Gumroad followed up the launch of its 5 month old iPhone/iPad app with the launch of an Android app this week, and once again the startup is raising a few eyebrows.
While Gumroad has made a name for itself in offering a minimalist marketplace where creators (or giant publishing conglomerates) can sell content, these apps won’t let you buy anything. Instead the apps let consumers access the content they already bought.
Both apps will let users read, listen to, or watch, on their mobile devices all of the products they bought via Gumroad’s website.
While it might sound odd for a marketplace to invest in an app focused on consumption, it’s not a first. Last May I broke the news that Feedbooks was merging with Aldiko in order to better offer consumers a seamless experience.
In retrospect, that merger had the same motivation as Gumroad’s new app: both serve a market need. Consumers now expect a seamless user experience where the content they buy simply shows up in a related app.
Or as TechCrunch put it when they reported on the iOS app in September:
Founder and CEO Sahil Lavingia told me that the company has largely focused on the “creator-side experience,” but he’s come to realize that “a lot of the bottleneck now is on the consumer side.”
Not that downloading content from Gumroad’s website was all that onerous, but Lavingia said people are no longer “used to seeing a download button.” After all, services like Netflix have conditioned us to expect that after you buy content, “You should just hit a button and it starts working immediately.” That’s also the expectation when it comes to accessing that content on multiple devices — again, there are ways to transfer downloaded content between devices on your own, but most people expect it to happen automatically.
I would have said that services like iTunes, or services like the Kindle Store, have conditioned consumers to expect the content to be available automatically, but in either case I agree that this is a common consumer assumption.