A candid look at Unread’s first year

Jared Sinclair opens the books on his RSS reading app, Unread. These are some sobering numbers, to be sure. I use Unread and really like the app.

  • I’ve read Jared’s account and several of the ancillary articles spawned off from this. I agree that Unread is a great RSS reading app, which I’ve bought and use on a daily basis. The problem that Jared doesn’t get into is that Unread is hardly the first, fifth or 10th RSS reader on the iOS store.

    At the end of the day, all Jared did was build a better widget and in the App world, being better won’t necessarily prompt people to pay to change apps from ones they already have (either paid for or free) that are good enough.

    Want to improve your odds of releasing a more successful app, don’t build a better widget, build a new widget. Seriously, have weather apps become the new Hello, World; program for new developers?

    While everyone agrees that there are ways that the App store can be improved to better facilitate sales (trials, upgrades, c2d communication) none of those aren’t things that can’t be built in by the developer.

    The App store is a supermarket. You can get your new diet Soda on the shelf, but it’s not the fault of the supermarket that it didn’t sell. You still need to do your own promotional activities, etc. Unfortunately, you have to spend money to make money in most things.

    It is interesting that given the amount of coverage that this app got (which is how I found out about it, certainly), it still failed to be a blow out success. This raises the question of how influential is the elite tech press these days against all of the other noise out there.

  • Terry Maraccini

    RSS feeds have been dead for the end user for many years. As RSS has become a method for syndicated feeds to websites and apps, the need for stand alone reading has diminished to the point of being a nonexistent market.

    Don’t harangue me for this. The vast majority of end users don’t want to be bothered with yet another way to see their content. Sorry power users. You are an infinitesimally small market.

    I abandoned RSS readers years ago. Yet, our team develops more RSS feeds every day. You as a user just don’t see them.

  • RSS feeds are far from dead. Statistics for readers on top blogs and websites are enormous just as Mr. Sinclair points out. What he fails to realize is that RSS is and always has been a niche computer nerd medium. Pick any year in the past decade even through the so-called heyday of RSS and try to explain using it to a casual computer user and they’d look at you like a confused dog. The application must cater to what these geeks want.

    Google Reader destroyed the RSS market years ago by making a free service that was essentially accessible from any device you own because it was a web app. It hit its stride just as we were beginning to branch out from just having a PC as our sole computing platform. Google Reader is gone today, but what’s left in its wake are expectations from any new RSS reader. Today to have an RSS reader that’s worth anything is to have it sync and be accessible on multiple devices. I only see iPhone and iPad versions of his application. Where’s the Mac app? I’m not arrogant enough to assume my personal computing device use is the norm; but I don’t own an iPad anymore after giving my old one to my sister, and my primary computing platform is my Mac, not my iPhone. I wouldn’t even consider downloading Unread because to use it I must add feeds to my Mac client and again to Unread. That is additional work that makes using RSS tedious, not fun.

    Another problem I see with his app (and MANY others) is that his website doesn’t accurately explain what Unread is all about. You’re presented with a small page with an iPhone that has text in it. It looks nice, but the text could just as easily be outside the phone among the rest of the content. People need to see how the application is used, otherwise they move on. In the modern days of “apps, apps, apps” the Web is often seen as an afterthought and even derided by some, but it’s the primary source of information gathering by the public at large. It’s especially important when the App Store itself isn’t a viable means of showcasing your app and even less of a means of allowing people to discover your app. Most of your users will discover your iOS application from websites, so the least a developer can do is make the information on their website useful.

    When looking at Unread’s information on the App Store it doesn’t accurately showcase using the application either.