Developer Interview: Samuel Clay Of NewsBlur, a Google Reader Alternative

TB: Is NewsBlur an app or a platform? Why?
SC: It’s both. The app is at, and it’s freely hosted for anybody to use. The platform is the NewsBlur API ( and it’s where the future lies. There are already a dozen services that use the API (the Android app and iPhone app being the most notable, but there are also bookmarklets and other one-off tools that folks have written). There’s so much possibility in the API. It’s also part of the NYC BigApps Hackathon, where developers will use NewsBlur’s API as part of a larger effort to make something novel in the service of the city of New York.

TB: Part of Google Reader’s appeal is the multitude of clients available on virtually every OS/device. How are you planning to (or have) combat that?
SC: I’m beginning to cover all my bases. The iPhone app will soon be available (and if you search for it, you can download a beta from the App Store). The Android app is out there, being used by dozens of users. I’ve heard of interested third-party developers on WP7. I’m there to support all of this happening.

Developers can even charge for their app, so they can ride the wave of traffic that comes with NewsBlur’s quickening growth.

TB: Can you talk about the number of users you have?
SC: Sure. I launched exactly a year ago and now have 25,000 users, nearly 500 of which are premium subscribers. Both of those numbers are growing faster each month.

TB: How is the freemium model working out? Would you do it any other way?
SC: Other than fiddle with prices, freemium is clearly the way to go. It’s odd though, since 90% of premium subscribers signed up for premium membership within 24 hours of creating their accounts. The model seems to be working well, but I am very tempted to use the Pinboard approach — one-time entrance fee, but Pinboard also has 18,000/25,000 active users. If I had an entrance fee, I would hope that my actives would closely trail my total count. It’s less likely, since Google Reader is so deeply entrenched, and Delicious is in a world of hurt.

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Romit Mehta

Romit writes about mobile news and gadgets, and is currently a Windows Phone owner (Nokia Lumia 920). Find him on twitter @TheRomit. Personal site is