Monday, January 8, 2018 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Panic Discontinues Transmit for iOS

Cabel Sasser (Hacker News):

Transmit iOS made about $35k in revenue in the last year, representing a minuscule fraction of our overall 2017 app revenue. That’s not enough to cover even a half-time developer working on the app. And the app needs full-time work — we’d love to be adding all of the new protocols we added in Transmit 5, as well as some dream features, but the low revenue would render that effort a guaranteed money-loser. Also, paid upgrades are still a matter of great debate and discomfort in the iOS universe, so the normally logical idea of a paid “Transmit 2 for iOS” would be unlikely to help. Finally, the new Files app in iOS 10 overlaps a lot of file-management functionality Transmit provides, and feels like a more natural place for that functionality. It all leads to one hecka murky situation.

[…]

  • This does not affect Transmit 5 for Mac. It’s doing extremely well
  • This also does not affect Coda iOS and Prompt iOS, both of which are still going strong

Jason Snell:

Totally get why you are doing it, still makes me extremely sad. Wouldn’t it be nice if Files supported other server protocols directly?

This is a real bummer for me personally, because Transmit is a huge part of my iOS workflow.

Steve Troughton-Smith:

Transmit, an app for transferring files, spent most of its iOS lifetime on a platform that didn’t have a user-accessible filesystem or files, where users learned to do without—tough to gauge anything from its success or lack thereof up to this point. No doubt it’ll return someday

David Sparks:

What is even more upsetting is that an app of the calibre of Transmit for iOS is a financial failure and none of us are much surprised. There are so many iPads and iPhones out in the world. Granted not everyone will need a world-class file sharing app, but enough should need it that an app like Transmit for iOS can flourish.

If this were a simple problem, it would already be solved, but I think it is a combination of factors: hardware, operating system, software, and App Store climate.

Dr. Drang:

I don’t upload podcasts, but as I use my iPad Pro more and more (I’m writing on it now), Transmit—in particular, its Share Sheet—has become a important part of my blog writing process.

Matt Birchler:

I have transmit on the second page on my iPhone and the first page of my iPad. It’s one of the first apps I mention when talking about how much more I like iOS than Android as well as being one of the apps that lets me go Mac-free more easily.

Michael Rockwell:

I’m not sure if Panic would have found success by transitioning to a subscription-based business model or if charging more for Transmit would have actually resulted in more revenue. But it’s clear to me that Panic needed a way to get more money from users that rely on and loved using the app.

Stephen Hackett:

I can’t help but see this is a bad omen for the iOS productivity scene. An FTP client may not be as exciting as whatever the hot GTD app of the year may be, but it’s the type of app that signals stability.

Ruffin Bailey:

I’m also surprised by this...

Also, paid upgrades are still a matter of great debate and discomfort in the iOS universe, so the normally logical idea of a paid “Transmit 2 for iOS” would be unlikely to help.

Is that really not worth trying?

My guess: with the sales they had, it was an iffy proposition even if lots of customers upgraded, and surely they have other apps that are likely to offer a better return for their development time. If you’re already busy, do you hire more or just drop the app for now? I do expect that it will come back.

John Gruber:

iOS is a vastly bigger platform, but high-quality apps that you pay for to use for work still do better on the Mac. Sure makes me wonder just how much of App Store revenue is from games.

Nick Heer:

But something is clearly still not right in the App Store economy if developers are finding it as difficult as they are — generally speaking — to make a living building apps for one of the world’s biggest platforms. Making progress on this, I think, ought to be one of Apple’s highest priorities this year. 2018 marks the tenth anniversary of the App Store and, while they may generally be averse to marking historical milestones, it would be a shame if independent developers had less hope of a successful career this year than they did in 2008. Based solely on the revenue and growth Apple announced last Thursday, there should be hope for developers. The giant pool of money is clearly there; unfortunately, smaller developers simply aren’t seeing enough of it. Whether that change must start with things Apple controls, or developers, or users, I don’t know, but it would be a shame if the App Store becomes the place for virtually all users to download Facebook Messenger, Google Maps, and a manipulative game — and that’s it.

Previously: Status Board Discontinued.

Update (2018-01-09): Cabel Sasser:

🤔 An interesting mental debate today after a weekend of intense thoughts and feedback from users: what’s worse, pulling an app from sale that you can’t reasonably maintain, or letting it sit in the App Store unmaintained?

② Pulling from sale is ripping off the band-aid. It doesn’t feel great to do, it makes some people feel dumb for buying your app (which I hate), it makes you look a bit stupid (which I hate). But it’s honest and truthful and is appreciated by many:

③ On the other hand, keeping it in the store unmaintained means people can still find it and buy it and use it! It does a ton today! But feels gross to sell an uncertain future? And how long until it breaks? And how long until you’re buried in 1-star “app is abandoned!” reviews?

④ I have no great answer. But I’ll note we’ve dropped 5 apps in our lifetime (Audion, CandyBar, Unison, Status Board, and Transmit iOS). Knowing when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em certainly isn’t the only reason we’ve been around for 20 years… but I bet it hasn’t hurt?

Update (2018-01-17): Federico Viticci:

It’s difficult to pin down what, exactly, made Transmit for iOS unprofitable. The iOS counterpart always lagged behind the cloud integrations from the Mac app (Backblaze B2 and Rackspace Cloud Files, for instance, never made it to iOS); Panic didn’t update Transmit to take advantage of major additions to iOS 11 such as Files and drag and drop; perhaps more importantly, Transmit for iOS is a product of the pre-iOS 11 era, back when the concepts of desktop-like file management and drag and drop were alien to the platform. Ultimately, I think Transmit for iOS lived and (slowly) died because we had it too soon.

But this isn’t a post-mortem for Transmit on iOS, which, according to Panic, may even relaunch as a new app on the Store someday. Instead, I’d like to take a quick tour of some of the alternatives for Transmit available on iPad today. In case Panic decides to pull Transmit from the App Store, or if the app stops working in a future release of iOS, these FTP clients and file managers should compensate for the features of Panic’s app. Most of them don’t offer the same sophisticated and polished UI design, but some of them may even turn out to be more flexible and better integrated with iOS than Transmit.

7 Comments

Adrian O'Connor

Nick Heer: Making progress on this, I think, ought to be one of Apple’s highest priorities this year
/Quote

Hahaha! Lol.

Adrian O'Connor

P.S. Really sad Transmit couldn't make it -- just checked my Purchased tab and it turns out I never bought it myself (despite me being a prime target for this kind of app, and owning all of Panic's other iOS apps and Transmit for Mac) -- I do remember thinking about buying it some time ago (and tbh I thought I had purchased it), but I guess I decided I just didn't want to create stuff on my iOS device and upload it to an SFTP server, it just doesn't appeal to me as a way of getting work done.

It does seem like the kind of app I'm happy to know is in the App Store though -- it shows a kind of healthiness of the ecosystem.

I might quickly buy it now, before it goes away, just in case I ever need it 😬

The reality is that even most pros who use iOS don't do pro work on iOS. There's pretty inherent problems with iOS for doing a lot of work. Apple alleviated some of them with iOS11 for the iPad, but enough remain that it's just not worth doing pro work on iOS. If you're doing pro work you go to your Mac.

"it would be a shame if independent developers had less hope of a successful career this year than they did in 2008. Based solely on the revenue and growth Apple announced last Thursday, there should be hope for developers. The giant pool of money is clearly there; unfortunately, smaller developers simply aren’t seeing enough of it."

Well, part of the problem could be coming from the fact that the App Store is the only distribution channel for apps on iOS. For instance, it would have made sense for Panic to be able to bundle the macOS and iOS versions of Transmit.

Sad to see, but understandable. Transmit was one of the few apps that made me think I could get work done on iOS. I was hoping iOS 11 would help, but unfortunately there is still a lot of friction around 'doing stuff' with the ease and immediacy normally afforded by a desktop OS. Seriously considering selling my iPad now...

Another random thought... this really brings into relief how many nice apps there could be, but don't exist because they'd be 'money-losers'. Many technological advancements were money-losers for a long time until they caught on or were refined sufficiently.

Folks are right to point out the immediate issue this type of high-quality app departure presents for the Apple ecosystem, but there's a larger issue behind it. We have a significant economic misalignment on our hands when useful, well-made, highly-regarded software cannot exist unless it is a mass-market success. We often blame the customer for not wanting to pay enough, but at least in the US, the average pre-tax income of the bottom 90% was already decreasing when the App Store was launched, and didn't get back to its 2008 level until at least 2014. In those six years (and in the meantime), rent, tuition, and health care costs certainly went up, so large swaths of the populace are not exactly in a position to be spending more on apps. Perhaps our existence as developers — our ability to create nice things — shouldn't be contingent on demonstrating mass-market worth to society.

>Is that really not worth trying?

Probably not. Realistically, Transmit 2.0 is at least year's effort for a full-time developer, so that's probably in the ballpark of a 200k investment for the company. In other words, almost guaranteed to lose money.

> Well, part of the problem could be coming from the fact that the App Store is the only distribution channel for apps on iOS

Yep. If Panic could sell the app directly, and offer it as a bundle with the Mac version, I think the economics might be different. I bet a lot of people who bought the Mac version would click a checkbox that says "bundle the iOS version of 50% off".

Stay up-to-date by subscribing to the Comments RSS Feed for this post.

Leave a Comment