The first “Read Later” service

I don’t care anymore whether people know that Instapaper defined the read-later service and was first to most of its core features. I don’t care anymore whether people know how much Read It Later copied from Instapaper in our early years. You can’t force people to know backstories.

But for Pocket to repeatedly state the opposite — that they were the first service like this, and that Instapaper followed their lead — is over the line, and I won’t sit here quietly and let that go unchallenged.

  • Oh goodie…another Marco Arment pissing contest…I’ll get the popcorn….

    • He does seem overly sensitive. Did you see “bynkii Gender Binder? Hardly” blog post. Apparently The Magazine refused to entertain an idea for an article because the writer had previously written mean things about Marco. His publication, his right, his rules, but still a dick move imo.

      • VERY sensitive. He says, “This is ancient history, and while it annoyed me at the time, I don’t really care anymore. Nobody does. For the most part, it doesn’t matter.”

        And yet….he wrote 500+ words about it…

        Worse is his comment of, “Whether this is true depends on how you define that.” Kinda blows his whole argument out of the water.

        • EXACTLY. Apparently it does matter. Otherwise why even write about it?

          He might as well have written “I’m just saying…” at the end (which translates to “This is what I think. Unless you disagree then I don’t really mean it”)

      • Yeah I read that article. His ideas are pretty stupid and ignorant and I’m not sure I would want him in my publication even though he doesn’t know me from Jack.

  • I was listening to that CMD+Space episode yesterday and I figured Marco might comment on the appearance. 🙂 All i really care about is Pocket is now the better service, with better apps and supreme cross-platform support.

    • I can’t disagree. I’ve used both services and have settled on Pocket for the reasons you’ve mentioned.

  • I’ll say what I said on Hack News:

    Bookmarks were the first “read-it-later”service. I think Marco has a good reason to be pissed that someone else keeps staking a claim to the concept of RIL (as it exists today) because they did a bookmark extension a few months before he introduced, what is essentially the MVP something we now call a “read-it-later” service.

    • “I think Marco has a good reason to be pissed…”

      I kinda agree but, if you’re going to be pissed, BE PISSED! Using the weaselly words and terms he uses comes across as awfully passive/aggressive.

      “ancient history…I don’t care…Nobody does…it doesn’t matter.”

      Man up and be pissed. Don’t try and soften it.

      • Actually, he said he doesn’t care about people knowing the details of how ripped off he felt. What he did say was, “But for Pocket to repeatedly state the opposite — that they were the first service like this, and that Instapaper followed their lead — is over the line, and I won’t sit here quietly and let that go unchallenged.”

        So he doesn’t need you to know about the feature stealing or anything else, but he very much cares about them not asserting they were the first or that Instapaper was following in their footsteps. That’s also, btw, not claiming that he was the first (which is why his footnote does not invalidate his point). He’s simply saying RIL/Pocket was not first. Stop saying that. At best it’s unclear if that’s true and at worst it’s an outright revisionist lie.

  • I like Marco, as a dev, but it seems like he’s splitting hairs and his footnotes seem to prove even he wasn’t first so what’s the issue?

    • Absolutely. He says himself, “Whether this is true depends on how you define that.” Sorry Marco – you have zero argument after you wrote that.

      • Yep. Adding a service isn’t what defines a category. I’d even say delicious was the first. It was bookmarks but the idea was to read that page later.

  • Nobody gives a shit who was first. Nobody really cares who claims to have been first, and nobody truly cares that someone else doesn’t care that someone else claims they copied their idea. First means nothing. It’s blog fodder.

    What people do care about is who has the best product. Instapaper hasn’t been the best product in many years.

    Marco is obviously a talented developer, and probably a nice guy. But this is just crappy nitpicking. RIL was in fact released before Instapaper. Its feature set (if you can call it that) was virtually worthless in comparison to what eventually became of this market, but it doesn’t change the fact that the concept was started before Instapaper. Nor does it change the fact that other services have pushed this market forward while Instapaper still looks and works like it did in 2009.

    When you’re kicking the shit out of the competition with a great product, you can afford to toss in an “oh by the way, we were first” comment. But when you’re lagging behind with an inferior product, it just sounds like wining.

  • Number 1 rule of blogging. Don’t be a tool.

  • Well, I had been deciding on whether I need something like this, so I’ve been researching Instapaper, Pocket, and Evernote for quite some time. Drama like this will likely push Instapaper off my short list. Maybe I’ll forget about it when I finally download an app to my iPad.

    • I would disagree with that. Marco may be a whiner but don’t let that dissuade you from testing out Instapaper. It may be exactly what you need. I prefer Pocket but I’ve used and liked Instapaper in the past.

  • Colin Jensen

    Am I the only one who thought Marco was perfectly reasonable about this? Correcting the record just because someone keeps making making a 1st Post claim when they weren’t.