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Gumroad Launches An iPhone App With Which Users Can Access Their Digital Content

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Gumroad, the Kleiner Perkins-backed startup that allows creators to sell digital goods, is launching its first iPhone app today.

However, the app doesn’t actually do what Gumroad is known for — you can’t open it and buy a book, or an album, or what have you. Instead, it allows Gumroad buyers to view the content that they’ve already purchased.

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.

With that in mind, the Gumroad app becomes the place where you can read, watch, and listen to your Gumroad content. Once you’ve set things up, any purchases that you make from Gumroad on the web will automatically become available in the app. (By the way, “on the web” doesn’t have to mean on desktop or laptop — Lavingia said that mobile now accounts for 25 to 30 percent of Gumroad’s total.)

I don’t know how many people want to download an app just to listen to, say, one album, but as people buy more from Gumroad, the app should become more useful. As of launch, the company says there are already 8,000 films and videos, 35,000 books and comics, and 15,000 “music products” in the library.

So why not include the ability to actually discover new content and make purchases? I assumed it was because Gumroad didn’t want to pay the Apple transaction fee, but Lavingia said he’s not ruling in-app purchases out for the future. At the same time, he said the initial focus was on “creating an amazing consumption experience.”

Lavingia added that he doesn’t see the app as “a distribution play.” Instead, it’s the creators themselves who will continue to promote the content to their fans on social media and elsewhere. (Turning that promotion into purchases should get easier as Twitter rolls out its payment platform, where Gumroad is an initial partner.)

You can download the iPhone app here. And yes, there are plans for an Android version, too.