Thursday, February 22, 2024

Muse Retrospective

Adam Wiggins (via Peter Steinberger):

You’ve probably seen the meme about product distribution, and I went into this venture knowing that productivity software is particularly difficult to market.


I’m deeply grateful to the folks inside the App Store editorial team who were rooting for us from the beginning. Getting featured here really is a game-changer. […] Also, leads that came via the App Store were very low quality. People would rarely see our website, or even read much on the App Store listing page. They would just think “oh cool a new whiteboard app, I’ll try it” and then immediately bounce out at the first moment of confusion or friction inside the app. Often coupled with a one-star review!


But we were often running up against a problem: many people followed our work via Twitter and the podcast but would say: “Love what you’re doing, but I don’t use an iPad.”


But a Mac app alone wouldn’t be enough. We needed your Muse boards to be available on both devices. After extensive experiments with iCloud (slow, unreliable, impossible to debug) and Firebase (better but not really suitable for the large data sizes our best customers had) we decided to import another piece of bleeding-edge research technology from Ink & Switch. Namely: local-first sync with CRDTs.


Apple platforms are great, but you have to be on the web. In terms of development speed, quality of the resulting product, hardware integration, and a million other things: native app development wins. But ultimately your product does have to have some web presence. My biggest regret is not building a simple share-to-web function early on, which could have created some virality and a great deal of utility for users as well.


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