Saturday, April 16, 2016

Arment’s Advice

Marco Arment:

It’s easy to look at successful, painstakingly crafted, impeccably designed apps from well-known developers like Panic or Omni and attribute their success to their craftsmanship, design, and delightful details. Far too many developers believe that if they polish an app to a similar level, they’ll be successful, too. And then they pour months or years of effort into an app that, more often than not, never takes off and can’t sustain that level of effort.

These high-profile success stories didn’t become successful because they invested tons of time or had world-class designs — they became successful because they solved common needs, that people were willing to pay good money for, in areas with relatively little competition. […] The craftsmanship and design were indulgent luxuries that their successful market fits enabled them to do, not the other way around.


Recognize that indie development is flooded with competition. This isn’t to discourage anyone from entering it, but should be considered when deciding what to do (and not do): keep your costs as low as possible, and get ideas to market quickly before assuming they’ll be successful.

3 Comments RSS · Twitter

Kind of flies in the face of everything the indie Mac development community has ever preached, doesn't it?

@Kevin Most of the talk I’ve seen is about how polished apps are great for customers, which I think is true. I think they’re also good for retaining customers and growing organically. But all of this presupposes that there is product-market fit.

I think he's dead on. Although the one bit unspoken was what the market was willing to pay. That's simply changed a great deal from the naughts to the mature phase of the app store. It used to be that especially relative to Windows apps Mac users were more than willing to pay more for a very Mac-like app that sweated the details. Arguably often indie shops did better than Apple did in this regard. In contrast Windows apps had lousy UIs but got the job done and people were willing to pay for that niche as they were so often used in business.

What people want is the combination of the two and often that's just not there. The Mac market isn't the classic Windows market of 8 years ago. And users expectations have just shifted. A lot.

Anyway while Marco is correct I think he missed the history of the Mac (when he wasn't a Mac user) when users were willing to pay a premium for UI. I'm not sure that's true anymore.

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