Marco Arment first gained fame from Instapaper, a web service and iOS app that lets you save web articles to read later, at your leisure, or simply archive for potential future reference. Both before Instapaper, as the back-end architect behind the social blogging platform Tumblr, and after, as the founder of The Magazine, Arment's skills as a developer, and his thoughtfulness when it comes to user experience, helped shape the modern form of text-based content on mobile.
Back during the early days of Tumblr, Arment wasn't anywhere nearly as well known as he is today, yet millions of people depended on the servers and systems he set up and maintained. Following Tumblr's recent sale to Yahoo!, Arment wrote briefly about his time there on his blog, Marco.org:
Arment also appeared on several podcasts, including his own, and discussed his background and role at Tumblr as part of the greater conversation around its sale:
- Accidental Tech Podcast 14: Pouring Champagne Onto Rap Stars
- CMD+Space 48: A Fresh Start, with Marco Arment
- Bitsplitting With Marco Arment
While still at Tumblr, Arment began work on Instapaper. His purpose seemed simple: to remove any and all cruft from web-based articles and store them in a way that was both optimized for reading and easily accessible from web and mobile. Thousands upon thousands of decisions, however, came between simple in concept and elegant in execution.
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Time named Instapaper one of the 10 best iPhone apps of 2008, saying:
Since Instapaper debuted with the App Store, Arment was able to observe and participate in many of the early and ongoing trends in the industry, including downward price pressures, and the challenges of maintaining a free version of a paid app in lieu of a demo. From Marco.org:
Arment poured an incredible amount of time and effort into the usability of Instapaper, including reproducing Apple's iBooks-style page turn animation, implementing a geo-fenced based workaround for background content refresh, and dozens of other, smaller things like the ability to undo scroll-to-top. Arment also frequently discussed his preferences and priorities of Instapaper, its features, and interface on his first podcast, Build and Analyze, as well as on other shows.
- Build and Analyze archive
- Iterate 28: Marco Arment and Instapaper
Arment also discussed the sale on the Quit podcast, and on his own show, ATP.
On October 11, 2012, months before he sold Instapaper, Arment launched his second major app, The Magazine. It leveraged Apple's Newsstand technology to not only offer a subscription-based periodical, but to try and shake up a market filled with terrible InDesign PNG exports by offering a true, digital native experience. The Magazine wasn't as much about technology as it was for technologists.
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In the original forward to the first issue, posted on The Magazine website [via Archive.org], Arment said:
John Gruber of Daring Fireball, on the subject of The Magazine's launch, noted:
Along with the design team at Pacific Helm, Arment iterated it quickly. He also hired Glenn Fleishman to serve as executive editor, a role Arment was less interested in fulfilling himself. Arment later sold The Magazine to Fleishman entirely. Arment commented on the sale on Marco.org
Arment further elaborated on his reasons for selling The Magazine on his podcast, ATP:
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He has not sold Bugshot or ATP. Yet.
His willingness to try new things, to not ask permission or fear endeavors he has no background or experience in was the subject of Arment's talk at Çingleton 2012:
Marco Arment, through his work on Instapaper and The Magazine managed to not once but twice revolutionize the consumption of written material on mobile. His relentless drive to not only breathe bold, new life into old, broken media models but to constantly optimize and improve user experience not only changed expectations, but redefined them. Mobile promised great content, when and where we want it. Arment helped deliver on that promise, and the most amazing thing is - he's probably going to do it again.
That's why, as part of the 2013 hall of fame, we're honoring Marco Arment, Instapaper, and all his big apps, past, present, and future.
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Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.