by Caleb Jaffa

Archive for September, 2009

Tweetie 2 Dustup

I am a web developer. It is something I enjoy. I also have enjoyed dabbling on the iPhone. I’ve done some consulting for it even. The one product I have in the App Store is a program to access an online Swedish-English dictionary. I mainly built the application for myself as the website was horribly slow to use in Safari. I decided that I’d release it on the App Store for other people who might be in a similar boat to me. I even charge for it, but it hasn’t come close to making back my time investment. In my description I mention at least twice that it only works online. Yet I still get negative reviews from people who apparently can’t read. It makes me glad that iPhone development is more of a hobby to my web development consulting.

Atebits just announced that Tweetie 2 for iPhone and Mac will be coming out soon. The iPhone version cause Apple provides no upgrade path will cost $2.99 regardless if you own Tweetie 1 or not. Those that spent $19.95 (or $14.95 during the introductory pricing period) for Tweetie for Mac will be getting 2.0 as a free upgrade.

It’s amazing to me how people feel like a one time fee of $3 is enough to demand free updates for life. Apparently despite not being subscription based, Tweetie on the iPhone should include full active development and updates with new functionality. Even though people complaining say it’s not about the money, I have yet to see a logical argument that doesn’t distill down to I deserve to keep my $3 and get Tweetie 2 for the iPhone. I think Jeff LaMarche did a great job dissecting sense of entitlement some people have. The Madden analogies fall down cause Tweetie is already sold for a low amount and Tweetie 2 is a complete rewrite. In-app purchasing isn’t a way around it either, it will just make the entire program more bloated and crappy to use.

It is all sadly reminiscent of a position I once took. I started in web development at primarily a development house. We had great designers, and I worked with them a lot, but I only ever knew about the stock photography as being here is a set of CDs and this is what we have to work with. Later I worked for more of a small ad agency and photo shoots, stock photography and everything to do with that was in my radar more. I once commented on a blog post about pricing web stock imagery. I thought since we only wanted low-res versions maybe photographers could sell the images cheaper than the high-res for print versions. I got back from photographers that the resolution of the image had little impact on the cost of making the shot. This point was driven home a couple of years later when I got into photography and I realized that to get a one megapixel shot of Delicate Arch versus an eight megapixel shot would still take all the time to drive there, hike and get the shot at the perfect time of day for lighting. I also don’t think any reasonable person would expect just cause they bought one version from me that it gave them any right to a free upgrade to the higher res version next year cause I used the money from sales to buy a better camera and make the trip again.

Funny how perspectives change when it’s your time, energy and talent instead of someone else’s.

Lexikon Update

Unfortunately Lexikon has been neglected more than I would like. This is due to some projects that came my way and also trying to figure out how to proceed with Lexin and Folkets Lexikon. Unfortunately both projects only get vague updates on direction and status if any at all.

I will be focusing on getting Lexion 1.5 out the door ASAP. It has taken more time in part cause of the ambitious desire to support all the languages Lexin does. I’m trying to do it right since I know how frustrating it can be to have software that gets it so wrong it may as well have not tried.

After that I will be focusing on an offline version of Lexikon that works only with a database on the phone with word pairs from Folkets Lexikon. This will be a separate application and I’ll advertise its availability in the online version of Lexikon with an introductory price.

I’m not going to commit to dates or timeframes for either project though as the money I make and the nature of the projects make them hobby side work to my consulting work. There just isn’t a very large user base of iPhone/iPod Touch users who are learning Swedish. Throw in that Apple is appearing to take at least two weeks to approve application updates right now. Trust me though that I want the offline version of Lexikon with the bigger dictionary of Folkets Lexikon as much as anyone else and so I’ll be trying to get it off and in to the hands of Apple to approve ASAP.

One last thing I am still looking for people who speak languages other than English who can take a look at how Lexikon will handle their language. Hopefully I have a good handle on how best to support each individual language, but since I don’t understand anything beyond English and some Swedish native speakers would be appreciated. I’ve had some people look at it, but none of them are iPhone/iPod Touch users.