Vesper shutting down
A few weeks after Vesper launched I clearly remember I was in Union Square in San Francisco, talking to a friend. At some point of the conversation we agreed on the following thought:
If they can’t pull it off, who can?
“They” is a sort of dream team: Brent Simmons, Dave Wiskus and John Gruber. I didn’t even think it was possible for Vesper to fail. Not to belittle the skills of Brent and Dave but I thought the “marketing power” of Gruber was essentially endless. An yet, here we are, reading about Vesper shutting down.
I am still very skeptical about the business model that has recurring cost (typically on the server side) and a paid-upfront-and-expected-to-be-upgraded-for-free-for-years app. Although Gruber mentions a potential (and user friendly) transition to a subscription model if Vesper had been successful, I still think that the business model was flawed since the beginning and it’d have been sustainable only if the first product launched (iOS app in the case of Vesper) brought in a big chunk of money to enable the next phase of the plan.
With Podrover I am doing exactly the opposite: I am building the web service first and adding further channels to access it (like an iOS application) down the road. It’s safer. Web technologies allow me to be more flexible in my plans.
That said, hats off to the dream team for building a well done and well engineered application. The diary that Brent wrote about synching is still a great read, after three years.
This is an adventure that every indie should learn from. Sometimes a great design, a great production and a great engineering is not enough. There’s many more factors to take into account:
- customers expectations
- flexibility of the platform on which you publish your product
- sustainability of recurring costs
- and, why not, luck.