boxesor information catalogueswe all use daily), about the nature of the proposed SOPA/PIPA legislation.  Interestingly, it seems that the fallout is just as interesting as the battle and protest.  More and more it’s becoming apparent that the Motion Picture Association of America, and the studio’s in Hollywood, are dead-set on halting progress and innovation in the internet.  They’ve even lost sight of the enormous potential for their business to grow and shift according to the technological innovations now available to so many.  Instead, they’re attempting to blockade the internet with a garage of clichés like americanforeigncriminalor jobs.  It’s lame and it’s absurd.

The old business models are being disrupted daily, that much is clear.  So where do we now stand on this?  Do we continue to support the old, the flailing, the stagnant and slow-moving businesses, those who do all they can to obfuscate and obscure clarity – those who seem to hold me at arms length, and do all they can to hinder my ability?  At the expense of the new, do I stand behind this old and outdated system?

I do not.


★ Tweaking that comparison chart

chart Amazon put up to promote the fire.

Kindle Fire iPad
$300 less than iPad 2
Volume Buttons
Needs Improvement
Very Stable
Home Screen
That was a small swipe. Did you mean to tap? Try again
Tap an app to open it
Magazine Reading
Infuriatingly Awful
Pretty Good

My copy+paste doesn’t do it justice.  I won’t spoil the punchline either, go check it out for yourself.