TextExpander’s Adjustments

Greg Scown:

To some of you it may seem we don’t care about our individual customers any more and only care about business use. We care about both, and in the changing software world a single focus is not a viable long term strategy for TextExpander. We did not make these changes easily or lightly, but for the long term life of the product so we can all enjoy it and engage with it for many years to come.

This confirms John Siracusa’s speculation of TextExpander’s decision over the past episode of ATP. TextExpander’s increase in price was a concious decision for Smile to want to sell to the upper segment of their user-base and extract more profit from a reduced number of customers – the ones that consider TextExpander irreplacable.

What Smile didn’t expect, is the intensity and scale of the backlash from the other segment of its customers (the one that makes up the majority), not the backlash itself. Evidence:

We will apply a lifetime discount of 50% off the Life Hacker pricing to customers of any past version of TextExpander. That amounts to just US $20 per year. In our initial rollout, we offered the discount for the first year only, and that was a mistake. We value our long-term customers, and it’s important for us to demonstrate that in our actions. Thanks for bearing with us as we sorted this out.

John Gruber’s take on a certain segment from Smile’s statement:

We will continue to sell and support TextExpander 5 for OS X and TextExpander 3 + Custom Keyboard for iOS for those who need it. Some of you can only use Dropbox and/or iCloud at work. Some of you cannot or will not purchase subscription software. You’ve told us that it’s important to serve you in this way, and so we shall.

This seems untenable in the long run. How long are they going to keep developing TextExpander 5 in parallel with 6? It’s hard enough to keep one version of an app up to date, let alone two. And TextExpander 5 won’t be generating any revenue. Plus, these sort of system-wide utility apps often need significant work when major new versions of MacOS ship.

I have no first-hand experience with the monetisation of apps or pricing models – or TextExpander, for that matter – but it’s worrying to see a lot of developers (including Marco, with Overcast and David Smith with Activity++) trying different payment models to try and sustain their business and almost always meeting with criticism – not the constructive kind – of varying degrees. At which inflection is an indie developer’s payment model labelled ‘sustained’ and what are the platform-vendor’s responsibilities towards that goal?

In Uncategorized by Mayur Dhaka