Advisory Board Assignment #1 – ListPro for iPhone

Last week I let you know that you are the Ilium Software advisory board. When we’re trying to determine the best course of action, we really listen to our customers. That said, we’ve got an assignment for you.

As you know we’ve been planning to release ListPro on the iPhone. Working with a contractor, we actually made quite a bit of progress. Of course ListPro, even though relatively simply to use, is an extremelycomplex piece of software. Anytime you offer the level of customization that ListPro does, you’re looking at a ton of work. Throw synching into the mix and you’re talking about a monumental task.

That said we’re faced with a bit of a dilemma and we want to get your feedback. So if you’re up to the challenge, read on after the jump!

The Challenges We’re Facing

At this point, were facing a number of tough challenges. Here’s what we’ve got:

1: Behind Schedule
ListPro for iPhone is running behind schedule. While we had expected an August release, we now find ourselves looking at a release with limited functionality closer to early next year. (BTW – Part of the reason I’m talking about this is for you folks waiting eagerly for it – I want to make sure that any expectations we give you are real ones.)

2: Boatloads of Competition
Had we hit the August release date, ListPro would have been an early entrant into the list maker/task manager market. Now, list makers in the AppStore are as numerous as tip calculators. This “business issue” affects our customers indirectly. If we release ListPro and it fails to make enough money to maintain it, you’re going to end up stuck with version 1.0 and that will be that. Furthermore, ListPro is a huge investment to develop which means it has to do really well for us not to lose money on it!

3: User Interface Limitations
ListPro on other platforms makes heavy use of drop down menus, right clicks, sub-menus, and more. It relies on these to present all the needed tools for customizing lists. The iPhone doesn’t lend itself to this style of UI. We’re pretty creative over here so we’ve got some good ideas, but the overall experience is a bit more complex (in a full featured iPhone version of ListPro) than anything else on the device.

4: Synching is Vital
With eWallet, you made it clear to us that sync is a vital component of the software. Couple this with the iffy (but hopefully fixed in 2.1) upgrade process at the AppStore, and we have the potential for problems. This means that the project really MUST include some form of sync on the date of release.

The Solutions

We have two solutions that we’re looking at right now. What I’d like from all of you is your thoughts on these solutions as well as any other ideas you might have.

Solution #1: ListPro Reader
In this solution, we release a simplified ‘companion’ to the ListPro desktop software. Depending on the level of functionality, it might even be free. This application would allow you to:

  • Publish lists from the desktop over to your phone where you can read them
  • Check/Flag items on the phone
  • Sort, search, and filter
  • Click live URL links
  • Changes would not sync back to the desktop and there would be no other editing tools.

Advantages: Besides the fact that it would be free (you’d still need to buy the desktop version), it would take a LOT less time to develop this. We’d still be looking at a release date late this year at best, probably early next year, but it would be ready a lot sooner than a full featured version. In addition, it would lend itself very well to the simple UI common on the iPhone. Finally, it doesn’t try to compete directly with the gazillion list makers out there. It’s almost a portable database reader.

Disadvantages:It isn’t a full featured list maker and it doesn’t have all the features of ListPro. Also, it  might fail to bring any new users to ListPro. It might even confuse people. A new iPhone product can’t work if it doesn’t bring in new users as well as carry existing users over.

The Future:If the product does poorly, we can still keep it out there for long time ListPro users, offering minor updates as needed. We’d still take a hit from the development costs but it wouldn’t be huge. If the product does well, on the other hand, we could slowly expand functionality over time – perhaps even offering true list making tools in the future.

Solution #2: Full Featured ListPro on the iPhone
In this solution, we do what we’d hoped to do before – port ListPro completely to the iPhone. In addition, we’d include synchronization letting users sync their files back and forth.

Advantages: We could offer all the cool stuff that has made ListPro so popular over the years to a new audience. In addition, we could help all out existing ListPro folks make a smooth transition to iPhone. Finally, I could use all my personal ListPro lists on my phone! :) Woot! IF the product sold well it could become a major part of our business in the years to come.

Disadvantages: It would take a long time. My conservative guess would be middle of next year. Also, this would be very expensive to build. There is a very real danger that new iPhone users won’t care about ListPro’s power and want nothing more than a simple maker (half of which are free.) If this happened, we’d probably end up losing money. Finally, the app might be so complex to operate on the iPhone that all that power makes it unusable.

The Future: If the full featured version doesn’t do as well or better than eWallet, this would be the first and last version. We just couldn’t afford to continue development. If it does well, we’d have another great platform supporting ListPro into the future.

So there you have it…

Your first assignment! Let us know what you think. How would you handle it if you were the Product Manager here at Ilium Software? We really look forward to your input.

74 thoughts on “Advisory Board Assignment #1 – ListPro for iPhone

  1. Michael Mullaney

    First, I appreciate the way in which you honestly communicate with your customers.

    I have struggled without ListPro for quite some time now (now that I use an iPhone)…
    I must say that I would be happy (in the short term) to have a listpro viewer….

    When the full version comes, which I am anxious for… I really think that it will need to have Cloud syncing… in addition to syncing using SyncPro.

    This way, two people could share the same list, and each time the person opens the list, an auto sync is performed, downloading/unchecking/etc.. any items that were not previously on the list..

    a great scenario would be this..

    I am going to the grocery store, but my wife remembers she needs one more item.. she could simply open Listpro on the PC at home, add the item, sync, and when I open Listpro on my iphone, I sync, and poof! I have her newly added item… I think that’s important.. especially since there is at least one other company that already has an iphone app that does that.. ( I believe.. unless it is more of a WebApp.. but I don’t think so..)

    I thank you kindly, for taking time to read my response.

    Mike Mullaney
    (Future Beta tester of iPHone apps..) :) :) :)

  2. Karen

    I’d favour solution 1 – purely from the point of view that it gets a product out sooner and offers some of the flexibility of ListPro. Changes not syncing back to the desktop would be a turn-off though. As a potential new user for ListPro, I’d want two way syncing. Since enhancements could still be added in the future, I’d hope that this would be the first!

    Solution 2 does sound a high risk option, and given the time until it could be available I’d worry that it would be very difficult for you to compete with more established competitors by then.

  3. Pingback: Advisory Board Assignment #1 - ListPro for iPhone » iPhone Tricks

  4. Simon D

    Thanks for being honest about time scales etc!

    My major issue with the iphone at this time (having come from a ppc) is that most of the applications are rather basic to say the least – this includes the built in apps as well as most of the app store apps.

    All of the list apps appear to be too basic compared to listpro. The idea of a reader does appeal if we get it sooner, however a fuller version would be preferred. Although if it is too difficult to use it would in my opinion fail. The apple iphone OS is very pretty and does basic things very elegantly. BUT push it and it falls behing the ppc architecture. I am sure the apple fans will flame me for this but its true!

    Your future success is going to be from power users – most of who will be enterprise users. Get it right (as you have with ewallet) and you will clean up. Produce something barely improving on the app store offerings and you may struggle in my opinion. Quality pays off!

    Simon

  5. Marc Post author

    Great feedback so far. Thanks everyone!

    @Michael: Great comments. The grocery store scenario is one of my long term goals for ListPro!

    @Karen: Thanks for the honesty about synching. As for Mac, we are looking at this but in all honesty it would depend on the success of the application with Windows. If we can’t generate a strong enough market with iPhone + Windows, expanding to Mac (very costly) would just not be possible.

    @Simon: Thanks Simon. They can flame you if you like, but it’s true. The WM UI is geared towards complex interface architectures. Drop down menus, tap+hold, stylus control, nested menus. They all lend themselves toward the support of a complex set of functions. WM really does handle this scenario well.

  6. Norbert

    Hello,

    I believe, that I use ListPro from on of the first releases. First on the PC an later with PC and PocketPC. I love ListPro and I use it every day in office and at home. It was absolutely great,when I could sync my ListPro-files in office with my PC and the PPC and synch these files again at Home to my private PC.

    I think, the best way without any big risk is to publish at first the “reader-version” of ListPro (unfortunatelly for me!!) and then – depending on numbers of LitPro-users and numbers of requests for a full version – you can decide to realize the full version (I hope so!!).

    I hope my english was good enough to explain my opinion.

    best regards from Germay
    Norbert

  7. Daron Brewood

    Hi Marc I’d go with 1) as a ListPro Lite viewer, mainly to get the application out there and so the product is known. At least folks could then sync their lists in the interim.

    I think two way sync would be important though.

  8. Sam

    Sadly I have only used the trial version of Listpro desktop, just to check out. I really liked what I saw. But held off from purchasig it until there was a way of viewing/using the lists on the iPhone. So right now I would pick option 1 with the hopes of a more robust version to follow. If I had an option 1 iphone app available then I would for sure purchase the desktop version.

    I’ve been an ewallet user for years and love the iPhone version. So I know I would be happy with any listpro version I could get for the iPhone.

    Thanks

    Sam

  9. Steph

    First, let me echo other comments about how incredibly up front you folks are being about this whole decision process. I really appreciate the honesty…

    I bought an iPhone (moving from a PPC) in spite of the lack of Listpro, encouraged by the eWallet transition. It was a difficult decision, and I did it with the expectation that at some point I would have access to the full features of Listpro. The list programs that are currently out there can’t hold a candle to Listpro, and I have a lot (a lot!) of lists I do not want to have to recreate. I think that if you are to make this effort, your target users (and your future success) are the power users who want more than the simpler offerings from other producers.

    Having said that, I would settle for the first solution *if* the second were to follow. It doesn’t sound like that type of parallel path approach is what you’re talking about, though, so if I had to choose, I would prefer the second.

    Lastly, I’m a usability consultant (I design interfaces for a living) and I’d be happy to give you some help free of charge, since it’s clearly in my own best interests to do so :-)

  10. Slicker

    Re Options 1 v 2, I vote for 2. Option 1 sounds beguiling and lower risk, but the magic sauce is ‘two-way sync-ing’. Without it, Lispro risks failure for the wrong reason (marketing suicide).

    Long ago, I used ListPro and eWaller on my iPaq and fell in love with both. Now I am Mac + Iphone and so, unfortunately, until we have Mac versions of the app,s I cannot jump aboard.

    Finally, in my opinion ListPro will find a strong market above flock of simple list apps. Nothing that I have seen comes close. The time it will take you to develop ListPro tells the story: all of the current list apps look like they were quick to develop. Your product will stand out.

  11. Rick Lobrecht

    Marc,
    I don’t have an iPhone, so I’m not sure how much my input counts, but here’s my $0.02 anyway.

    You should survey your List Pro registered users (more than this question here.) Really just a few questions: Do you own an iPhone, how much would you pay for an iPhone version (5, 10, 15), given these 10 features, rank them. This should help you to decide if the more complicated version makes sense for you economically.

    I like the free reader idea regardless. I almost never do more than check off items on my WM phone. I do 95%+ of the list authoring on my PC.

    Rick
    (still keeping my fingers crossed for a Mac version of eWallet this year.)

  12. Jeffrey

    First, thanks for the honest update.

    I’ve been waiting for ListPro for iPhone since I got my iPhone in July. A “ListPro Viewer” just won’t cut it for me as I require the full database capabilities in my database app as I use ListPro for shopping lists, wish lists, errands lists, etc. If I cannot check off things on the fly and have them sync back to the desktop, then it’s a deal killer for me.

    The flip side to that is neither can I wait until the middle of next year for this. As much as I regret this, if my choices with ListPro are to wait another 4 – 8 months minimum for the full functionality or continue carrying my Treo around for this, it’s time for me to find a replacement database/list managment program.

  13. Jeremy

    I would dearly love to see a fully-featured ListPro for the iPhone and can appreciate your dilema.
    How about looking at the best of the list managers currently out there and perhaps going for a joint-venture approach with their developer? It should cut development time and share any risk.
    My other thought is to go-it-alone and create the full product on the proviso that we all understand it will be a long time in development. You could even ask us for an upfront donation, say a few dollars each. We’d all feel good about that and know that at some point next year we’d have a fantastic list manager we all know and love and have ListPro set the standard on the App Store.

  14. Will

    I have already so many lists in Listpro, made on my former PocketPc and my Pc.
    To be honest: I bought the Iphone because Iliumsoft promised to make an Iphone version for Listpro.
    And money: for my bizz I do not care to pay some dollars extra. So pls start developing the Iphone version, and during that time: give us a reaer.

    Thanks for your open approach!

  15. Doug

    Option #3 : )

    I use a Mac for my personal computing, a PC for work computing, and an iPhone3G.

    I was a longtime user of Listpro on my Dell ppc and often used the desktop version of listpro when I was still using pc’s at home. Once I switched to Mac’s, I haven’t used the desktop version of ListPro…but…I still used it on my Dell ppc. Then I switched to the iPhone3G and I downloaded one of the free, less-feature-full programs available. It gets me by with basic check lists and such.

    I don’t like it nearly as much as I liked ListPro….however, it does offer one thing that I find very valuable:

    The “desktop version” is actually a web-based app and the iPhone version is an app that can two-way sync with the web-app. Users setup a user account and then log in in either location (one-time setup required on the iphone) and voila….

    I like it because I can manage my lists from any of the three devices I use daily.

    If it were up to me, I would encourage you to migrate your “desktop” application to become a web-based application. Then, platform would be less significant.

    A consumer that chooses to switch from ppc to iphone, or mac to pc, etc would be able to maintain support/usage of listpro regardless of device.

    Sorry I didn’t pick either of your options…but…I’ve always been one to break the rules! : )

  16. Djtal

    1 – A full-featured version of listpro would NOT be just like all the other list makers on the iphone. There is nothing even close to listpro for the iphone now. If there was I would be using it! Nothing I have seen can customize columns, filter and sync with a PC. Shoot, I’d be happy with any list maker that could sync with a PC. To date I haven’t found one. A full-featured ListPro for iphone would set a new benchmark for iphone apps.

    2 – I would pay $20 for a reader this year to help fund development of the full-version next year then get a discounted upgrade to the full version when it comes out.

    3 – a reader-only version would satisfy about 75% of my needs for the software. When I used in on my Treo it was almost always read-only anyways.

    4 – What about a web-app version? hosted securely and accessible using Safari. I know that’s not ideal for most folks but would it be less expensive and faster to develop?

  17. Doug

    BTW…I have one other such program I use on my iPhone (not a list manager…just web based)…and I pay a $2/month subscription for the service. The company offers many pay-in-advance models…6 months, 12 months, etc.

    If ListPro were a similar web-based app, with an iphone sync-able app, I would be willing to pay by the month or year for the online service…as well as an appropriate fee for the iphone app, etc….

  18. Matt

    Hey there,

    I prefer solution #1, ListPro reader. My lists are extensive and complex so I tend to do the majority of my changes on the desktop. I’m more interested in simply having access to the information on the iPhone and not as concerned with being able to make updates to the lists from the device.

    The ability to publish lists to the iPhone and read them would be fantastic.

  19. Kevin White

    I feel weird posting on here since I’m otherwise about ten feet away from Marc, but :)

    Now that I have my iPhone, I’ve found that a combination of Toodledo.com and a syncing app on the iPhone (I’m using Toodledo’s app but I was using Appigo Todo) handles what I used to use ListPro for when I had a Windows Mobile phone.

    I never really used ListPro as a reference list, only as a todo/shopping list. The thing that’s really useful for me is being able to manage my list in one place, sync to the iPhone, and check off items and have them go away from the desktop. I keep a running shopping list since I can’t always get everything at once, and if I had a read-only program on the iPhone, I’d have to manually reconcile my list when I got back to a PC. That’s not really going to work very well. I’m supposed to have all this computer stuff so I don’t do things manually anymore!

    I would probably use the reader version, but I’d rather have two-way sync. :)

  20. Richard

    Not the news I wanted to hear – but understand your reasons. ListPro is the last piece of software that would allow me to move totally over to the iPhone from my WM device. I had even upgraded to the latest version in anticipation :-(

    My vote would be for route #1 but with two way sync of check marks if possible – with a move to a full version to follow. Although I’m really going to have to seriously look to see if any other apps will fulfil my requirements as I’m getting fed up with carrying two devices around just for the sake of on programme.

    I’m a user of eWallet and am so glad that you ported this over so quickly. Please see what you can do on ListPro – even if it is a two stage approach.

  21. chris

    I’m with djtal – I use it read-only on my Treo at least 75% of the time. That said, I actually sync with the desktop about once a month lately. I do a lot of beaming back and forth but rarely open WMDC simply because I sync the pim stuff with Exchange and a full sync for just files takes too long. I’m in favor of Michael Mullaney’s suggestion of (eventual) cloud synching for this reason.

  22. Max

    I am just starting to use eWallet today and it looks good. If you feel that eWallet will be a long-term premier choice in each class of application, then there’s an advantage if Listpro can be bundled as a suite – new iPhone users who get eWallet (like me) may be inclined to get the other applets from the same vendor. I want to use the iPhone as my primary productivity device. So I would use the list reader initially perhaps, but would want the full version eventually. Even – if you could edit the to-do list on the iPhone with 1-way synch from the desktop (and no override of iPhone-created entries) that could be a good foot in the door.

  23. Jim Showalter

    I have too many ListPro lists on my Garmin iQue to give up updateable access to them. I will continue to use my Garmin until ListPro is fully available on the iPhone. Any reduced version on the iPhone is of no use to me. I have a couple of other apps on the Garmin that the iPhone can’t replace yet , so this is not a significant disadvantage to me at this time. Disappointing, though.

  24. PS

    Option 1 is of zero interest to me. (And I’m surprised to see so many others stating a preference for #1.) I have a pocket device (currently iPhone 3G) to have something with me at all times that I can brain dump into whenever the thought strikes me, so I can modify my lists anyplace, anytime I need. Keeping ideas and list updates on scraps of paper, in another app, written on my hand, etc until I can get back to the desktop to enter them and sync them over to the phone… from my perspective, that is worse functionality than the free garbage that is already in the app store. Seems like if anything, this would establish a very poor foothold or reputation in the market.

    I can appreciate that ListPro is complicated and might take longer to develop than first thought. For what it is worth, I don’t see anything that looks like competition yet, and I’ve tried to find a replacement, even purchasing a couple of list apps in the $10 range. The App store is still aching for a well-thought-out, robust, and flexible list app.

    I wonder if there are other options besides the 2 you’ve listed? Like starting with a scaled-back product, but at a minimum, I think it would need to include a way to enter list items directly on the phone.

    Or if you are seriously concerned about re-couping your iPhone ListPro development costs (which doesn’t quite compute to me… the current, quickly growing iPhone market looks less lucrative than the dying Palm or Windows Mobile market? Really?) maybe the answer is to scrap ListPro, and start with a new product specifically for iPhone. (Sacrilege!) For my needs, I would be happy with a well-designed list-making app that

    1) doesn’t take 5 steps to enter an item;
    2) supports nested lists;
    3) let’s me manually sort or sort on field values; and
    4) retains ListPro’s excellent checking AND flagging abilities, so I can quickly toggle which items are shown on screen without digging into submenus.

    So maybe you sacrifice some of the calculations, compatibility with old ListPro files, the number or types of fields that can be used, etc, but you deliver something fresh and tuned specifically to the iPhone that trumps what is out there.

    Thanks!

  25. Tom

    I too bought an iPhone assuming ListPro would be ported, and I’ll be bummed if it isn’t. Here are my comments and/or suggestions:

    - Put out a read only version, so you can get folks interested in a future full version. Put some text in the application description in the App Store that tells folks a full version will be out, with your best guess as to when. Your serious competition will probably already have read this post, so you wouldn’t be telling them anything new.

    - The iPhone is too darned tiny and low featured to do a decent job of creating new lists with any complexity. Maybe you can have a simple list creation tool on the iPhone.

    - Syncing eWallet over WiFi is a pain for me, as my laptop is docked and hardwired most of the time. I have to remember to turn on WiFi, open eWallet on both my laptop and my iPhone, and then sync eWallet. This turns what was a one step process on my Treo to a multi-step process. Why the heck can’t you sync it over USB like the Treo? If this is what syncing ListPro will be like, then I probably won’t use it. I’m debating whether or not to dump eWallet for this reason.

    - I like the idea mentioned by another reader about auto-syncing over “the cloud”. I guess this means via some Ilium server somewhere on the Internet. This would be worth a lot to me and might be a source of ongoing revenue for you – as opposed to a onetime software purchase.

  26. JB

    I’d be happy with the first solution for now – if upgrades come later…

    I first purchased ListPro and eWallet back in 1998 and they have been core mobile apps for me and am dearly missing ListPro… I have been and will remain a big fan of your work!

    I would imagine it would be easier (and faster) to start from scratch with a basic iPhone app on which you can build increasing levels of functionality while taking advantage of the iPhone UI rather than trying to cram a WM app that was designed for a stylus into the iPhone and having to make a whole bunch of compromises that results in ‘special features’…

    It’s the simplicity of the iPhone’s UI that I find so appealing.

  27. TT

    Will it be possible to have a mixutre of both solution. I seldom edit my eWallet over the iPhone. I do it on the desktop version. If ListPro could provide the “reader” function with limited features at the beginning, then you will have the time to add on new feature one at a time.

    iPhone is handy but using it is not as simple as the keyboard. As you said, there are list software out there over the Apple App shop, they are not comprehensive at all.

    By pushing a simple version with sync function, it wouldn’t cost you a lot of investment but offer you the time and opportunities to find out the response from the market.

    Or, what about you simply forget the List Pro and start from scratch for a brand new List software?

  28. RM

    Thanks for the update guys. I have the desktop version of Listpro (running on Windows under VMWare Fusion) and use it extensively. I’d be delighted if you implement option (1).

    I found with my previous Pocket PC phone that I tended to use it for viewing lists whilst creating the lists on the desktop version. I don’t think this will change much with the iPhone – a viewer would be sensational and highly appreciated.

  29. PW

    Option 1.
    After that, syncing to the cloud is definitely the way to go.
    I don’t need the functionality to make new lists on my iPhone or redesign lists (like adding new fields).
    I do need syncing of updated data though in the long term.

  30. David Hiscock

    I also don’t edit on my iphone…waaaay too hard on that itsy keyboard!
    A reader that can sync one way with the desktop where I do my editing will do for now…..the full program came come later on…

  31. Ken Mason

    To put this all into perspective before I purchased the iPhone I checked the Iliumsoft web site to see if eWallet and ListPro would be available and when I saw they were it was the deciding factor in my purchase decision.
    Finally I communicated my thoughts about ListPro to Marc via email a couple of weeks ago.

    Based on my usage patterns I will certainly use a first release which is a reader only as long as Iliumsoft commits to a fuller featured version (with Synch) in the not to far distance future. Also I am prepared to pay for it, I am not expecting it to be free.

    While a “cloud sync” feature is interesting it is unlikely that I would use it, for the same reasons I use Quickens PC based products instead of their web based offerings.

    Marc I am however puzzled. Your preamble to this discussion, and our emails, led me to believe that you were deep into development. Contractors are not cheap (I am one) so you must have incurred considerable expense already. The only way you will recoup that is by ultimately releasing an iPhone killer app of the eWallet quality.

    So I think your question should really be, “If we release a ListPro reader (with the ability to transfer lists from the PC to the iPhone) ASAP will it keep our current ListPro users happy enough that they will first use it and second wait for our more robust offering.” Based on the previous responses I read the answer is overwhelmingly…yes.

    Now if you want to survey your users to determine what features they would like to see included in the robust version I think that would be welcomed by your user community.

    It is a shame that ListPro is proving to be so difficult because based on the quality of eWallet I have all sorts of suggestions for other products I would like to see you produce .

  32. Marc Post author

    I can’t reply personally to everyone right now, but I have to say that your responses are fantastic. You’ve already given us a ton of great stuff to think about, you’ve helped me to focus some of my ideas, and you’ve exceeded my expectations.

    Again, thank you for all the excellent, well thought out replies to my request. Feel free to keep posting! Also, once I’ve made a plan I won’t leave you in the dark about which direction we’re going!

  33. Dewaine

    I use both eWallet and ListPro extensively on my PocketPC. I bought the iPhone with the expectation that I could eliminate my Pocket PC and my separate cell phone. ListPro is the only hangout app right now – even though I don’t like using the app that allows me to transfer Word, Excel, and PDF files to the iPhone – since I can’t edit them there. I really think Apple is missing a marketing opportunity in not making the edit function available so that they can challenge the Pocket PC market.

    I have eWallet now on the iPhone. I can see using the ListPro viewer if it enables me to somehow transfer my current ListPro lists from my PC to the iPhone for viewing. When I need to change a list item, I would just make a note in my iPhone notes and edit my lists on the PC before the next transfer from the updated PC ListPro list to the iPhone.

    I have surveyed every list app on the iTunes store and none of them give the ability to sync with my PC and all data entry must be on the iPhone. Yes, there are a huge number of list apps out there, but they really aren’t competition for ListPro.

    I recommend your doing the viewer with as much tested functionality that you can by the end of 2008. Then continue on to do the fully featured ListPro by mid 2009. To handle the development and maintenance costs, you just need to price the final product appropriately. I don’t think you are going to lose market share of any significance except for those folks who just want a simple To Do list with no meaningful backup. Of course, one can’t predict what other companies or individual developers will do in the time it takes Ilium to get the final product.

  34. Andrew

    Past and Current eWallet user as well as a Windows Mobile ListPro user. I vote for a Hybrid option of 1 and 2.

    Fully functional desktop version with 2 way sync to iPhone. Allow users to check off items on iPhone, but also to add new items to existing lists and categories and let these minor changes sync back to desktop.

    If I have to pick just one, I could live with option 1 as I use listpro mainly as a shopping list. But there is always that “AHA” moment when you are out shopping and you need to add something to your list – maybe for another store that you will get later. This should sync back to the Desktop.

    The problem I see with option 1 is that if I sync a new list, go shopping and check off things, then if I sync when i get home, I have the original virgin list on my iPhone with no record of what I have done or need. I think 2 way sync of some kind is a must have out of the gate.

    I am not sure about the competition and if there is a business model for ListPro with all the other list apps out there. I have not tried any of the other list programs as my motto is ListPro or Die! like New Hampshire. :)

  35. Jay Wurts

    All I want is a List Program for the iphone that supports the following features:

    1. Syncs with a PC
    2. Supports outline type subtopics that can be hidden and revealed.
    3. Allows a “completed” checkbox
    4. Allows text notes for each TODO item

    For me, everything else is fluff.

    I am not aware of any other product that has these important features.

    I still use ListPro on my PC. I don’t plan to give up my iphone and go back to a lesser PDA just to get ListPro.

  36. Patrick Kelley

    If you release just the reader it will only appeal to people who already know the power of ListPro. However, it might also give people unfamiliar with ListPro the wrong idea about your product and your company if you made it widely available. I personally would not use the reader since I can’t update the notes on my iPhone. I’d rather stick with the simple text notes I’m using now.

    On my iPaq I had a number of custom lists with date fields, priority fields, and stuff like that, along with all the usual to-do lists. The current crop of lists on iPhone don’t seem to offer the same flexibility. If I was the project manager I would be looking very closely at feature sets of competing products. If what you’re planning to offer adds substantial value over what’s there today (which I think it does) then you can do a pretty straightforward risk/reward calculation based on the assumption that you’ll still be ahead of the market in significant ways eight months from now.

    I realize that the assumption you’ll still be ahead of the market in 8 months may not be a completely valid one. But that’s sort of what it means to be an entrepreneur, isn’t it? You pays your money, and you takes your chances. One thing that would help in this area is that you should consider, from here on out, the exact iPhone ListPro feature set to be a trade secret, so the other guys won’t get ahead of you. We, your loyal users, can work with a little vagueness for awhile because we know the wait will be worth it.

    I’ve already figured out that, coming from the PPC world, the iPhone implementation isn’t going to be the same. However, I believe you when you say that you are looking at creative ways to overcome the UI limitations. So, like my old poker buddies used to say, “Go high, or go home!”

    Best of luck,

    Patrick

  37. Tom Dowling

    I really miss ListPro on the iPhone, but not enough to carry my old Treo around.

    I would very much appreicate a ListPro reader on the iPhone, that would allow me to transfer my many lists from the PC to the iPhone and view them there. I can live without the edit function for a while. I would send myself an email to use in updating the lists on the PC. I sure hope the ListPro reader could be made available very soon. I would not expect it to be free.

    Eventually, I would want to see a ListPro editor on the PC. The main functions I would want are the ability to add new records, to make minor changes to existing records, and to delete existing records. Creating new lists or making major changes to existing lists would not be high-priority functions. I could easily get along without those functions.

    ListPro is the main thing I miss on my iPhone, along with a couple of applications I wrote for myself in NS Basic for the Palm.

  38. Charlie

    I would opt for #1. I don’t know how fungible your resources are, but I would much rather see you spend time and money on improving eWallet for the iPhone, especially allowing syncing to the cloud instead of the cumbersome tethering process.

    My personal experience with eWallet on the iPhone is that the data entry process is so tiresome (the phone’s fault, not yours) that I find myself deferring additions and changes until I get home. So, in effect, I have one-way sync anyway! I can’t see myself entering lots of data in ListPro on the phone either.

  39. Jim

    I use List Pro on my PPC mostly as a checklist (although I sometimes make my shopping list in it) where make my items on the computer and check them off on the PPC.

    I wouldn’t mind Option 1 (and I’d pay for it to help defray costs) if the checked off items could sync back to the PC. When the full version came out I’d pay for an upgrade.

    I also like the cloud sync idea if it could be worked out cost effectively, but that would not be a deal killer for me.

    Since I can still use my PPC (but wish to move away from it, I am also happy to wait.

  40. John Martinec

    I would like to see an OSX version of eWallet before I even see ListPro because I am getting by with Zenbe.

    I would like to see Zenbe like features in ListPro…..this means I make or edit a list on the Internet and it syncs to my phone. Likewise if my wife edits a list on her phone….I want it to sync to mine.

    I would also like to see it incorporate old lists because I have a model train colllection categorized in ListPro and I would hate to enter all of theat info again.

    First and foremost I want OSX eWallet.

  41. GC

    Solution 1 is acceptable if you include the ability to add items to a list. This would offer a solution that would fit the majority of users. My wife and I would be customers. We are already happy iPhone eWallet user.

    GC

  42. Simon Coulthurst

    Would agree with the posting by PC. Would MUCH prefer a fully functioning ListPro for iPhone, even if it meant designing a new product from the ground up. Only one caveat, it must include a method for importing ‘older’ ListPro files as I have one with nearly 700 entries in and don’t want to re-enter them all again.

    Another suggestion I would also like to see is the ‘cloud’ idea, this already works for me in a fashion as I have ListPro for Windows on two PCs (my work one and my laptop at home) and they both sync the ‘Documents’ folder between each other using SugarSync. Indeed, as SugarSync is now available for the iPhone, this might be worth looking at?

  43. Trevor

    First the demographics. I have an iphone. I am a long time ewallet user. I have never tried ListPro

    So from a selfish standpoint, of wanting ilium to stay financially viable so that ewallet will be maintained I vote for option #1.

    I don’t know where the app store market will finally settle, but it amazed me to see how much people complained about software prices. There were $10 apps that I thought were a bargain because of what they do. But before the app store limited reviews to buyers of the software, all you saw were complaints about pricing.

    But I guess option #1 would be sorta useless without synch which would leave you no choice but to go for a full port. I would say that if I were a ListPro user I would settle for no less than option #2.

    Now excuse my while I go download another tip calculator.

  44. Wyatt

    First, I must say that I’m a little disappointed in reading this but I guess that’s par for the course. I use ListPro for work so most of the time I create from my PDA. Having to wait to get to my laptop to create a new list, add an item or simply change it’s status would make it worthless. I was hoping to not have to carry around my iPhone and a WM device for much longer but I guess I have no choice but to now.

    That said. I personally would prefer Solution #2. A fully functional ListPro is an absolute necessity. The flexibility of how you can use ListPro and sync function makes it more than a mere list manager and more like a database manager. Those two reasons alone makes ListPro stand above all the other “Plan Jane” list managers out there for the iPhone.

    Even with that I think most people would probably settle for a hybrid of Solutions 1 & 2 as long as a full featured ListPro was being worked on for future release.
    Developing a hybrid solution allowing two-way sync, adding & changing of current items and checking off completed items from the iPhone with a full featured desktop client would be a good start. Porting over the full featured Windows Mobile version may cause undue delays just put in the necessary features including sync and update from there.

  45. Andi

    As you mentioned above, the programming of ListPro for iphone is very complex. Why construct the wheel twice? Ask CarbonFin for a licence of their app “Outliner” and develop this to an ilium-standard. This would speed up the development and would be in line with ewallet.
    At the moment i test outliner. I have to say that it is a nice application.
    I have an iphone with ewallet. Before i used a Windows mobile device with ewallet and ListPro.

  46. StephenMB

    I would like a reader. I maintain ListPro on my laptop but need to read it only on my iPhone. Full sync would e nice but updating on the iPhone will always be a compromise.

  47. Mark

    I have not made the move to an iPhone because it doesn’t have ListPro.
    I enter new items all of the time on my phone and a reader would not be enough for me.

  48. Graeme

    As a long time user (5+ years) I too would like to see a viewer, I have many list that i use when I travel without a PC and could in the short term do without the update functionality in the short term in the hope a that the full product goes ahead in the medium term.

    Graeme

  49. Ann

    I need the full version. I keep comparring ALL of the list programs to ListPro and frankly ListPro viewer does not compare to ListPro. I hate that I have to keep Axim around just to use my lists. And it looks a little silly to carry both my iPhone and my ppc. I am a mac user, and therefore am unable to use my lists on my computer. Please, please, please release the full version.

  50. DSolomon

    While I would love the full featured capabilitites of the ListPro I am used to using on my Windows Mobile devices on the iPhone and iPod Touch, it is actually the ability to import a list on the desktop and sync it to my mobile device that I trully miss. As long as this capability is included, it would meet the majority of my needs and keep me satisfied.

    I appreciate your update as I have been waiting anxiously for the release of ListPro for the iPhone. Keep up the good work.

  51. Kjartan

    I have been checking your website almost every day for the last two months now for updates on ListPro, and at last here’s the answer to the “delay”. I would have hoped that a full working version would come soon, but I can understand that such an impressive app takes time to develop.
    Add me to the list of people that really appreciates your update on this subject.
    And add me to the list of people that prefer option 2. I would unfortunately not use an viewer, as I in 95% of the time uses my iPhone to make the lists. However, I will wait for ListPro to arrive, even if it takes 6-8 more months.
    Keep ut the good work guys. I’m an eWallet user and been a fan of ilium since my first eWallet entry. :)

  52. Markus

    I’m not an owner of an iPhone nor I will buy one in the near future. I just like ListPro very much and want to tell you what functions I need most from ListPro.

    Most time I create new Lists on the PC and then put them to the PDA to work with them. So the viewer as you explained it would’t be enough for me but there is no need for a full featured version with which you could create or configure new lists.

    I would suggest a “Lite” version which has the functionality of the viewer you mentioned but with full 2-way sync. Additionally the possibility to edit and create new items is a must have.

  53. Bill H

    My first response upon hearing the news was to go to the ap store and look for a good to do list ap. The problem is that after using ListPro on both a Pocket PC and the desktop, the other programs just don’t measure up. I like the fact that an item in ListPro can have sub-items under it, that I can create templates that can be used over and over again, and so many other things that would take too long to list.
    Having asked many times for an update in these forums, while being disappointed at the answer, I have learned to appreciate the honesty that Marc displays.
    As to what option I would propose, while a viewer would be better than nothing, I want to create, add and check off items on my iPhone and sync it to my PC. Much like Markus in his post above, I would suggest a version with the basics that you can add functionality to in the months following release.
    I know there are risks and rewards in any venture. Your product has a big following already, and if it done in any way like eWallet was, it will be a success. Please strongly consider going ahead with the project, coming out with a syncable version with the basics in early 09, and then add to it as you go along. If you come out with a Mac desktop version at the same time, you will increase the chances of your success.

  54. Jeffrey

    In my prior response/comment above, I avoided “naming names” about competative softwares because while I immediately switched to something else upon reading this blog entry, I was less than happy with the results. I still won’t name that software.

    However, I think I should now say that I think that by taking so long, Iluim may have just lost the market. DDH, who I think is probably Ilium’s main competitor for this type of software, has just released their handheld relational database app for the iPhone, with optional desktop syncing. AND it’s a fully functional application where the user can edit and create lists on the go, it’s not merely a database viewer as Marc has proposed for ListPro.

  55. David Burton

    I’m currently saving lists I need to read on the iPhone into eWallet notes. Maybe another option would be to automate that on the PC – so I don’t have to cut and paste so much. Dave

  56. Brent

    As a casual user, I’d prefer a two tier setup. This is without considering the business case though.

    Both with sync and full featured desktop version.

    Rather than a reader, I’d want a “lite” version on the iphone as I would simply use it for minor edits, checkboxes, etc… I don’t need the full editing abilities on the phone. Call this the consumer version.

    For heavy users, a later release of the “Pro” version with all the bells and whistles and cloud sync etc…

    Perhaps with consumer and pro pricing tiers?

  57. Mark Stephenson

    I am so impressed and a little disappointed.
    Great that you are so honest, but disappointed that one of my favourite mobile programs is so far away.
    I use it daily and only committed to an iPhone when I found out you were developing it and eWallet for that device. ListPro is just brilliant, I enter data on the road and sync it with my home PC on return. As I enter data on both my WM and PC I need a full version, a reader is better than nothing, but entering data while it is fresh in your mind is much better.
    Is it possible/easier to make a basic data entry only version that does not allow you to customise the lists on the iPhone but does allow you to enter data and sync it? Any changes or new lists would need to be done on the PC.
    That would be fine by me, what does any one else think?
    Great work and great products guys…

  58. Jules

    ListPro is one of the two remaining programs I want to see make the PPC to iPhone transition so that I can leave my Windows Mobile device at home most of the time. eWallet helped whittle that list down, and I’ve been very happy with it – I’m really hoping for a ListPro that makes the transition with the same style.

    My usage tends to involve using the program on both PDA and PC for entirely different lists, and only syncing a much smaller portion of them between the two. I could easily change my working practices to do all the list creation on the PC, but I’d still want to be able to add or edit entries on the iPhone – sometimes you don’t get everything right before you leave home – and have a way of syncing back the important ones so I didn’t lose those changes. So what I’d like to see is a simplified version of ListPro (rather than a reader) as soon as possible, with the full feature set following along as soon as it’s feasible to develop it.

    One thought that occurs – I tend to upgrade software when I switch PDAs, rather than every time I get a new release, so I’m still running ListPro version 4.1. If/when there’s a ListPro that syncs to desktop (assuming the same model you’ve used for eWallet sync), I’d then be looking at upgrading all my versions to the current one (including the PDA). Presuming I’m not the only one in this situation, the revenue that the iPhone version would bring in wouldn’t only be from the iPhone app itself. Especially as I also use a Mac nowadays and would be happy to buy a desktop client for that as well as upgrade the PC one.

    I don’t, I confess, have much interest in a version that syncs to the cloud. I want my data on my own machines.

  59. Dean Ridenhour

    I have a few thoughts…

    - Choice one is of limited value as there are already several ways I can get simple “lists” to my iPhone to “look” at.

    - Choice two would be far and away the best as I could use my existing lists and not have to re-invent the wheel. It would also set you apart from the rest of the market.

    - Please DON’T go to a subscription based model. I hate these – having to pay multiple places each month. These are generally a deal-breaker for me and cause me NOT to use a product. I would much rather pay more up front (maybe even $100) to have a product that works and I don’t have to mess around with subscriptions. I HATE them.

    - Synching via a “Cloud” does sound like a good option as long as it is guaranteed secure… A lot of us keep very sensitive information in these lists.

    - How about another option… How hard would it be to make some type of ListPro to eWallet converter to let us “convert” our existing files to a format you already support on the iPhone and back? This actually might be a very viable possibilty if you could come up with a naming conventions for the Wallet “cards” that was easily recognizable as coming from the lists…. Just an idea….

    - Far and away the application I am missing the most on my iPhone is ListPro. It’s a great product and worth the wait for us all!!! Keep up the good work (just do it faster :-)

  60. Chuck

    I’ve been a use of both eWallet and ListPro, and synced by WM PDA with WIndows PCs at home and at work. It has worked well for me.
    Now I have switched to an iPhone, and love it. All of the list programs I have seen so far are a little stripped down. Okay for now, but I need more.
    If I can choose only one option, I’d have to choose the second one. I need to be able to update information on the iPhone. But, if I could have a reader sooner, I’d go for that, assuming that the full version comes later.

  61. Richard

    First, I definitely support having the complete solution of Listpro on Iphone/Ipod touch. It was a factor in purchasing an Ipod Touch that Ewallet and Listpro would be available.
    I’ve been using Listpro and Ewallet for several years on a Pocket PC and Windows computer. Recently I have migrated to a Macbook (which I love) and the biggest downside of that was that I didn’t have access to your software except on my computer at work.
    The Ipod Touch is a replacement for my PPC, which was stolen while I was traveling and I am looking forward to again having access to ewallet and listpro in a portable form.

  62. Prashant P

    Marc,

    Great post – as someone who works in product development I completely understand the choices you were weighing up. I think its good to educate everyone on the thought processes that go on behind the scene.

    I’ve been using Listpro for many years on Windows Mobile based devices. I recently bought an iPod Touch and might get an iPhone one day.

    I would go the lightweight option as v1. As you note, there is a lot of competition out there, and Listpro is one of those programs that you don’t fully appreciate until you start using (and relying on) it.

    Sure, as an end user I would love to see full functionality – but I personally won’t wait until middle of next year before chosing something.

  63. Eduardo Oliveros

    First of all, thanks for your sincerity expressing your problems in the development.

    This is the second time an application I’m waiting for the iPhone is delayed (what shows the difficulties to port a complex application to this device).

    My preferred option is #2.

    Most of the applications in the AppStore (including the “Lists” ones) are in general crap.

    I was an user of ListPro in my PDA and when I saw you were porting it to the iPhone it was a great news for me.

    I don’t completely understand why you are going to release a full-version of ListPro. My approach would be to develop a version with limited functionality (at least one that makes the difference, to me the ability of selecting the fields of a list). A improve it over time with added functionality (even establishing price for the update).

    This will allow, first, to position the product among the existing ones; and second, to start receiving cash.

    good luck!

  64. Pingback: Productivity - EWALLET by Ilium Software iPhone App Store Review by StoredApps.com

  65. Rick Trebino

    I haven’t read all the above comments, but I thought I’d add my two cents. I apologize if what I write may be covered by others’ comments.

    Based on the great experience I’ve had with eWallet and Ilium’s statement that ListPro for the iPhone would be available later this year, I downloaded ListPro for my PC and have spent many hours loading a life’s worth of notes into it in anticipation of its release. The time I’ve spent is worth much more than whatever price the ListPro iPhone software could cost. I’m willing to pay almost any amount of money for it. Even a primitive version of ListPro that only allows minimal edits, but which syncs with ListPro on my computer, would be fine. Most serious editing occurs on the computer, not the iPhone; the iPhone isn’t designed for inputting significant amounts of data. Anything just to get my current lists on the iPhone. Copying all my lists into another program, no matter how good it is, will take a lot of time. And, as we all know, time is money.

    So please release even a very primitive version of ListPro for the iPhone ASAP, so those of us who’ve spent all this time won’t feel abandoned by Ilium!

    And by the way, since I didn’t have a specific mobile platform for ListPro, I had to download a trial version, and my time is running out for it! Is there any way I can extend my trial version?

    By the way, I think eWallet for the iPhone is actually too good. I appreciate the time Ilium has clearly spent on it, but, as I mentioned above, no one spends a lot of time hand-inputting information into his iPhone–a device that doesn’t even have “cut and paste.” All that’s really necessary is to simply sync with the more sophisticated version on one’s computer. That’s what an iPod does with iTunes, and no one complains! So Ilium, you’re a great company, but you need to lower your standards a bit and get this one out! It’s clearly a case in which anything is better than nothing.

  66. Ken Moore

    Marc,
    First, I want to commend you and your company for having some of the finest customer service by phone, e-mail and feedback to your customers that I have seen anywhere. Thank you. I would like to echo the comments of your first responder above, Michael Mullaney.
    Being a recent (this year) convert to both iPhone [from Palm] and Mac, I have had a need to move the two most used apps to the iPhone. I am truly sorry to report that due to the delay in ListPro and eWallet to an iPhone/Mac sync, I have had to [temporarily, I hope] use your competitor applications for both needs. Probably will switch back when yours are updated, thus this visit to your blog.
    Rather than choose options 1 or 2, I prefer to list my own objectives and let you draw your own conclusions as to how you can target your product. Please know that I sincerely believe that for me, your applications are superior to the others on the market due to two features; capability & simplicity. My suggestion, keep it simple with just enough features for the user to stretch a bit. Here are my objectives:
    1. Cloud sync with iPhone & Mac.
    2. Easy edit checklists from both iPhone and Mac
    3. Priority (1-2-3) ability.
    4. Sacrifice the bells and whistles to get your simplified version out meeting the above objectives.
    Don’t worry Marc, your customer base will follow you as your new format evolves. Most of your competition is either making a checklist along with chess games or trying and failing [at the cost of the user] to develop a very complex milestone application. The latter is hiding behind the proverbial wizard of Oz curtain and won’t even answer the phone.
    We just need your tried and true program to carry into our new gadget.
    Keep up the good work!

  67. Kim

    I too very much appreciate you being so candid and honest with what challenges you are having with ListPro for the iPhone.
    I was reading the responses, feeling disappointed, until I got to Steph’s post. I completely agree with what Steph said! I too, have invested much time and energy in creating lists and templates and would prefer to be patient for the fully useable version to come out. I really think it will be worth the wait. I have completely scoured the app store for anything even close to ListPro. There is nothing even remotely close. I know that there are many many highly organized people out there that thrive on total organization, like I do, and would jump all over the “well worth waiting for” ListPro full version. I don’t like the thought of waiting, but would rather do that than have something that will frustrate me and send me off to one of the “lesser” list apps. I encourage you to please persevere and know that good things come to those that wait. Don’t put out something that will frustrate people. I would rather use the notepaper on the iphone and be very very patient.
    Thank you for listening and all of your great hard work!!
    Kim

  68. Marc

    Hey, everyone!

    Just wanted to thank everyone again – we are working on a good solution and will let everyone know our plans in the near (I hope!) future. Just wanted to make sure you knew we didn’t just table the issue!

    - Marc

    PS: If you’re in the U.S., VOTE VOTE VOTE!!!! :)

  69. Carl Regan

    I’m really late getting to this discussion, but here are my two cents. First I’d like to thank you for the honest appraisal of the situation.

    I am not really interested in option #1. I understand the problems with option #2 but I would intend my iPhone to become the primary instrument for updating the information stored in ListPro.

    I would still be interested in a 3rd option, a new version of ListPro for the iPhone as long as there was a similar application for my desktop and some method of transferring my current lists over to the new application. I could live without some of the features, I was happy with the first version I used many, many years ago, but I can’t imagine using the product without full sync between the iPhone and a desktop version. I also think there needs to be some method to share and sync lists between iPhones.

    I look forward to hearing your disision. I have been waiting for ListPro, but if you are going with option #1 I’ll have to jump ship and look for another solution.

    Thanks,

    Carl

  70. Edward

    The answer to developing ListPro for iPhone should be ostensible.
    * Both ListPro and eWallet are the best apps ever developed for PPC.
    * Apple developers of “list” or “task” apps are unexplainable idiots.
    * There are NO good list/task apps for iPhone as of 11/08/08.

    Business users want to switch to iPhone. We have to sacrifice much in switching platforms. Many of us are willing to make those sacrifices because iPhone is a superior interface. The primary sacrifices going from WM devices to iPhone are as follows:
    * No cut and paste
    * No Outlook Task sync
    * No Outlook Notes sync
    * No “Phat-Notes” or “ListPro” style database manager

    Simply put, if you put out a full featured ListPro for iPhone you will address all of the above listed issues and many more. You will make EVERY bullshit list/task/memo app available currently for iPhone OBSOLETE with ListPro.

    I think that ListPro is such a valuable and versatile app that I would spend up to $100.00 just to have it on my iPhone. Unless you purchased the iphone as a toy to use like a PSP, this application is a quintessential MUST HAVE. I know- I have been using these devices heavily for 13 years from Palm Pilot to PPC to WM to iPhone.

    We shouldn’t have to tell you how good this program is. Your past platform sales (hell from Handango alone) should speak all the truth you need about your projected bottom line.

    Please do not waste anymore time developing this full featured application for the millions of serious iPhone users out here still suffering from a real lack of professional software for this device.

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