Readability’s Problem

Lots of ridiculous stuff over the weekend about Readability that I had already known about for quite some time. Go ahead and checkout Twitter and search for Readability if you really want to get down a rat hole.

Regardless, I think there are some major things that haven’t been brought up with the recent outrage over how links were handled within Readability.

Almost every single defense of Readability comes back to the fact that they are offering to pay publishers. However, they just removed any sort of restriction on their service that would have required people to pay to use their service. So … what about those people who are not paying a thing for Readability? Are they going to pay publishers for the people who are not paying anything to use their service?

Match that with the fact that it sounds like Readability will just keep any unclaimed money after a year and you DO have problems and no matter how “good” those guys are, there are issues here.

I think there would be fewer issues if these two things happened:

  • Readability required every user of their service to pay.
  • They kept the money for publishers indefinitely or had a better system for getting the money to the publishers.

There is still the issue of collecting money on behalf of publishers who might not want to have a relationship with a third part like Readability, but who cares as long as you are making money … right?

Readability has obviously prostrated themselves to the almighty “get all of the eyeballs and make money later” business model by copying Instapaper after initially working with Marco in the past (but who really cares) and then dropping their entry price to “free” because they are flush with money, so let’s not pretend that they are some kind of white knight in armor for the publishers of the web.

They’re trying to do one thing: make money.