Rearranging The Deckchairs

Frank O'Dwyer's blog

Tweetie 2 for iPhone

Tweetie 2 for iPhone has showed up a failing of the Apple app store model (there is no way to do paid upgrades - Mark Damon Hughes summarises the issue nicely here) and also created a bit of a stir. Now, Tweetie is a good app and I don’t actually mind paying for it. But then, I already have. Paying for it just once would be nice, yet I’ll probably upgrade to v2 anyway. Still, the feeling that Tweetie 1 users are just abandoned leaves a bad taste. And there are certainly a lot of bogus arguments flying around about it. Here’s a few: Tweetie 2 is a whole new app because it is a rewrite In other words, Tweetie 2 is the technical debt edition. As a developer myself, I hear ‘rewrite’ and internally translate: Tweetie 1 looked real purty on the outside, but on the inside it was an unmaintainable pig. So bad it needed a rewrite to do it right. Well, why is that our problem? Many developers would be a bit apologetic about rushing it out and cutting corners the first time instead of boasting about it and passing out the upgrade begging bowl so soon. $3 is not a lot of money If $3 is not a lot of money then why does Loren want it? It’s not a lot, so he won’t miss it, right, if we don’t pay it? So, he could give us the app for $0. By your own argument, it’s not a lot of money for him to forgo, and it’s not like we haven’t paid for it already. In fact, $3 is a hell of a lot of money when we ALL have to pay it - and some of us know this, because we’re not all stupid. How many users of Tweetie are there? 10,000? 100,000? 1,000,000? More? Is 6 months of anyone’s development time really worth anything from $200k to $2m? Probably not. If users don’t pay $3 then software developers will starve and there will be no more software This one is manifestly false because millions of lines of excellent software have been written and we all use it for precisely nothing. Some people have referred to Tweetie 2 as a labor of love - well, doing it for nothing, for the love it, that’s what that actually means. A lot of such software is part of iPhone and Mac. Where’s the three bucks for those developers? Why haven’t those developers starved? For comparison, even in the paid model, outfits like Flying Meat and Balsamiq manage to provide excellent support and products without gouging a full upgrade price every time all you want is a bug fixed. Sometimes doing things ‘the Apple way’ is not a good thing. For further comparison, millions of people live on $2 a day. Nobody said you would get updates in perpetuity No, but fixing the bugs for nothing would be nice. Especially for people who just bought the thing a week ago. $3 is not a lot for the ‘only twitter client you will ever need’ That line sounds familiar. Isn’t it what you all said about Tweetie 1? Maybe Tweetie 2 will also turn out to be so bad it needs a rewrite? It’s already clear that we should expect it to be no longer supported within 10 months or so, one way or another. That is the argument isn’t it? $3 every 10 months or so, or no more updates. So we can see what will happen when there are no more features to add, but there are still bugs that need to be fixed. What would have been better would have been to give a discount to all users on Tweetie 2 for a short time - i.e. a discount aimed at existing users, but since that can’t be enforced, allowing new users to get the cheaper price too. Say $1 less - and after all, $1 is not a lot of money right? So that should have been no problem.