In what amounts to a very detailed and heartfelt white paper on building and shutting down a business, John Gruber wrote about shutting down Vesper, its iOS notes app and sync service.
Vesper was one of the sleekest and most usable software I have used. Sadly, it was too easy to give up once syncing hit almost everything in iOS, and while the product has a rabid fan base, it just wasn’t enough to keep the momentum going. He writes:
What he and his friends Brent Simmons and Dave Wiskus did wrong, he admits, is write the code in the wrong order. Had they built and sold a MacOS version early on – maybe for $ 20 – and then dealt with an iOS version (specifically a new iOS 7 version, for a whole new interface and for the iPad), they probably would have nabbed dedicated users of the desktop service and then improved their lives by offering them a mobile version. This is exactly what the Literature and Latte team did with the excellent Scrivener – they didn’t create an iOS version until it made absolute sense, especially given the poor usability of the apps. editing on iOS up to iPad Pro.
Gruber is brave and kind to share his autopsy. If you build iOS apps, please read what he wrote: you probably won’t make any money unless you go where the real money is – on the desktop – and then direct users to your iOS application. At the end, there is a light in the darkness of Vesper.
“Vesper is now free in the App Store,” Gruber wrote. “If you were curious about it, but hesitated to pay, you might as well check it out. “