Instapaper sales show slow Verizon iPhone adoption from new customers

Verizon iPhone launch

There was such a clamor leading up to the Verizon iPhone launch that you’d think it would be the only thing the world is talking about. Instead, it’s been pretty quiet since the launch, which has everyone wondering, how good was the launch?

If you see things how Marco Arment, founder of the popular Instapaper app for multiple mobile platforms, the Verizon iPhone is selling mostly to existing iPhone customers. Arment used the sales of his own application, which are historically fairly steady, to analyze the current level of Verizon iPhone sales.

Here are the basics from his blog:

Since my ranks rarely change significantly, the resulting sales volumes seem to track the entire App Store’s volume. In other words, since my rank is held mostly constant, but my sales vary, it’s reasonable to extrapolate that trends in my sales indicate approximate trends in the entire App Store market.

The results are fairly obvious: I see huge spikes whenever there’s a new iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad released, whenever they become available in a major new country, or whenever there’s a major reason for people to buy a lot of them (like the holidays).

Arment hasn’t seen any spikes surrounding the Verizon iPhone release, though. In fact, things have been surprisingly moderate. Arment’s own theory about slow adaptation among Verizon customers seems spot on to me. He thinks most of early adapters are the hardcore smartphone nerds. These are the people that wait in lines and stay up until 3AM to pre-order. These are people who put up with AT&T just so they could have the iPhone.

The next wave of iPhone owners are the casuals – people who have seen the phone and liked it but aren’t in any real hurry to buy one. Casual users always take longer to adapt new tech and the Verizon iPhone won’t likely be an exception.


Instapaper is officially a startup


Marco Arment, the CTO at Tumblr, has been working a personal project for a while that you might know about. I’ve been using Instapaper on and off for a couple months, but I never seem to remember why I go on streaks of abstinence. The service is the best method I’ve found for storing links and reading them across multiple devices.

Arment is officially taking Instapaper from a personal hobby to a startup. Arment has 800,000 users registered to his service, with 200,000 regular users. Arment is self-financing the startup by himself.

“It’s all self-funded so far and has been for the first six months of the service. My only costs are my time, server fees and paying the contractor for some Web work.”

As for the future of the product, Arment is looking at developing an HTML5 version that could be supported across all mobile platforms into the future.