Top 1% Percent Reader Episode III - Revenge of Pocket

February 07 2016

In what has become a yearly tradition, I am once again one of Pocket’s top 1 percent readers. I enjoy this email every year, and this year they waited unti February to send it out, meaning they are actually factoring the entire year now (it was previously sent out in mid-December).

In 2015, I read 3,737,494 words, compared to 3,705,020 words in 2014, an increase of just 0.88%. Actually, considering the email last year came on 12/16, let’s assume the number from last year was not actually the whole year. In that case, I actually decreased in the number of words read, by 3.3%. Anyway, what this is telling me is that I’m still spending approximately the same amount of time on leisure reading, despite having started a more intense job and having an entire year with a baby. That’s probably a good sign.

Pocket has my most frequently saved topics as sports, basketball, baseball, technology, and football. Last year I also had current events as a popular topic. It’s surprising I don’t have that this year, considering I’ve been saving and reading a lot more on the presidential race. The other topics are, of course, right on.

Anyway, I’ve written enough about Pocket. I always worry about their ability to stay afloat, but it seems they’re generally doing pretty well. They raised a B round last February from NEA, and they are monetizing a lot more now from ads. They are also starting to build some network effects into their product by connecting with Facebook and Twitter, and allowing you to connect with your friends on Pocket.

All these are the right moves. Last year, they went toward a subscription-based premium model. That was never going to work - this is a simple product with a simple value prop. Introducing features on top of it significantly narrows the market size to go after and fails to capture the true value of the product (which is that so many people use it and signal their interests, a little like Pinterest). Adding network effects and monetizing through ads is the right strategy.

Here’s to hopefully writing an update to this post one year from now!

Topics: TechnologyTechnology:AppsStrategy

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