There is a huge disparity when it comes to the cost of apps these days vs the salaries required to sustain the engineers who make those apps. Even at $10/pop, you need to sell a lot of apps just to sustain the salaries of very good engineers, and THIS is what makes great products vulnerable to acqui-hires.
The problem is that the $0.99 model of the App Store makes a $10 app look ridiculously expensive, especially when there are free alternatives out there, even though it's only 2 Starbucks coffees. And even though $10 is worth it.
It's the price of the apps that have drastically lowered the expectations of what people need to pay for software, and this goes in direct conflict to the rising costs of great engineers' salaries.
I'm not sure what the exact price point is, but my guess is that people need to start getting used to the idea of spending $30-50 PER YEAR in a subscription model for a great app in order to create enough monetary incentive for the developers to keep their products alive. Otherwise Google and Facebook will continue to drop the bills and pick off the best teams who eventually get tired of the smaller comparative payoffs that these apps bring in.
When did we all start pining for everything to be the same forever?
Since time immemorial... it’s one of the few constants of human nature that does stay the same.
Oracle couldn't kill Open Office for example.
LO is actively developed and supported by both local and really Small ME-s, and the https://www.documentfoundation.org/
If I were to guess, these guys were also buried in support from paying customers who felt entitled to it. What are the economics of technical support for a $2.99 app?
 Source of the rank data-- requires an account but worth it if you're interested in this stuff: http://www.appannie.com/app/ios/492573565/ranking/history/#v...
Here's a screenshot if you don't want to create an account: https://skitch.com/webwright/eenji/sparrow-rank-history-app-...
Who knows what was happening internally, but on the surface: strong team of 5, $1-1.5m revenue their first year, tremendous reputation and another product in the pipeline. What more could you ask for to make a long term go of it?
I don't know about the Mac App store, but on the iPhone, their daily revenue was in a state of decline. There is SO much gravity in the app store. Stuff falls-- it's the natural state for almost all apps unless you have an ARPU or some marketing hack to counteract it.
I'm not saying they were in a crappy position-- though I'm not sure that a $2.99 / $9.99 email client is a good business bet for 5 engineers. Email is complex/weird and users will want support-- with a LTV of $2/$6, it's really hard to afford to support them well. You can't afford marketing. You're competing with $200k comp packages for your team.
$1-1.5m per year is a realistic estimate, IMO. Of course, if Google was offering the rumored $25M, taking a 25x payday is pretty hard to resist.
With the lump sum, you can do whatever you wanted to do, now. With the "annuity", you must continue earning the annuity each year, which significantly limits your options.
I paid $10 for Sparrow and got far more than $10 in value from it. So while I am disappointed that the best email app I have seen is EOL'd now I did get a decent value and I can't complain a whole lot. I am no worse off than had I bought a boxed copy of software with no promise for updates ever.
I would have paid $30 up front for Sparrow and purchased a large feature release for that price later down the line. Happily. That is a price far more in line with the value delivered.
How do we recalibrate people's expectations about the value of software back to pre-2008 levels? Not everything can or should cost a buck.
When I talk to many developers they tell me that everything should be free.
How do you recalibrate the consumer's perception of the value of software, when so many developers don't value software either?
I don't think that developers don't "value" software.
It would be a push to suggest that people who use Linux,Apache or Emacs don't see any "value" to them.
I'm sure if they though about it they could probably assign a high dollar amount that would reflect the utility they receive from these programs.
Personally I don't have a problem either paying for a commercial software or using an open source alternative.
It's when an application is either free (as in $0 or outrageously cheap) and closed source and I can't "get" the developer's business model that I would be very hesitant to rely on it.
Not necessarily. Most of the software developers use - from IDEs/editors, through version control, synchronization, web stack, to server software and even the basic but important tools like ls or grep - is free. Free as in "free beer". We are used to get tremendous value for free. We are used to give away value for free. And I'm not surprised that many developers (myself included) like this utopia, even if it is not currently sustainable.
A huge amount of OSS is fairly "developer facing" too, with possible exceptions of stuff like firefox of VLC (few people would imagine paying for a media player or browser today).
I agree though that bad FOSS evangelism may be partly to blame, if you tell everyone to "use Linux because it is free, all software should be free!" without explaining that price not the important part of the equation and you are a software developer yourself then I guess you can't be too surprised if people see that as endorsement to pirate Photoshop.
As someone who wasn't quite old enough to be interested in following this when it happened, I feel the need to ask:
Why did the App Store affect pre-2008 price-levels as much as it did?
Were most apps this cheap at the launch of the App Store, or did it lower over the year(s)?
Did Apple set any guidelines for the price-levels of apps, thus creating the levels we're seeing today, or was it entirely up to the developers?
Customers became accustomed to getting an amazing app for $0.99 (or even free), so they complain at best and refuse to buy at worst if the price is much higher.
Apple never provided any guidelines on pricing. The market went where it wanted to.
Yes, you can argue "hey, it's just $x" ($2? $1? $3?) Over time, those tend to add up, and when there's no recourse, I'd rather just not participate much.
In my opinion / recollection, prices dropped because some developers experimented and discovered that they could make more money at $0.99 - the increased unit sales more than made up for it. Of course, those increased unit sales were partly because they were one of the few quality applications selling at $0.99 - and once the other developers saw how the $0.99 apps were cannibalizing their $4.99 sales, they followed along to compete.
I don't recall Apple influencing pricing publicly, but god knows if they had any discussions with their initial, pre-announcement partners. It wouldn't surprise me if they pushed Sega to get Super Monkey Ball out at $9.99, since it sold for much more than this on earlier game platforms, but that's just me speculating.
One suggestion: Stop trying to push the cutting edge forward and start delivering value to people in the technical stone ages. In other words: B2B.
Stop focusing on entertainment or social value and make something that actually makes or saves money. People are still paying $12,000 per seat per year for the Bloomberg Terminal. Make another one of those.
I think this is overblown. There are a lot of business models, many that don't revolve around app-store-like freemium or one-time $1 purchases. They are waiting to be used. In the enterprise world, I don't think the app store has even made a dent in purchasing decisions.
And they even claim they are 'ripped off' because the free version of software does not do 'X'. And they post bad reviews and send hate emails. (First hand experience).
Somehow, thanks for Facebook and Google, people feel entitled to free software and service.
There seems to exist a group of people who feel that piracy isn't just something that you do because you can't afford product X and feel marginally guilty about doing but something that is somehow a fundamental human right in a "people who pay for software are mugs" sort of way.
I actually think this is the opposite. Open source users tend to be more informed and thus more understanding to software issues. They post bug reports and even talk to devs when required.
Someone who bought a piece of software will complain until it works as expected.
If open source software crashes on them they would just swear at it in the same way they would proprietary software, it wouldn't occur to them to take a stack trace and file a bug report (I guess this is why firefox offers to do this automatically).
I personally use free software, but I'd rather pirate something than encourage copyright-ridden software.
Are people really that a) stupid and/or b) evil?
You quickly lose your faith in humanity when you sell large volume of cheap stuff.
Open source software is free. Firefox is free. Thunderbird is free. That anyone would pay for an email client at all is exceptional.
It's not Apple who is at fault here -- it's us.
A better email client can only go so far:
- Gmail is already a great email client, I just plug other accounts into it
- I really want a good email client. For Linux
- Outlook/Thunderbird/Evolution may be bad, but they're usually good enough
Right now, there might be a few dozen million clients on the app store. What if someday there will be a few billions?
I'm not going to download an app that is useless to me, even if it costs nothing.
Obviously there are only so many people who use email and only so many of those are interested in using an alternative client.
Maybe that's just a short-term effect (yay, sale!), but based on the week they sold Sparrow for $4.99, there's a good chance they would have made more long term.
App store economics are weird.
So let me say this again. The App store, with its $1-5 apps, is a good thing for the developers as well as the users.
It is 2012, and when I purchase software, I don't buy into the premise that this software is going to be static for perpetuity, and this is because of the fast-paced nature of OS, platform and web evolution.
I "marry" the software I love, and I am very happy to pay for upgrades. I upgrade my Mac the day after a new OS X version is released, not only that, but I use non-large company software every day for years: Panic, Bjango, Made@Gloria, etc.
When I buy software, I don't only buy into the software I get, but I support it because I think it has a bright and better future. If I knew the developer was to stop development going forward, I would simply not support it.
Going forward, if I find that a small/medium developer has received capital from an angel or VC, I am going to stay away from it (I already decided not to use Foursquare, Path, Highlight, Kik and many other mobile apps for this reason) - the investor will have the need to flip the company, whatever the outcome for the software is.
Eric S Raymond made this point in "The Manufacturing Delusion" (http://www.catb.org/esr/writings/homesteading/magic-cauldron...). The value of software to a user lies more in the expected future value of updates than in the immediate value of using the software. This is true regardless of whether you pay for the software up front, and regardless of whether you expect to pay for the updates.
I would add this: the cost to a user of software is also much more than its price. To use software means investing time and effort into it, regardless of whether you paid any money for it. Then, as time goes on, you come to rely on the software's presence--you build your habits around the assumption that it is available, and bear the risk of disruption if it suddenly isn't. These hidden, non-monetary costs can be far larger than the monetary price paid, if any.
The problem is that the implicit non-monetary costs on the user side do not represent any benefits for the developer. That the user invested time and took risk doesn't give the developer anything--they only gain the explicit monetary price. But the implicit future benefits expected by the user DO translate directly into future costs for the developer--just as much as the present benefit corresponds to past developer costs!
So there is a big mismatch between what people intuitively feel they are exchanging. On the developer side, Matt Gemmell's comment quoted in the article feels right: "you paid, you got software." But on the user side, the story feels like "I spent time and wrapped my habits around this software, in expectation of its continued improvement, then found out to my surprise that no improvement is coming."
That said, I don't have any new shiny ideas on how to solve this problem. In the end, I agree that the developers of Sparrow owe the users nothing. But I also see why the users are reacting as if somebody took something away from them that they thought they had.
I used to do that—until I realized that 10.7 (and now probably 10.8) don't offer any substantial improvements to things I care about (as discussed here: https://jseliger.wordpress.com/2011/07/20/mac-os-10-7-is-out...). In other words, I've probably reached "peak operating system," in that marginal improvements to OSes are really quite marginal. That's also true, at least for me, of a program like Word. Have we really seen substantial improvements since, say, 2002? Maybe in stability, but not much else.
I'm not arguing that software itself isn't improving—a lot of software has a huge amount of search space left. But some doesn't, and we get diminishing marginal returns. Maybe I'll upgrade to 10.8 or its successor—Textmate 2.0 or iMovie 12 could be the inciting factors—but there's a solid chance I won't.
Would you feel confident going online with an OS that has known security issues that will never be patched?
1/ Put the computer behind a NAT router with no open ports/outside access
2/ Use a browser that hasn't dropped your platform (just because the OS isn't supported anymore doesn't mean you can't find at least one browser that's up to date with continuous security updates. There are still people porting Firefox to PPC macs, an initiative called "TenFourFox". You can also try Camino or iCab, two alternative browsers that have kept PPC compatibility)
3/ Don't open an email attachment unless it has been scanned through an antivirus
Point 1 and 3 are something I do even on a patched computer anyway. Your desktop shouldn't be directly exposed to the internet.
I've never ran an outdated OS myself but I would feel confident in using one as long as I respect those principles. The one thing I wouldn't be confident in doing, though, would be running an outdated browser or an outdated mail client. Security updates for anything that is in direct contact with the internet is a top priority and using an abandoned mail client like sparrow that doesn't guarantee security updates is a terrible, terrible idea.
I'll just go to push my local changes to it one day, and it'll be gone, and I'll still have the entire history of my project.
This was a company that was profitably growing like crazy and thus could effectively dictate terms. Whatever A16H's exit expectations are here, I'm pretty sure they are rather long term, and on the order of "github goes public" rather than "github is shut down after an aquihire."
Yesterday I was watching a presentation where Steve Blank said that the pyramid has shifted-- the big VCs have replaced IPOs and private equity, and everyone has moved up the stack. (So now instead of needing VCs for your first investment, for instance, there's accelerators like YC, then angels, then super angels.)
An additional value which VCs provide that hasn't been eroded that much is credibility to enterprises. It's a good guess that Github took the investment so they appear more credible to enterprises, i.e. they are going after Perforce and ClearCase
Although I guess you would lose whatever extra features github provides, which is partly why I build my git workflow around "standard" git.
In those days this wasn't considered an "acquihire" but a "successful exit" or a "base hit". (e.g.: not a failure but not the success that pays for all the other companies in the VC firms cohort that year.)
The VCs got about 5X on their money and because of liquidation preferences and other shenanigans, I, and the other employees, pretty much got screwed.
It's a case of "We don't like Google or Apple's apps, so we're going to _pay extra money_ to get something we like."
So when the Sparrow team gets picked up by Google _and_ we hear that Sparrow.app is becoming abandonware, many people think "the bad guys win again."
Of course, I hope the hue and cry about this will suggest to google that Sparrow might be worth maintaining after all. A mail app that people like? That can't possibly be a bad thing, can it?
Or open source the app code? c.f Intellicad when Microsoft bought Visio
The publicity and goodwill alone should be worth it!
Because they have a directly competing product. I'm sure that getting rid of a competitor factored into the acquisition.
The problem is that good UI takes an absurd amount of work. It's the difference between painting a wall and painting a mural. With Sparrow to copy you'd have a good start, but you have to be enough of a UI devotee to even notice what makes a UI strong, and you'll still have to do a lot of user testing and polish.
A country without the DMCA still has copyright law.
(Conversly, when I used GMail, it didn’t work that well with Apple Mail.)
Even if the developers' revenue plan (services, merchandising, whatever) turns out to not be sustainable, at least the remaining software is free (in the sense of freedom) such that others can fork it and can take care of it.
In that sense, Sparrow could have made a great move, since they don't plan to make any more money with their product: publishing their latest code base under GPL.
However, in that case Google might have hesitated to acquire them in the first place. On the other hand, MySQL has been acquired by Oracle despite being Free Software, and despite having existing forks such as MariaDB.
I don't think Google will release it as free software, but if they made it open from the start, maintaining it would be a possibility.
I think we are talking about more abstract things. We want this software to exist. We want these business models (small, profitable development companies) to exist. It's not just "I want to use this software."
I think a reason for these kind of reactions to acquisitions is that we feel or suspect that they are destroying rather than creating value. But, it's kind of hard to tell so we don't usually make that claim. For small companies, we know what they make and how many people use it so its easy to get a feel for the value they create. When Google acquires a great team, its hard to know what, if any value they create. Google obviously create enormous amounts of value but its hard to tell what a new team ads or subtracts from that. Much more nebulous are the effects that the existence of such acquisitions have on founder and investor motivation to start and fund these companies in the first place.
I think thats it at the core. A suspicion that such acquisitions are value destroying activities resulting in less/worse software being available to the world.
I remember in the late 90s there were still plenty of people around using Word 6.0 which was old at the time but still usable since MS allowed recent versions of Word to create docs compatible with it.
Now, if your favourite app gets pulled from the store (that your device is locked to), gets broken by an OS update or the developers simply release a non reversible update that you don't like you're in trouble. Not to mention the consequences of the vendor going bust or getting bought by a rival.
There seems to be a strong "C'mon just use an iPad and the cloud already!"
voice on HN, I guess I can understand why people are somewhat conservative about it.
No matter how much you are (or aren't) paying you are always both the customer and the product. Even Apple, who gets plenty of money from their customers directly, is willing to pimp out their customers as "400 million active credit cards" in the right context. At the other extreme, Google devotes an immense amount of effort to continuously improving search. They know that they live and die based on how happy you are as a search customer, even though they aren't paid even a nickel from searches directly.
I'll say it again: we're always both the customer and the product. There's no escaping that. Our only option is to decide which vendors' tradeoffs we are and aren't willing to live with. And black-and-white moralizing about whether or not "you're the product" gets in the way of picking the shades of gray that work for you.
An example of this is Quicksilver on the Mac. It's considered to be one of the best Mac apps ever and the developer who made it, decided to open source it after he decided to take a job at Google. Quicksilver development fell apart afterwards.
My point is that people who used the app did so because of the talent of the developer. A community can't always make up for that hole.
I don't use a Mac, and don't even know what Quicksilver was until I checked, but this was posted 17 hours ago:
Maybe development didn't follow at the same pace as before, but to say it "fell apart" when they are very close to releasing 1.0 seems not very accurate to this outside observer.
I'd still take "basic bugfixing and maintenance" over "gone completely" however.
I suppose in some sense it's a bit like owning a classic car, the warranty and support from the manufacturer is long since gone but there exists a community of owners and refurb businesses keeping it alive.
What happens the next time something gets broken after a major OS update? I can't wait for a few months to get it working again.
I'm not saying that open source software is lousy. I use it all the time. It's just that in certain situations you need the person there who created it.
Techspansion, however, was a good citizen and when a Mac OS X Lion broke VisualHub, he released a patched binary, so I'm still able to use VisualHub four years after it was EOL'd! :)
You probably were a quicksilver poweruser, but I don't think there were many of you.
Perhaps a neutral third party gets code access and a contract with the developer and users as to when/if it will be released?
The agreement between the Free Qt Foundation and Nokia gives them right to release the latest Qt version under a BSD-style licence if Nokia stop releasing Qt versions (GPL+LGPL).
The applications are still fully functional and are working perfectly fine until Apple changes anything they heavily depend on or something replaces imap.
You own your copy of Sparrow and it still works.
Imagine you buy a BMW and in 10 years you cannot get the required fuel anymore. Does this mean you only pay for a new car when you get all plans for the engine and the whole construction or do you just buy another car?
(I know that the comparison doesn't work 100%)
Or: There is some bug which gets active let's say after year 2013 or after 10k mails or so.
Or: (I don't know Sparrow so not sure if this applies.) You have created/build some app-specific content/database (like have done all your mail tagging with Sparrow) so you want to re-use it on future Apple hardware. Now assume that Apple introduces some new architecture (like an ARM MacBook) or makes some incompatible API changes in future MacOSX versions. Either you can't upgrade your hardware/OS or you will loose the app-specific work.
Since they want to keep it alive (in its current state) I believe they'd fix something critical.
Apple doesn't have a habit of changing things. If anything, I feel that Apple is too conservative when it comes to making changes.
Even cars from the 1950s are compatible with modern roads, also they can have a lead additive put into the fuel, or the owner can convert the car to run on unleaded petrol.
If your program is old and closed source (in this context , old cars are basically open source since they can be repaired by anyone with relatively standard knowledge and tools).
I never used Sparrow, but I'll assume that at least they worked with standard email protocols like IMAP and POP3 making a switch to another mail client feasible. Imagine instead that they had used some proprietary (and possible patented) web service API. Then their users would really be in trouble, and this is a sort of model many startups seem to be going for.
I know, I know, don't buy an application based on promises, buy it based on what the application currently offers. Wise words, I have learned.
People such as the OP get excited about having this pleasant thing in their life and the implicit relationship in that as long as you buy it, it will continue to improve.
For me it's the same reason early adopters back certain tech products, why fans will follow film directors and why we sometimes get disappointed when they don't follow the path we hope they would take.
This isn't a disproof of the "don't be a free user" philosophy; it's a disproof of the idea that it's a guarantee of success, which it never was, and never could be. The argument still holds.
I think that's a bad comparison - it implies the outcome would have been different if everyone voted with their wallets. Yet a saturated market would increase the odds of an acquihire.
They also would have been more likely to attract investment for development without a big partner.
They might still see reasons for joining Google, but financial security and investment would have been less important.
I don't think it has 'failed', as the article states. Paying for the software is necessary but no guarantee. If we slide back to everything being free, things will be worse. But even if we do pay, we cannot forget one very important thing: We are dealing with very small companies and all of the volatility that comes with them. The situation is simply exacerbated when the employees of that company are highly sought after.
It doesn't take Google to buy out a little company. They can just choose to get other jobs or spend their time other ways, get bored with the product, have a falling out, anything. Sparrow could have just as well said, "We're stopping all development on the email client today. 100% of future effort will be on games". And that's why boring enterprise software from MegaCorp still generates huge revenue, because they can go tell a GE, Chase, Honda or McDonalds something LittleCo can't. They can tell the customer that they can expect a specific level of support and life from the product, and here's 20 years of history to prove it, and that they're signing on with a $5 billion company that's not easily bought out. The cool stuff on the bleeding edge may also be fleeting. Large companies want stability, and I guess people using certain software do too.
Side-note: FOSS is a very different animal with interesting characteristics.
I seriously laughed out loud.
Don't get me wrong, I don't necessarily think his idea is silly, and I think he may in fact have a point. However, let's not pretend all those people who complained about the acquisition were doing this because they lost faith in this philosophy. That part is silly. Those people were just being slightly dramatic because they liked a product and it would no longer get updated.
Some people are probably just upset because of an irrational sense of entitlement ("I paid for X, and now I won't get free updates forever as the product is being abandoned")
But there's lots of other reasons that people can be bothered by this.
I use the Mac version of Sparrow (without using Gmail), and the entirety of my reaction when reading about the acquisition was "Oh well, I guess at some point I'll have to find a new desktop email client. That sucks, I liked Sparrow."
I do wonder what the community reaction would be if it was a different product though.
If Sublime Text (which seems to be attracting a good following) announced tomorrow that they were being acquired, and that the product was being abandoned, would people complaining about it really be that surprising?
Even assume that they were also going to continue with maintenance on it, but stop active development of new features. People would be upset. People on here would say "You should never have assumed that Sublime was going to get new features before buying it, if it didn't do what you wanted now, you shouldn't have paid money for it" (I've found myself actually giving similar advice in the past regarding buying smartphones).
People would write asshole-ish blog posts saying that those people were whining.
I don't think this is actually an indictment on the "paid vs. ad supported" dichotomy. Other people have rightfully pointed out that companies get acquired like this all the time, regardless of whether their products are free, cheap, or expensive.
All you can do as a customer (or as anything, for that matter) is give up the illusion of control.
This is the Sparrow story: A fantastic product was built, and exchanged for money. The people behind the product were recognized, and were acquired for a significant amount.
Everyone is a winner, and customers move on to the next thing.
What's more worrying is our reaction to an email client going under: it's clearly a sign that we don't have enough well designed products for a system that's been in mass use for more than a decade.
This statement is complete nonesense and I do not understand why it keeps appearing everywhere.
You are almost always paying for apps and services, and you are never the product being sold. Sometimes you pay with cash, sometimes you pay with ad impressions. But you always pay and you are always the customer that needs to be satisfied.
Facebook is not free. You pay for it with your willingness to have Facebook show you ads. Ad impressions are as good as money for Google, because they can exchange them for USD.
Google Search/Gmail/Maps are the products. And Google has to make them as good as they can. Otherwise you, the customer, will stop paying for them.
If we hate this, we can either make such talent acquisitions less attractive, or increase the value of software customers.
Talent acquisitions become less attractive when:
- The number of talents available increases significantly
- Economies of scale in software business is less substantial
- There's ethical pressure from online communities
- The act of "selling customers" (through data collection or ads) becomes less profitable or costs more (with things like DNT or ad blockers)
- More people are willing to spend more money on independent software development
- Access to software market is easier (with things like app stores)
- More revenue streams with higher payouts (like high-quality ad networks such as Deck and Carbon)
- Higher potential to get big (with VC money and building platforms/ecosystems)
Why is that? Because they have a working monetization model when they launch?
Selling your labour -> Selling your skills -> Selling your product -> Selling your vision
It sounds like you got exactly what you want. You got software that worked great, that avoided the traps of "you're the product" and produced a positive result for everyone. Then they got bought. But you know what? A thousand teams of engineers are ready to take their place, since a big payout at the end means there's considerable draw, and you really can sell an app at a bit above costs, be comfortable, and that allure of a _maybe_ payout at the end is enough to get over the hurdle of starting.
I guess it baffles the mind. It's like saying that big paychecks have ruined sports, because strong athletes are only in it for the money. Perhaps they are, but you get people who would otherwise do something else being willing to give sports a try because that potential paycheck is enough of a draw.
Thinking back, in unix-land no such jokes were pulled. Something abandoned? another trooper taking over. How the $#&% can you charge money for something _non-open-source_ and then just leave it to rot?
I would pay a hundred bucks for a similar app (or a monthly fee) if I'd be assured that the developers were dedicated to ME and THEIR PRODUCT.
Sparrow is above average. Congrats, I loved you for that. But you sinked your goddamn ship before it got half way. I'm only this pissed off because it could have been so much more. I will wait and see what glorious work you do for Google. I (and all the people who paid you money) await your work with great anticipation. Good luck.
"After residing in unix-land for almost a year I decided to come back to Mac OSX..."
OS X is a UNIX. A real, actual UNIX.
"...in unix-land no such jokes were pulled."
I am going to guess you were using Linux, which is not, in fact, a UNIX.
For what it's worth, I spent some time in Linux land. Over the course of a year:
1. One update left my system non-booting. After considerable research, I think I discovered it was a grub/kernel incompatibility.
2. An upgrade left my system non-booting. It was an Ubuntu upgrade from one version to the next, which failed with a mysterious and non-helpful error.
3. Another update caused my external monitor to no longer display the desktop correctly. I was forced to use the 1024x600 display on my netbook instead.
I am now very skeptical of Linux (on the desktop) land. All these issues resulted in a considerable time expense for me.
Now I'm thinking I'm happy to pay $x for operating systems like OS X or Windows...
Even ignoring the whole "code wants to be free thing", the source is important for the longevity of the code. If the software really mattered to you, you would negociate a license that gave you source. Even if you weren't allowed to resell or redistribute, having source that you could hire others to work on if you needed it is important.
In fact, I'd love to see a shift to make proprietary software include the code without license to redistribute the original code; Maybe just patches, maybe nothing. But I'd love to be able to peek beneath the covers and learn, fix things, and/or make sure it runs on new platforms.
Maybe for an organization, and in those cases a source-code escrow is not unheard of. But really it's just a lifeboat so you can move on gracefully.
I now want to pay for the desktop software I like as a subscription: it keeps the developer fed and on call, and doesn't put undue pressure on them to add features, while still keeping their revenue from me contingent on the continued usefulness of their product.
So if the hope is that buying small products will free you from the big players, yeah, that was always dubious, at least in the corners interesting to those players.
On the other hand, Sparrow got built, didn't it? And whatever you liked about it just got a big fat Market Stamp Of Approval. It wouldn't be surprising for similar features to start appearing in other mail clients, some of them open source. Maybe someone will build Sparrow The Sequel ("Google didn't get every egg in the nest . . ."). VCs just got more interested in pitches for email software.
How much this matters depend on what you want. If you want freedom from "you are the product", the complaint makes more sense to me. But if what you want is more innovation, well, Sparrow's DNA just demonstrated its ability to generate returns. And returns on innovation more generally have been validated. So it isn't clear to me that buying Sparrow "failed" to push innovation forward.
The days of software being unchanging are gone, that's a pre-internet way of thinking about computing, and it's perfectly fine to be upset that something you rely upon is no longer supporting you into the future.
We live in an era where there is an expectation that our software titles will keep pace with the rapidly changing nature of technology. The business model of ios is simple, the vendor takes 30%, while the developer is free to lure new customers with additional innovations/features without having to worry about the expense of updating everyone who has purchased the title already. It's the life blood of competition and a business model that many titles adhere to.
So whether the developer is updating the code for new devices, adding software features that are relevant to new emerging technologies or simply staying relevant by supporting the latest standards. We treat software like a journey and not a static point. Software titles compete by out innovating each other. The moment this stops the software title is dead, it's competitors overtake it quickly and rarely would any of us rely on a piece of software that is no longer being developed.
Paying more for something just so you can nurse a philosophy you like is textbook irrational. If you are paying more for something vague, pin down what you want and pay for that precisely. Here we have a fear of software we love disappearing - pay, explicitly, for it not to disappear.
I guess the take-away is that, if you're going to remain independent - you had best charge a premium. In fact, Sparrow already was a premium app - so it is conceivable they could have doubled or tripled the price of their product with minimal impact on the size of their customer base.
Rather than being paying customers of a software costing $15 and expect support forever, be a paying customer of software costing $5 a month and expect support every month, while you're paying.
With regards to perpetuity software, the developer only has incentive to keep on building the product whilst the market is relatively unsaturated. When the entire market has purchased the product, the developer is no longer incentivized to produce new features besides the ones he must build to fulfil his contract (e.g. fixing bugs).
With a monthly subscription model, the developer must continue to improve the product, lest his customers switch to alternatives.
Now I'm just sad the product will rot over time.
I know the commercial model is broken for this, but I would have been willing to pay more upfront and pay again for periodic major version bumps, assuming pace of development continued.
Can't comment on the Mac, haven't tried it.
I liked handling email in Sparrow. It felt modern, and now it won't get any better.
This could have been avoided if their software were open source, or if they committed to open sourcing it should they cease development on it.
Also, there is the other option I mentioned, that they commit to open sourcing it if they cease development on it. That kind of commitment can make people buying the software safe from having the product discontinued.
Software has always been a very high-end, specialized line of work, and qualified many developers still expect to make upwards of 80K a year (at least).
Well, what happens when the software industry starts suffering from the same crisis as the rest of the economy, in an irreversible way?
Because the thing is, I think this app is quite wonderful the way it is right now. I don't need any more features. As long as I can keep using it, I will keep being happy with it.
A cooperation is not the natural "business" model for software. It's a club. One won't get different results if one uses the same business model.
They depend on GMail.
They cannot even deliver push-notification for their iOS apps because they don't want to save your credentials on their servers.
The argument around Instapaper still stands as long as it's an independent, complete product.
False. Sparrow works with any IMAP mail server.
Sorry but you are an idiot if you really believed that.
Since when was Sparrow a competitor to Google?
I suspect we're a tiny tiny minority though. ;)
>In terms of numbers we've made more than half a million dollars in the past six months since Sparrow was introduced in February.
That quote is from August last year.
Back in the day, Sparrow might have grown over 5-10 years to be a big company to get swallowed up... but now, companies like google are so desperate for talent that they cut them off too early by making absurd offers?
As much as I hate working for big companies (and refused googles constant, persistent pursuit to go work for them) I'd be tempted by a $25M "Signing bonus" (or whatever a Sparrow Founder's split of that is....)