revolutionary products

When Jobs announced the device, he called it “a revolutionary product”, one of those that comes along and “changes everything”. In many ways he was right. Merchant describes it as an agent of “civilisation-scale transformation”, the first universally desired, portable technology since clothes. But by the end of the book he backs away from this a bit. A welcome note of humility comes from an engineer who helped build the software: he points out that devices tend only to dazzle in their moment: “My wife is a painter. She does oil painting. When she does something, it’s there forever. Technology – in 20 years, who’s going to care about an iPhone?”

Jacob Mikanoswki. I suppose that depends on what you mean by “care about an iPhone”: in 20 years iPhones as such may not exist, but I suspect that most people will care very much about the always-connected way of life that the iPhone first made feasible and attractive. In the same way, if in the future every word of text is produced and distributed digitally, no one will care about the printing press; they may not even know what a printing press is; but they will care very much about the world the printing press first made possible. (I’m not saying that the iPhone as an invention is as important as the printing press. I’m also not saying that it won’t be.)

I don’t trust this stuff anymore. It was the very reliability of it — in user-friendly design, as well as stability of functionality — that was the basis of my choice in the first place, and continued choices for decades since. I don’t care about the brand itself, and I have no intellectual investment in the platforms as a developer anymore. I just need things that work, and that I can rely on working. I say this with the utmost regret, sadness, and no small sense of betrayal: Apple doesn’t seem to make those things anymore.

Good News for Mac Users

Cabel Sasser, writing about how 2014 went at Panic Software, breaks down November sales by unit sold:


And then by revenue:


Cabel isn’t totally sure what to make of these numbers, but he says that Panic is “less likely to tackle any huge new iOS projects until we get this figured out.”

For me, a Mac user who merely dabbles (almost always grumpily) in iOS, this is great news. For the past few years my fear has been that Mac developers would be seduced by the hope of getting the iOS App Store to promote their app, leading to a Flappy Bird-like killing, and in that hope would neglect to make cool and/or useful Mac apps. But it seems that, for the really classy developers anyway, the Mac is likely to remain the better option for a steady revenue stream.

On the iOS App Store quite dramatically, and to a lesser but still significant extent on the Mac App Store, Apple has a tendency to feature some pretty crappy apps: flashy, ugly, likely to have a short shelf life. See Marco Arment’s second point here:

Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 8.39.42 PM

Moreover, the Mac App Store has been a source of great frustration to some of Apple’s most creative and loyal developers. In the same post I’ve been quoting from, Cabel writes about the decision to pull Panic’s web-development multitool Coda from the App Store:

To be honest, I was pretty nervous to be pulling Coda from the Mac App Store. But when we finally did it, I felt an incredible, almost indescribable sense of relief — mostly because as we began to wrap up bug fix releases, we were able to immediately post them to our customers within minutes of qualifying them. My god. That’s how it should be. There’s just no other way to put it — that’s how you treat your customers well, by reacting quickly and having total control over your destiny. To not be beholden to someone else to do our job feels just fantastic. (Also to not pay someone 30% in exchange for frequent stress is a fine deal.)

One of the very oldest Mac apps, and my favorite app in the whole world, BBEdit, will also be yanked from the App Store, for very similar reasons.

So it seems that we have a strange situation here: brilliant developers, makers of extraordinarily useful and innovative software, remain deeply devoted to the Mac as a platform, but feel forced to distance themselves from Apple as a company — because that company seems determined to make it harder for them to sell their best products and serve their customers properly. What a crazy world.

© 2017 Snakes and Ladders

Theme by Anders NorénUp ↑