Iterating on ideas

An interesting day for two interesting products, both of which have moved away from their original models in the search of growth.

Marco Arment talking of his early decisions to limit sharing in The Magazine:

I hastily built a basic site while I was waiting for the app to be approved. I only needed it to do two things: send people to the App Store, and show something at the sharing URLs for each article. Since The Magazine had no ads, and people could only subscribe in the app, I figured there was no reason to show full article text on the site — it could only lose money and dilute the value of subscribing.

That was the biggest mistake I’ve made with The Magazine to date.

Today you can access one article from The Magazine for free each month.  This is a move away from the original model of full articles only being available to subscribers on the iOS app (I’m a subscriber, and find it easily worth the money).  I do think the restrictions are still a little too strict.  I get that they only publish a limited number of articles per month (Marco says 11), but I’d probably tweak it to refresh every two weeks to allow more regular interactions with potential customers.

In an even more drastic change,, the Twitter clone that isn’t really a twitter clone, has announced that it’s moving to a limited freemium model.  Dalton Caldwell:

To get access to the free tier, you must have an invite. These invites are being distributed to current members on paid plans.

If you know an existing paid member, who pays yearly, they can invite you to join on the free plan.  The free plan has a number of restriction, such as a limit on the number of people you can follow, less file storage and a maximum upload size of 10MB.  I’m surprised they’re giving that much free storage to free users.

It’s also interesting that you have to be invited to join.  This results in throttling the number of signups, making the growth curve more predictable, and I’m sure they hope, keeping the quality of participants high.

What’s more interesting is seeing these two net darlings adapt and iterate on their original approaches (worth noting that Dalton Caldwell says was always conceived as a freemium service).