Wordsligner • Dissident • Webwright

Vaporware insults, part 2

Published 04 December 2006

Wow–I’m really taking a beating on this one.

Without a doubt, the decision to pre-announce software may not be a good one. I still think, however, that my commenters discount the Omni cult following. There are many people who want to be inside the development cycle and know what’s going on. They like to feel like insiders. I contend Omni intended to serve these people by pre-announcing, not not chill the GTD market until OmniFocus came out. The Omni Group isn’t that big of a player in the software market. If Apple or Microsoft would have done the same thing, then yes, I could see that as a method of encouraging people to wait to buy their app instead of one currently on the market, but I highly doubt that a small shop like Omni could do the same thing.

Even had it been the case, how effective would attempting to chill the market have be? If the GTD philosophy truly has a cult, then I can’t imagine the users not trying both, especially when they need one now. I know Apple is going to come up with some amazing Boot Camp thing for 10.5, but I bought Parallels because I need the tool now. Midnight Inbox only costs $35–it’s not exactly cost prohibitive to get into now. I can’t imagine GTD cultists are too stingy to spend that much to get started today, especially when–at least by my guess–OmniFocus will cost twice that.

Lest we forget, OMG [Omni] USERS ARE CRAZY. The creation of OmniFocus is largely at the users’ behest. As Linda Sharps originally wrote during the development of OmniDazzle:

Some of you guessed correctly about what Brand New Secret Product is. Some of you are clearly insane and made us laugh until we sprayed Jamba Juice out our collective nostrils. And some of you – check that, LOTS of you – guessed that we’re building some kind of GTD app.

Brand New Secret Product is not a GTD app. However, we have been talking very seriously about building a GTD app, and collaborating with our friends Ethan and Merlin, and hearing so many of you tell us that you’re interested in that kind of software…well, we would really, really like to come up with something. We have some awesome ideas for how it could work.

In a couple weeks we’re sitting down with some folks here in Seattle and brainstorming what this GTD app might do, and how we might be able to get it out the door in a timely manner. We do have a lot on our plates these days, and we’re not a big company; we just don’t know yet if we have the resources. But! If you would like to send us ideas, feature requests, or just a plea for us to make it happen, please email omnitask-planning@omnigroup.com, in the next week if possible. (OmniTask is our code name. Shhhhhh.)

The Omni Group only pre-announced OmniFocus because of user demand for them to make it, and from the very beginning they looked for user feedback in order to fuel it. The Omni group pre-announced the software as a nod to their rabid user community, not in some bad faith manipulation of the GTD cult. They only reason they keep talking about it is because their users are howling for updates, and public betas simply aren’t ready. Such service to their user community doesn’t deserve the tongue-lashing they took.