Pocket - Michael's Individual Project

History

Pocket began as an extension on Firefox called "Read it Later" that simply allowed you to save text for later viewing. It stripped the text of the usual web clutter of navigation buttons, advertisements, and other "junk" to be viewed at a later point. Other applications such as Instapaper and Readability proliferated around the same time. Read it Later exerted influence on the iPad app Longform and certain aspects of the Safari browser. After a significant re-branding, Read it Later transformed into Pocket and now supports images and videos as well as simple text.


How does Pocket work?

Pocket is a "save for later" and "view when ready" application that allows you to take content you find anywhere on the web and save it to a sort of "web content DVR" that you can view from any device.


What are Pocket's strengths & weaknesses?

Strengths

  • Pocket has cross-device functionality (you can save it on your phone and then view it on your laptop)
  • Pocket takes what is a clunky process (looking through your browser history) and streamlines it into a simple application
  • Pocket has been integrated into many apps (e.g. Twitter, Pulse, Reeder) for easy functionality
  • You can tag your content and then sort later by tags
  • Pocket works without an internet connection
  • Pocket is free to use

Weaknesses

  • Pocket's main function can be done in other ways (e.g. looking through your browser history)
  • Google Chrome and Safari both already have cross-device functionality
  • You have to know you will want to see it later in order to access it later
  • There are many similar applications out there

The Future of Pocket

In order to have a future, Pocket needs to reach a larger audience first. At the moment, not many people are using Pocket (or any of the other similar applications). The basic problem facing Pocket is the lack of demand for its main function. The fact is, people can find whatever they want using a search engine. Pocket needs to provide a service that people can't already do for themselves with just as much ease.

Another problem facing Pocket's future prospects is its profitability. The app itself is now free, so revenue has to be generated elsewhere. The primary source Pocket attempts to garner revenue from is charging publishers to add an "Add to Pocket" button to their user interface. Basically, Pocket is charging other people for a function that would make the app easier to use. This is not the only problem. Publishers are unconvinced that an "Add to Pocket" function is worth their dime. Pocket needs to prove to the publishers that, of the 2 million items saved to pocket in 2012, a substantial portion of them were actually read.