My App Receives Its Gold Watch

As some of you may be aware my app has been running flawlessly for over 4 years without an upgrade, without any ads, working seamlessly through I can’t remember how many versions of iOS™ and more.  That said it has been officially retired. (If you still have it, so far it seems to be running fine but there is no support or any form of upgrades forthcoming.)

It would seem over the last few months with the advent of some particular upgrades within the Apple™ architecture for apps on the newest iOS platforms there needed to be certain updates to make them more secure and to ensure seamless use on the newest platforms available.

It was deemed without these updates and upgrades my app would no longer meet that bar and so it was removed from the store about a month or so ago. Personally I totally agree with this and have no issues with the call. However I would like to mark this moment and express some feelings or revelations I have about both the app itself, and some other things I believe are relevant and possibly instructive.

I first made the app available in the iTunes™ store in January of 2010. This was during the infancy of apps, and at the time many from the so-called “smart crowd” balked at the idea that apps would ever be a viable market. Today, they are not only viable (with Billions upon Billions of dollars sold) the app market is getting larger by the day. Apps are the market, most everything stated as to why there was no reason for apps (i.e., traditional software) is both shrinking and being replaced by what is now known as – the app. iPhoneAppPic

Research and studies have shown that even to this day 2/3rds of ALL apps never get downloaded – ever. And that number has been rising with the advent of more, and more being created daily. Mine had been actively downloaded right up until the day when it was removed. That’s after 4 years since it was first listed. I think that alone is pretty amazing.

I can make this statement based solely on the notices I received from people telling me (some complaining) they couldn’t find it when they were trying to get it last month. I personally know it was there just previous because I went and checked myself during a talk. We figured it was pulled sometime during the latest rounds of updates made to iTunes this spring. At least that’s what I’ve deduced speaking with some developers and reading from some others that had theirs removed also. (I could check deeper and get the exact date, but its irrelevant to me. It doesn’t matter.)

It’s quite possible I was notified as to take action on making changes about two or three months ago when I received a notification from the company I originally created it with. The notice was two-fold. First, it had stated my app was in need of an update/upgrade and it was available at no charge. Second: The company now handling the app was not my original people but had been purchased by someone else and folded into this new entity retaining the original name. My spider-senses started tingling warning me “Spam alert! Spam alert!”

Personally, I had no interest in doing anything for any reason. It had been working fine, there was no need in my eyes to touch something that wasn’t broken, and I felt, if I did, somehow, someway – ads would be placed within it. So, I just ignored them. I was probably correct in my assumptions but this was probably the iOS update I needed to keep it there also. Fair enough, but all I can say is: Ces’t la vie.

Two of the things I’m proud of is the fact it ran for so long, needing no update, again across multiple upgrades in platforms for so long. It was such a simple app, nothing more than a black and white reader of my latest 10 posts. It just goes to show simplicity at times can trump bells and whistles.

The other was this: I took the chance – and did it – having no idea if I would even still be writing in 2010 let alone conceiving of the idea today where I now can be read and/or pull quoted around the globe on any given day. Still astonishing to me as I think back on it. There were less than a handful with their own personal apps back then. It was quite a leap to even contemplate within my own mind back then. For like anyone I had my own doubts as I expressed earlier, if I’d even be around at the end of 2010.

I was thinking about doing another version but the more I thought about it, the more I decided against.

The reality is in today’s changing landscape of websites, readers, blogs, and more: an app just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense unless it has a special purpose that can’t be achieved any other way. And – provides an actual value that a customer will pay for.

Making something available for free with the burden to the customer of subjecting them to ads from who knows where is just plain dumb. It ruins, cheapens, and does a lot of other horrendous things to your brand or image totally outside of one’s control.

If you go through the expense as to develop it, then, relinquish the final product to an outside source that can put “highly questionable” ads in front of your clients just seems like not only a waste of money, but a stupid use of valuable resources. Need more Viagra™ ads anyone?

I have looked deeply into a lot of other people’s app that are in my profession or close to it. It seems many believe they need some form of an app to be taken seriously or, to be seen as “technologically hip.” However, their apps I’ve found are not only horrible, but they would be better off not having them at all. Most are down right atrocious.

They’re not just poorly designed esthetically, they simply don’t function with review after review stating as much. If you’re not going to fix something – take it down. It’s one thing to try something and it doesn’t work. Fine, we all do that, it happens. But to leave it there riddled with quirks or malfunctions is no different than leaving a broken front window of your business covered with duct tape. Month, after month, after month.

Pricing: If it isn’t worth charging $50.00 for – then it probably isn’t worth charging $1.99 either. Even “free” isn’t worth it in the eyes of today’s app savvy customer.

They don’t want the ads or intrusions unless you’re some blockbuster media site or new social interaction they can’t live without. If it’s for free they’ll use you however they see fit, but you won’t nor do I think you’ll ever garner a real paying customer in the future unless your app is a free portal to your larger business. e.g., Ebay™, Netflix™, Amazon™, and such.

You’ll never recoup those developer cost unless your app is worth charging and paying for. If not – I would skip the whole idea and focus my time, energies, and capital in other areas.

You can make the equivalent of an app if your web design is easily navigated and responsive to mobile platforms in both look and feel just by using the “make a home page icon” on your mobile device. If your logo or picture is properly placed on your site it will default as the icon badge picture.

Its free, can be done with any phone or tablet, and, is it really all that different in form or function than an app which may cost you thousands of dollars to basically accomplish the same? Again: for free. One should really give that some earnest thought before sinking both a dime or an hour of time into developing a stand alone app.

On a final thought I’ll end it with this for the serendipity or coincidence I found to be quite ironic as well as funny.

When I was first alerted the app wasn’t available any longer an update was posted to alert readers of the issue. In it one line read: “And No – we do not think this is some conspiracy, nefarious, nor retaliatory issue.”

Well I heard from many corners wanting to give me an earful of sentiments similar to, “Who do you think you are? You think the people at Apple read your little blog? Maybe you should check your hat size for inflation.” OK, fair enough.

Of course the “retaliatory” point came from my article where I pointed out my concerns where Apple may be shifting its focus. A criticism I’ll point out I made in the light of the way I would address a family member. I have concerns from what I’m seeing and what I’ve witnessed transpire from such things. I can be totally wrong but what I see through my prism of experience is causing alarm bells to go off. Not in disgust but more under the guise of needing more clarification because I just don’t get how this, fits in, with that.

The timing of that article and the realization the app was taken down was pure coincidence in my view. However, when the Wall Street Journal/Market Watch™ pull quotes my thoughts and prints them along side one of the most heralded music critics today? Then yes, they may not be reading my actual blog, but that doesn’t mean they never heard of me. (screen shot headline and where I appeared from the article)

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Now that is far better of way to remember one’s retirement than any gold watch wouldn’t you say?

© 2014 Mark St.Cyr