I know everyone is waiting with bated breath for the release of the sync component for iPhone. I’ve heard the grumbling and I don’t blame people for being impatient. And what I talk about here isn’t meant to make you feel happy or wash away frustrations. I just want to address these concerns, especially for folks new to dealing with Ilium Software, so you understand the way we do things.
I’m also writing this because when we first created this blog, we told you that we’d give you a little insight into what happens behind the scenes at Ilium Software. The things I talk about here really highlight the sort of decisions and challenges we face everyday. So if you’re interested, read on after the jump!
So let’s talk about releasing software. Here is my philosophy…
First and foremost, I will never release an application that isn’t ready. Period. If that means releasing it a week, two weeks, or even a month late, then that’s what I’ll do. I hate to do it. It screws things up here when we release past our deadline, it is frustrating for folks waiting for it, but quality is the number one most important issue when it comes to our software.
Of course that leads to the question of “then why did you release eWallet without sync?” I’ve actually addressed this a few times – same answer. While some folks can’t even use eWallet without sync, a lot of folks are perfectly happy with a device only solution. So, for those people, eWallet without sync was everything they needed and we could give that to them on day one. And the application we released is, in my opinion, the best in class. Sync for iPhone is a “new feature” and not a requirement for eWallet to be a fantastic product on its own.
Second, I hate giving release dates and generally I don’t. In fact up until this iPhone release, we have never given release dates for anything. And after this release I doubt you’ll see release dates given for other products. We’re not stopping because of this release, but for the same reason we never posted release dates in the past: software releases aren’t like building a car. You can’t predict exactly how long it will take to put all the parts together. Unforeseen problems come up. Glitches happen.
So why did we give a release date for this and the original release? Well for the initial release, we gave a date because Apple said “It will be out on this date!” Seemed safe to us. Ah well. Live and learn. And for the sync release, we wanted to assure our loyal customers that we really were going to release a sync component. We wanted to assure folks that sync wasn’t just a cool idea we had but something we were working on.
And boy, did we work on it. As I’ve said before, not only did we work on this thing constantly, putting in many extra hours to get it done, we even brought in contractors. We take our promises very seriously. Did we get it out to customers by the end of August as we’d predicted? Sadly we didn’t. I’m really sorry about that and it frustrates me. At the same time, the entire project was complete by August 27th and considering the challenges we faced along the way (we killed three computers during development – we must have overworked them!) I’m really pleased at the speed with which the team here got the work done. (My thanks to all of them!)
Third, whatever we do should treat the customer right. We gave out a LOT of free desktop software to thank folks for buying early (just ask Kevin, Lee, and Don who had to fulfil all of those requests!) We effectively halved our potential revenue as a way to show our customers that they always come first. Did we take a major hit? Absolutely. Do we think it was worth it? Without a doubt. This is how we’ve done business since day one and I like to think that this is part of the reason we’re still here 11+ years later. Now for some folks, it isn’t enough. I understand and respect that, but at least I know we did all that we could to help out the folks who supported us.
I’ll close by saying I don’t blame folks for being frustrated. I know this software is important to a lot of people. I also know that for some folks, sync makes the difference between eWallet being useful or memory filler on their phone. I also want to make clear that I don’t blame Apple. After the initial release we knew just what to expect from Apple. So does that mean it’s our fault? You bet. In fact as Product Manager I take full responsibility for a late release.
But at the same time, while I’m sorry for the wait, I wouldn’t have done it any different. The end result is a fantastic product we’re all very proud of, and one that we really believe is going to make folks lives easier. Releasing the stand alone version first made a lot of people really happy. Releasing the sync component a little bit late means we’re releasing the best software we could build that will work properly the first time you use it.
In the end, folks that purchase eWallet will have the best product in its class, that works every time they use it, with the best support in the industry to back it up.