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|Tuesday, August 23, 2016|
From Brent Simmon's blog here:
... and here...
... and from the same post as above, describing what comes next for Simmons...
These quotes aren't helpful.
This might be useful. Sounds like the app wasn't making much money.
If it's a client-side only app, that's no big deal. It costs you very little (your Apple developer account cost) to keep something on the app store.
There are two problems with Vesper, however.
The first means it's costing them money today (EDIT: Gruber adds that they were also paying licensing fees for the font. He's removed that portion from his post, but it was originally there). The second means it's going to cost them a disproportionate amount of time to improve the app tomorrow.
If today and tomorrow are overly expensive, it might be foldin' time.
Post Mortem Results?
Here's my guess at what happened.
It's amazing to think that folks with the name recognition, at least in Apple circles, of Wiskus, Simmons, and Gruber could fail, but they did. To Gruber's credit, he didn't pimp Vesper much at all on The Talk Show or, iirc, Daring Fireball a few months after release. But he didn't do the app any favors with that restraint either. Wear your own shirt.
I heard that Gruber was using Vesper on his Mac in the iOS emulator. I think that tells you something pretty important right there.
I think you can also piece together from Simmons' final statements that he wasn't interested in writing a notes app for the Mac, and I'd guess that this provides the three a good escape narrative. "If we'd only made a Mac app..." I'd counter with, "If that's a good market, why not do it now?" And if the syncing code works well, it's done, man. You're 50% of the way to a notes app already (sync and much of your design is done)!
Again, I don't think Simmons is interested in writing a notes app for the Mac. But I think the real answer is that a great Mac notes app wouldn't have saved them, even if the coding time was zero.
Good, but not great
Vesper was good, but not great. It was, unfortunately, buggy. There were a number of times that I couldn't see and/or add images in one screen orientation. Sometimes cursors would jump around. Sometimes I couldn't enter text. It's a notes app. That's bad.
The idea -- the design -- of Vesper was great. It wasn't a great app. Mediocre apps, regardless of design, tend to fail if they're not maintained and improved. Vesper's had how many updates since 2013?
Revisiting The Marco Effect
I think the most important take home here is that The Marco Effect is greatly overestimated.
That is, if Marco's apps were no good, he probably wouldn't stay in business. Heck, if Marco's stuff was decent, even solid, it might not be worth making.
If Marco had the same reach as The Talk Show and Daring Fireball, picked the wrong app, and that app was only "okay", they wouldn't be worth his time.
Vesper shows me we don't give Marco enough credit. It also tells me app dev is a very tough gig.
A cynic might say that Wiskus-Gruber-Simmons simply didn't want to "stick it out" (certainly they could cover even server-side losses for a while), or that 33% of the cash from decent is much less than 100%, or that Overcast is a labor of love & doesn't make tons of cash either (actually, Overcast does quite well), but I still see Marco being undervalued here. His apps do better because of both (business speak alert!) product-market fit and quality.
Nice of them to let us dump our stuff before it disappears, natch. ;^)
Edit: Tell me what you really think
Ouch. The reviews have turned pretty nasty.
Edit #2: Gruber weighs in, a little
Must've missed it yesterday, or it came in later than I catch up on RSS, but Gruber says he's going to do his own postmortem in a bit:
Will be interesting to see how candid he is. I'd like Jared Sinclair, Marco Arment-level candidness, but I'll guess we'll take what we get.
posted by ruffin at 8/23/2016 11:18:00 AM
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