Defending Feedly Pro's pricing

Credit: Source: Feedly

When Google pulled the plug on Reader and I (and many, many others) had to scramble to find a replacement, I had something of an epiphany about web services. As nice as it is to get something for nothing, companies need to make a profit to keep on offering a service. Quite a revelation I had, eh?

So when I finally settled on Feedly as my Reader replacement I was actually happy to learn they were planning a "Pro" version. I wanted to pay for it, if paying for it meant it was more likely to keep running.

Wanting to pay for a service sounds kind of nutty. We've been trained that the Internet is free, right? But hey, I'm a rebel.

Over the weekend Feedly announced their Pro tier. Feedly Pro adds the following features to your Feedly experience: Search (to me, the biggie), secure (https) access, integration with Evernote and priority support. The team promises more Pro features will be coming.

The Feedly Pro service will be $5/month or $45/year when it launches this fall but the company offered a $99 "Lifetime" Pro subscription for the first 5,000 users who signed up. I wasted no time securing my lifetime subscription and I'm glad I was quick. Feedly says they sold out in 8 hours.

For me, the Search feature easily makes Pro worth the money, but the tech blogs are beating the company up over the pricing. For instance VentureBeat ran Feedly Pro costs $5 per month for secure browsing & article search — and some users already hate it where they make the argument that because Search was free in Google Reader it should be free in Feedly too. GigaOm asks Is Feedly’s new paid RSS service a good deal for users? and while they never actually answer the question, they do point out that NewsBlur is cheaper and imply that Feedly Pro is too expensive.

The only valid point I'm seeing made is that https access should not be a paid feature; it should be available to everyone. Feedly has heard that particular outcry and said in a blog post

Note: we heard the people who would like to see HTTPS be also part of the standard feedly offer. HTTPS will be the first feature to go free when the next batch of feedly pro is available. Thanks for the feedback.

It sounds like 'the next batch' of Feedly Pro is coming this fall, so all Feedly users should have secure access soon.

Setting aside the secure access issue, I think the tech blogs are missing the point. The real reason we devoted Feedly fans snapped up all 5,000 lifetime memberships so quickly is because we want Feedly to have a sustainable business model. The additional features are just gravy, really (though Search is pretty important to me).

Sure Newsblur is cheaper, and if Newsblur suits you, you should use it. Feedly though, offers the Feedly Cloud that powers many stand alone apps. I use gReader Pro on Android, Mr. Reader on iOS and NextGen Reader on Windows 8, and all of those stay synced up thanks to Feedly Cloud. So no, GigaOm, NewsBlur does not offer similar features, at least not currently.

I just don't get the Feedly bashing. These companies need a revenue stream in order to keep the lights on. Casual Feedly users continue to get everything they were getting for free and I just don't see $45/year to be a lot of money for us hardcore users.

Am I wrong? Is Feedly ripping us off? Or is $5/month an acceptable price?

Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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