Clearly We Have a Problem

For the iOS 7 launch, Realmac Software announced Clear for iOS 7, a new, universal, paid app that was to serve as an update to Clear for iPhone, the firm’s highly-praised to-do list app.

As the App Stores don’t have a paid update mechanism, many developers toil away, updating apps for free, forever. Many developers took iOS 7 as an opportunity to drop support for legacy versions of iOS 7, give their app a visual overhaul and charge again for it.

It didn’t go well for Realmac and Clear.

In a blog post today, Dan Counsell — the founder of Realmac Software — wrote:

After having chatted amongst the team at great length, and given the (shall we say) emotional response from the folks who use Clear for iPhone, we’re changing plan slightly.

The company is bringing back the original Clear and updating it for iOS 7. The new release — now dubbed Clear+ — is $4.99 and universal. In short, iPhone users who didn’t purchase the new app will be getting the features for free. Both iOS apps will receive updates in tandem, creating more work for Realmac.

Here’s Counsell again:

As a small team, the backlash to the disappearance of Clear for iPhone has been incredibly tough. We’ve been working incredibly hard on Clear for iPad, and simply wanted to offer it in a way that was both sustainable for the team that builds it, and desired by users.

While having a paid update option in the App Store may have allowed Realmac to avoid some of this trouble, I think there’s fault at the feet of iOS users, as well. Marco Arment said it well:

Upset about @realmacsoftware asking for another 3 dollars for a big update to Clear and going universal?

You should be ashamed of yourself.

I agree. While I’m not sure Realmac should have caved to user demands or not, dealing with a tanking App Store rating has to be hard. I don’t envy their position on this, but the fact that any developer could end up here is crazy.

The bottom line is this: developers should be able to work on their product in a sustainable way. Realmac are some of the good guys, and to have to backtrack on a business decision is a damn shame, especially in a world where people pour money into IAP-based games day and night.