In a surprise move, the makers of the remarkable line of e-paper tablets have added a subscription service For their latest device which enables its many more advanced features. A lifetime subscription is offered to all existing users, and new users get about a year free, so nothing will change for most, but it’s still an important pivot for startups.
NS remarkable connect The service comes in two tiers, a basic $5/month that upgrades you to unlimited cloud storage for your documents, then an $8/month tier that offers Google Drive and Dropbox integration, handwriting conversion, screen sharing, sending by mail, and more. Adds access to fast side-by-side. Without a subscription, devices will still sync but not for files left open for 50 days (so basically, you can’t use it as an archive). Anyone buying Remarkable will get up to $150 off buying a Connect subscription with it, which is pretty much a break-even in a year or so.
On one hand, it’s an unexpected and somewhat questionable move: charging for features that were essentially announced months ago as part of the remarkable suite of tools. And indeed those features were launched as normal free in recent weeks.
On the other hand, it makes some sense in terms of revenue and is about the best way to implement it: every current user gets it for free, and everyone else gets a free year, plus a free one. There is the option that does not cause much damage if you use your device very carelessly.
I’ve asked the company for comment on the reasoning behind this decision and will update this post when I hear back.
When I reviewed the Remarkable 2 last year, I was impressed by the hardware, the responsiveness of the screen, and the simplicity of the interface. But as I noted then, the tablet is really still a niche device, despite its strengths. After speaking with the creators several times, I am convinced of their dedication to the paper’s vision of a kind of future, with an emphasis on focus and zero distraction. I get that, and I’m definitely into it – but the digital economy fundamentally runs on distraction and overload, so it must be hard to make a piece of that pie.
The company has shipped well over 100,000 units and also raised capital, but dedicated hardware startups are few and far between. It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that the company is looking for ways to increase its earnings as hardware sales approach saturation.
Who knows, but it could be a knack for a broader “focused productivity” suite, something I’ll definitely use. My criticism of the device and service was that it did well for what it did, but it didn’t do enough. A Chrome extension added article saving, but as a Pocket user I wish I could connect to it. Same for other content that will feel better to experience on Remarkable. While I appreciate the minimalist philosophy, it felt arbitrarily limited, and now that there’s screen sharing and Drive/Dropbox integration, they can hardly argue against including other services.
By all means no email, no chat, no social functions, nothing like that – let me focus! — but let me focus on anything, not just stuff that fits through the bottleneck of remarkable services. Everyone can focus a little more in their life, but it also helps to reduce the friction in achieving that focus.
Oh, and the front light would be nice too, while I’m making feature requests. Look, my eyes are not what they used to be. help me