A brief update on developments as more customers have been querying, via private correspondence, the status of Mori and Clockwork.
What’s Going On?
Besides cooperating with other small Mac software developers on the MacToSchool software bundle (get over $300USD worth of great software at $49.95 for school, research or just work) and its promotion, I’ve been trying to kill that continuing bug of the disappearing toolbar icons. Its solution has eluded me, but I’m either going to get it corrected today via a hack, or correct it in a restructuring of the Blocks plugin support as part of the v1.7 update.
The v1.7 update is two months past my original release plan and I’m not prolonging it any further. I will be posting the development versions in a special projects version called oneill, where the brave may play with it and see how it’s progressing. While the features promised in the plan are still scheduled for inclusion, the main emphasis on the first releases in this branch is on improving the UI and outlining features.
Clockwork v1.5 is also overdue for an update, but my ambitions for that release are not as great. Support for regular alarm clock functionality will be paramount, as will UI enhancements.
I still have my own project which I was preparing to release when the opportunity to take over development of Mori and Clockwork arose. More news next week.
Where Am I?
If you need to get in touch with me, there are the fora and email. However, I can also be found online on the Freenode IRC network inhabiting #macsb. My nick is huperniketes.
What Just Happened?
VersionTracker has been bought by CNET, the folks who survived the dotcom burst by doing a lot of consumer electronics stuff and turning into the online version of the seedy classifieds of an alternative paper. They also run the software sites download.com and shareware.com. It’s to be expected that a large public company tries to reduce the competitive landscape to enhance its properties. They might even be able to achieve success in the Mac market as a result of this purchase.
Unfortunately, the history of large companies buying smaller ones typically ends in misery for the smaller firm’s customers. (A concern voiced by this blogger’s customers after acquiring Mori and Clockwork from Hog Bay Software. However, Jesse’s organization is slightly larger as I have no cats.) Changes are made to meet parent company objectives and offerings are cancelled or shuttered to keep from cannibalizing sales from the parent’s main operations.
Why this concern over VT’s sell-out? Software publishers gain new customers due to publicity found on news sites, blogs and most of the time, software directories such as VT. Their traffic is over twice that of MacUpdate, which is more than twice that of iusethis.
In addition, CNET doesn’t provide its database of software as a resource for users and developers to be a good corporate citizen. It’s a profit center. And sometimes, profit centers enact policies to increase revenues at the expense of its community. Not only does CNET derive ad revenue from download.com and its sister site shareware.com, but they’re happy to charge developers up to $100USD per month to update their software listings. That’s for overnight updates, mind you. It’s free if you’re willing to wait, but it can take up to six weeks according to their promotional packages page.
Many VT paying customers have expressed their displeasure, stating they’ll not renew their subscriptions. My coopetitors in the #macsb channel on IRC consider download.com to be a non-issue, but with its traffic being more than seven times VT’s, and its larger resources, it will affect the distribution channel. In short, CNET is aiming to expand its involvement in the Mac market in a big way, and taking out the biggest third-party resource for Mac software is the way to do it.
We’ll see how this pans out.