Monthly Archives: October 2012

The Magazine issue 2

The second issue of Marco Arment’s The Magazine is now available, featuring essays by John Siracusa, Gina Trapani, Lex Friedman, Daniel Rutter, and Alex Knight. In the new issue, Marco writes about the risk and success of the app:

“It was a risk to release an app that can only exist in Newsstand, full of paid writing, to an audience that’s predominantly people who have a surplus of free reading material and bury their empty Newsstand folders on their last screen of apps.”

I’ve been happy with how well The Magazine fits into my mobile reading workflow. I read a lot in Instapaper and Reeder, most of it technology-related articles. The Magazine occupies a more leisurely, thoughtful space for reading, away from the frenzied pace of everyday tech news. And because it’s a handful of essays just every other week, I don’t expect to ever be overwhelmed with it in the same way that it’s easy to fall behind in never-ending RSS and Twitter feeds.

High quality, highly recommended. Congrats to Marco on the successful launch.

Watermark shared filters

I rolled out a small but powerful feature last night for Watermark. For a while you’ve been able to create saved filters, which are just shortcuts to quickly run a search across the Watermark database for your account. Saved filters are also cool because they automatically sync as CSV files to Dropbox. Now you can allow any of these saved filters to be shared with others.

Click “Allow saved filters” and you’ll get a link option next to each filter. That will produce URLs that can be posted to Twitter or or wherever, and anyone can see the results of the search even if they don’t have a Watermark account.

It’s a way to expose a slice of your timeline and archive to other people. Here are a few that I’ve set up:

  • cingleton — Every tweet or post mentioning the Çingleton conference.

  • pdx food — Neven Mrgan’s short reviews of Portland restaurants.

  • ipad mini — Obvious query given today’s Apple event.

All of these search live across my 6-month archive of about 275,000 tweets. Remember that Twitter’s own search only goes back about a week. There’s really no other way to get this kind of data.

What the Tweet Marker award means

It’s been over a year since I launched Tweet Marker, and I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what its second year will look like. Hosting costs have gone up significantly over the last year, though I’ve offset that by combining the hosting for Watermark and Tweet Marker together so that they share the same core servers. I’ve considered other options, too: run a Kickstarter-like fundraiser, charge developers, or ask for donations again.

Now that I’ve stopped posting to Twitter from my personal account, people also ask whether I’ll just shut Tweet Marker down. The answer is no. I’ll keep it running, even if it means funneling some revenue from Tweet Library and Watermark to pay for it. Even if it means having to put out fires and deal with other web hosting distractions.

Hosted web services have a different level of commitment than traditional apps. When I stopped selling Wii Transfer, existing customers could continue to use it for as long as they wanted. Not so with something like Tweet Marker, which becomes useless the minute I shutter the web server.

The Macworld Eddy statue sits on my desk as a constant reminder that real people like this thing and find it useful. There is a lot of uncertainty with Twitter,,, and the future of microblogging, but no matter what takes off and what sync looks like, I think Tweet Marker played an important role in the evolution of Twitter clients. I’ll always be proud of that. It would be a disservice to my customers and the Macworld award to ever consider turning off the API while people value it.

Watermark for iOS

I have a new iPhone app in the store: Watermark Mobile, a lightweight companion app to Watermark, my search and archiving tool for Twitter and ADN. It’s free for existing customers, or $4.99 using in-app purchase to subscribe as a new Watermark customer.

With this app I wanted to solve two problems:

  • Clean, simple search interface on the iPhone.

  • Allow paying for Watermark inside the app with your iTunes account.

While I’d eventually love to have a more full-featured client like Tweet Library available for Watermark, after a quick weekend of hacking I decided that Watermark Mobile was already useful enough that I should release it. So I did.

Tweet Library price cut

At Çingleton last week, Michael Jurewitz talked about app pricing and the arguments for raising your price. He made a convincing case, and it echoed some of the themes that I wrote about before I released Tweet Library 1.0 back in 2010.

In the two years since, I never once changed the price. No intro discount, no gimmicks, never on sale; $10 was essentially set stone. Even as it moved to the iPhone as a universal app, I stuck to my original philosophy about pricing, perhaps stubbornly. There’s value in consistent pricing, so that the user knows what to expect from one month to the next, and to indicate that the developer attaches a specific value to the app.

Last week, before Çingleton and right as version 2.1 of Tweet Library was about to be released, I decided to try an experiment: I cut the price in half to $4.99. Even though it’s a niche app that only doubles as a full Twitter client, this puts it more in line with other Twitter apps on iOS. (And even cheaper than buying both the iPhone and iPad versions of some apps, like Netbot for ADN.)

Meanwhile, Tweetbot for Mac is now out at $20. Daniel Jalkut covers this on his new blog, Bitsplitting:

“Is $20 a reasonable amount to pay for Tweetbot? I think so. But if Tapbots would have preferred to charge even less, has it been fairly priced? Many folks are seizing on the coincidence of Tapbots needing to charge more as an opportunity to exalt ‘fair pricing,’ when this was a result of coercion in two directions.”

Pricing is something I am still very fascinated by, especially this constant pull between how we value our own software and how pragmatic we want to be as a business. I’m going to let Tweet Library sit at $4.99 for a month, and if revenue is not obviously greater than what it would have been, I’ll bump it back to $10 or a middle-ground $7.99.