Fixes vs. Features

by Christopher Paul on July 24, 2012

The Google talent hire and subsequent shelving of Sparrow conversations just won’t die. And for good reason. I think we’re in a crossroads of sorts and both “sides” all make great points. But I challenge some of them.

Kyle Baxter wrote this earlier today on what purchasing an app entitles:

It certainly entitles them to updates—fixes to the application they purchased, which means it better fulfills its original promise—but not future upgrades, or new functionality. Why should it?

But what is a fix and what is a feature?

Take iOS 6. The new OS will require API calls and security checks for address book access. Presumably, Sparrow will not get the ability to understand that. So does Sparrow have a bug with iOS or does it lack the feature of address book access?

I grant that some minimum versions of iOS are required for some things to work. But in iOS 5, address book integration worked well. Now, it won’t. I see that as defect in the app.

I don’t care if Apple changes it’s policy. Something worked one day, now it doesn’t. Apple’s consumers who pay don’t make the distinction. Respect for the customer is important and to say to them you don’t get shit because of a semantic debate doesn’t earn anyone new customers. Now, people might say that falls under future support. But users don’t care about the difference.

It’s bad for all future app developers to let the terms of an acquisition kill their product. And, in Google’s case, they are not earning the users’ respect by not supporting the app for at least a year after the deal closes.

Previous post:

Next post: