New design & capabilities, Android in open beta, and a long-term business model to match your long-lasting relationships
It's been a wild ride so far. We were recognized as App of the Day by Apple, featured on The Today Show, and most importantly found an early base of people who love the app. On average, Cocoon users open the app more than four times a day, and have collectively shared more than a million things inside their Cocoons.
One-on-one conversations with the earliest adopters have been eye-opening. While we initially designed Cocoon mostly with families in mind, the app is being used by many different groups and in all sorts of different ways — families of course, along with friends, romantic partners, and even coaching circles and support groups. That said, every group using Cocoon has a common goal: they're seeking a private space to share more of their daily lives with people they want to feel closer to. And traditional social networks are too public and cluttered, while generic messaging apps are simply lifeless and limiting.
If you squint at it, messaging in 2020 is mostly the same as it was in 2010 or even 2000. Today's biggest messaging apps were explicitly designed as SMS replacements. When smartphones burst onto the scene, a fast, free, and convenient alternative to SMS was a brilliant offering.
Modern apps made it so easy to message anyone at any time, they became the principal way we communicate with everyone, all the time. Simply by default, not because a one-size-fits-all tool is truly the best option for every scenario. Scrolling through an inbox now in 2020 is a whirlwind tour of friends and acquaintances, family members and colleages, bots and businesses. All uniformly jammed into identical threads, within identical apps.
A lot has changed since the heyday of SMS. Technology has advanced to the point that many of our closest relationships have quietly become digital-by-default. These relationships take place mostly through our devices instead of in person. The ongoing pandemic has jolted this into perspective. For some relationships, sporadically messaging each other when we have something important to say has been just fine. For others, not knowing when we'll see each other next is a lot more painful.
If our phones are the only thing tethering us together, then relying on a generic messaging app from the SMS era as the home for these special relationships would be a sorry state of affairs. These apps were designed to make it as easy as possible to send a message to any random person in the world — not for keeping you close with small number of important people forever.
Message threads move forward in fits and starts. They're frozen in place unless someone has said something recently, but everything you say must be important enough to interrupt the whole group. Sharing something unrelated to the last message disrupts the flow, meaning you can only really have one conversation at a time... and being interrupted with a loud notification for every new message makes it feel like we're yelling at each other all day long. Sadly, an infinite scroll means that everything you share might as well be disposable — once it disappears out of view, good luck finding it later.
For the majority of the contacts that we'll ever exchange a message with, the convenience and simplicity of the old SMS playbook makes sense. But for the handful of people we truly want to share more with every day, why limit ourselves at all?
At a time when so many of our closest relationships are digital-by-default, we need a way to rescue them from the old shackles of SMS and give them room to flourish. The newest version of Cocoon is designed to let you do just that. It's the most natural way to share anything with your group, keep up many conversations at once, save all your activity for safe-keeping, hang out live, and effortlessly maintain an ongoing connection.
Thank you to the thousands of people who signed up for the Android wait list, and have been very patient! Over the past few weeks, we've been inviting waves of beta testers to try it out and we're excited to kick off the open beta. You can download the app from Google Play today. It's still a work in progress — we're a small team, and we're working hard to bring it up to parity with the iPhone app and beyond.
Fast, free, simple, convenient — this is how you would describe an ideal solution for most of the people you'll ever exchange a message with. But when your goal is closeness instead of efficiency, the best solution might be more intricate than simple. You might choose it more intentionally rather than picking a convenient default. And maybe it's okay that it isn't completely free.
We've been pleasantly surprised to hear from many of our early users that they are not only open to, but even excited to pay directly for Cocoon, given the obvious discomfort with alternative business models in a space designed for intimate sharing. We made a commitment from day one that we will never serve ads inside Cocoon, or monetize your personal data in any way — a direct paid subscription is the best way to align our interests with yours. As part of the 2.0 launch, we're announcing our plans to transition Cocoon into a paid product. We also have a creative way to ensure that most people using the app will never have to pay a cent.
The app will always be free to download, and you can create a Cocoon and use all its features with nothing gated behind a paywall. After two months, if you're finding it valuable, one person in your Cocoon just needs to sponsor it on behalf of everyone. Sponsoring a Cocoon costs $39.99 (USD) per year, or a little over $3 a month. We'll also offer a lifetime sponsorship for $159.99. You can be in as many Cocoons as you'd like, as long as they're all sponsored by someone.
We launched the first version of Cocoon exactly nine months ago, for iPhone only. We're really appreciative of the early group of people who have found Cocoon, and helped us shape its progress. Since our initial launch, we've built an Android app, added the ability to be in multiple Cocoons, and launched a ton of new features like flight tracking, joinable group calls, and the new archive. As a way to say thanks, any Cocoon that exists today or gets started before November 25th (our one year birthday) will be able to claim a lifetime sponsorship for free.
We aren't trying to connect the world, introduce you to new people, or help you keep in touch with everyone you know. And we're definitely not trying to harvest time and attention in order to sell ads to third parties. We're focused on one thing only: providing the foundation you deserve for the people you would like to feel closer with. That work is never done, so a subscription-based business helps ensure we can continuously support and improve Cocoon over the long term, matching the long term nature of the relationships it's built for. To all future customers: thank you in advance — we are so grateful, and don't take your vote of confidence lightly.