/// Instapaper Bought By Betaworks — Why the Big Fuss?
Do you use Instapaper? No, me neither. But the $3.99 app, which lets you save stuff to read later when outside a wifi or 3G zone, has a small and highly devoted following. Which is why a small segment of Twitter went nuts at the news Thursday that Instapaper was being bought by Betaworks, the burgeoning media tech company that bought the assets of Digg last year.
Instapaper “has simply grown far beyond what one person can do,” its creator Marco Arment wrote in a blog post explaining the sale (actually, Betaworks will only take a majority stake, not buy the thing outright).
“To really shine, it needs a full-time staff of at least a few people,” Arment added. “But I wouldn’t be very good at hiring and leading a staff, and after more than five years, I’d like an opportunity to try other apps and creative projects.”
Arment assured his followers that he would continue indefinitely as an advisor, and that “I didn’t want to give it to a big company that would probably just shut it down in six months.”
Arment has been spending an increasing amount of time on another project. He’s founder and editorial director of an online paid magazine devoted to mid-length features, brashly titled The Magazine. His enthusiasm for Instapaper appears to have been waning for some time. Reviews of the lastest version in the iTunes store suggest it got buggy and crashed a lot.
“I never thought I would have to change my 5 star review of Instapaper to 1 star,” wrote one user, in a typical complaint.
Two years ago, Apple stepped onto Instapaper’s turf in a major way by adding a “reading list” feature to its Safari app on iPhone and iPad. The reading list allowed users to save pages to read them later, rendering the paid iPhone app Instapaper largely irrelevant.
When reading lists were announced at WWDC in 2011 as part of iOS6 (in what turned out to be Steve Jobs’ last keynote), Arment tweeted an infamous one-word response: “shit.”
But Betaworks is building a reputation for turning around aggregation products thought to be lost causes, judging by the reception for the new Digg.
Can they make more of us want to purchase a $4 iPhone app (an Android version was added last year, costing $3) that performs a service we can get for free elsewhere? (Aside from Safari, there’s the completely free Pocket, formerly known as Read It Later, which is also available as a browser extension.)
What should Betaworks do with Instapaper? Give us your reaction to the sale in the comments below.
Mashable – Chris Taylor