Smile Acrobatics

by Rob Poulter


This morning I woke up to an email from Smile Software titled "TextExpander 5 Lives!" and I was a little sad inside. Now I still think that their original plan of moving to a subscription pricing scheme was the wrong decision, but I really wanted to see that they had a plan for it. As tech pundits left and right have said, Smile has been around for ages, they should have a good idea about how the business works.

So they will still be making a standalone version of TextExpander 5 and 3 (3 being their iOS version which I think is where the real mistake lies, since people have been building their API into apps for a while).

The bit that has confused me the most out of this situation has been the reason for subscription pricing itself: teams and sync, with the promise that moving away from iCloud and Dropbox sync allows a greater range of features down the line. It would have made much more sense to build some compelling feature set based on their own backend and then move to subscription on the back of that.

Anyway, same old story: company makes unpopular change, Internet gets outraged, company backpedals. Cue next disaster.

Edit:

After loading up a couple of podcasts about the issue for a drive to a different town today, it really strikes me what a marketing disaster this whole thing is. In particular, I was listening to the Chat Across the Pond podcast with Allison Sheridan where she interviews Smile founder Greg Scown about things. The whole episode was alternately me yelling at the phone on my dash that they should have explained their syncing and collaboration rationale this well before they pushed out their subscription model, and yelling at the phone for not having the interesting stuff built before the change.

Anyhow, go listen to the podcast if the topic is even vaguely interesting because Allison asks some great questions and Greg sheds a bit more light on their end of the situation.