¶ Making Things "Right"

I have long been a fan of Realmac Software and many of their various apps over the years. They are a fantastic company and some of the most talented developers and designers in the Mac & iOS industry.

But man, do they sometimes make some strange decisions.

For context, late last year Realmac released a new version of their to-do list app, Clear. This new version brought with it an iPad interface and a few other enhancements. They released it not as an update to the existing Clear, but as a whole new app, and they were charging money for the upgrade.

I, personally, fully support this approach. Businesses need money to survive, and making great apps is not cheap. I have absolutely no qualms for paying for a great upgrade to a great app. I am even okay with paying full price for it.

That seems to be Apple's preferred approach for app makers to take in the App Store. They did it themselves with the latest major upgrade to Logic. New app, full price.1

But, it appears that I am in the minority here. Presumably Realmac felt a pretty hefty backlash with the new version of Clear. So, they updated the old app with the enhancements they had made to the iPhone side of things, left out the iPad stuff, and put the old one back on the App Store. Then they made the new app known as Clear+, and its draw was that it has an iPad interface.

I honestly thought they should have weathered the storm and stuck to their guns, and it all would have died down eventually, but, I saw this as a fair compromise, as well. Existing users of the original Clear aren't left out in the water, and those who wanted an iPad version could pay for the new app.

But the drama didn't end there. I guess users still were not satiated, and today Realmac backpedaled. A lot.

They released updates to Clear and Clear+. The Clear update made it completely like Clear+, iPad interface and all. The Clear+ update made provided a way to go back to Clear if the user wasn't using iCloud sync. And it sounds like Clear+ is riding off into the sunset.

Realmac says they are making things right. The users who supported them with Clear and Clear+ paid twice to get shuffled around over a couple months. The users who complained get a freebie.

I'm not sure I agree that was the right move.

I really don't care about the money. It was a few bucks, and I love the folks at Realmac. I'm happy to support them.

What I take issue with is that for great developers to keep making great things, it is obvious that free updates forever is unsustainable. Apple is not going to give developers a way to give previous users a discount, that is abundantly clear. 2 And Apple led the way by example with a major Pro app of theirs. That example was to release a new app and charge money. Simple.

And Realmac seemed to be on board with that, as well as many other developers. It will be rough to train the pricing model that has been used for years out of people. And I don't think it will take long if many developers charge for major upgrades. People will realize the new world order of the App Store.

All that this backstep with Clear has accomplished is reinforcing the entitled folks who complain the loudest and longest that they can guilt developers out of a livelihood.

  1. And quite frankly, software is pretty much the only industry I know of that does upgrade pricing. I've never been given a discount on a TV because I owned a previous model.

  2. No pun intended.