If you were intrigued by our former coverage of Pulse, a slick reimagining of how RSS feeds can work on the iPad and iPhone, but were put off by the modest asking price, here's a good way to start your week. As the New York Times reports, Alphonso Labs has secured $800k in venture capital funding and is moving to a different business model. It is now trying to "attract more users, and with them, paid partnerships with publishers and advertisers."
This sounds like we'll end up with in-app ads in the long run, but for the moment, none are present. It's also likely that it'll be doing more deals with content producers to spotlight their feeds in the "featured" section of the app, which is a less intrusive way for them to generate revenue.
If you've never used Pulse, it's more like Flipboard than traditional RSS readers, like Reeder. It arranges feed content into attractive, image-heavy scrolling areas that try to create the feel of a glossy personalized magazine. This is both a strength and a weakness -- it works better with some types of feeds than others -- but overall it provides a pleasant way to catch up with the news over your breakfast.
Update: following numerous commenters expressing concerns that, having paid for a previous version of Pulse, they would now be subjected to ads, we contacted Alphonso Labs for a statement. Click through to see what it said.We would like to thank our early users, who have given us both time and money to help build the product to this stage. They have given us resources to build a company dedicated to improving their news reading experience. As reflected in its reviews and ratings, Pulse News has come a long way from its initial launch, and is hugely popular with users.
Based on our user interviews and feedback emails, we realized that our readers get thrilled when they discover a news source they didn't know about, or a news story that they hadn't heard about. We've gotten a lot of emails thanking us for introducing them to TUAW (which is a featured source). Making the app free will enable more of user's friends to join Pulse thereby improving discovery of interesting content via traditional and social channels. We can assure our users that the user experience will never be compensated - and this applies to all our users, paid and free.