We broke the news back at the beginning of December that the wildly popular Twitter app Mehdoh had disappeared from the Marketplace. More ominous was the closing of the Twitter account and a Tweet from the developer, Chris Field, that working on the app was no longer enjoyable. Within a few hours though, all was back to normal and there were even a steady flow of solid updates, culminating with version 1.9 which will go live in the next few hours.
Yet all is not well. The app will be permanently discontinued very soon and pulled from the Marketplace. If you have it, it will continue to work for the foreseeable future, but we will no longer see any updates. From the Mehdoh website:
We're going to save our tirade and disappointment for next week's podcast, but for now, we'll go with what Tyler L. said when he tipped us on this: "This seems to me like a middle finger to all its users". Indeed.
Small update: Seems as if v1.9 has some problems with settings screen. A supplemental update may try to be submitted to the Marketplace and in the meantime, the developer has made the XAP available for those who can side load.
Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.
Oh no :( I will miss the the way Mehdoh handled links and pictures...
So I paid a month before it closed... great.
I appreciate the effort that goes into these apps by developers but it would be nice if they provided a little more courtesy than just shutting down like that. It is particularly disappointing for those that pay for the app. Oh well, rowi or tweet it it is then.
This is really not on. I can understand developers deciding not to continue if that's what suits them, but as m4tthall said, a little more courtesy should be forthcoming, and I don't buy these feeble excuses. In this case, there isn't a reason given for discontinuing, and the reason given for MetroTube was that Google are hampering a feature which is currently working properly and has been for a year. (Maybe it will be a problem in the future, and yes Google should be more cooperative, but currently it's fine, so why stop? And why not try to effect a change?)
And the very least these guys could do is leave their app on the marketplace. In a year or so maybe they decide to return to Windows Phone because there are more users, use a different name for their app, and expect us all to pay for it again.
And Mehdoh even has a serious intermittent bug that's been bothering me since v1.4, and as it will apparently remain unfixed there seems little point in me continuing to use the app. So no, I don't still have a working version on my phone, nor will I have any version were I to get a new phone. But I certainly won't be paying for a new Twitter app, as I've lost trust in developer integrity, even though I'm a developer (though not for this platform).
I agree with StubbornMinion, we as users have supported these apps like Metrotube and Mehdoh, shelling out money in some cases; to completely remove their app is just a slap in the face. I understand halting development (well, in Mehdoh's case I do), but why remove it?? It makes the deveoper community as a whole look bad, who wants to contiue paying for apps that can cease to exist OUT OF NOWHERE
Is it wrong to feel like a developer owes you something if you purchased their app? Since what you pay for is to get a fully functioning app and not a guarantee that the app will be supported forever, let's remember.
Honestly, as a user, I do feel a bit of entitlement, not so much for new features, but as far as fixes, because eventually Twitter is going to change their api and break this app. What if the 1.9 update breaks the app or we need to reinstall for it to even work like what happned just a few updates ago with Mehdoh?? It will be hard to tell someone who bought the app yesterday that their money wasnt wasted. Technically, a paying user has nothing to complain about, but pulling the app is VERY bad business practice imo. This is probably because of the assumption that the product you buy will still exist a month after you pay for it lol
And Mehdoh is a bit worse to me because from following their Twitter account they've continued to take feedback and suggestions even though the deveoper has known for a MONTH (to our knowledge) that development was going to cease. For example there were tweets saying something along the lines of "were looking at version 2.0 for push notifications and a new logo".....this is after the initial disappearance from the Marketplace...
I understand that most developers, like that of Mehdoh are just regular people with lives like everyone else, but when youre offering a service, things kind of hit a grey area.
This is really a question of business ethics. Interested to hear different takes on this.
I think it's just a consequence of an app store's reach - people who would never have properly published any software can easily submit an app, some even free via DreamSpark. This brings in a load of great talent but also many who have little to lose if they discontinue support or altogether pull paid services (no reputation blunder and low pricing means customers probably won't chase up).
If you're discontinuing a paid app, you must either refund your customers or continue to provide a method for your paying users to reinstall in the event of a hard reset or device change. MetroTube is doing this, and the developers of Mehdoh should.
Microsoft should in fact include such functionality in the Marketplace - locking discontinued apps from new purchases but allowing current users to reinstall.
It is AppHub rules that if the developer does not renew their annual membership (US$99) or goes through the process to have the account closed, all apps published by that developer will be immediately removed from the Marketplace.
I disagree with the last sentence: "This seems to me like a middle finger to all its users". I doubt this is the developer's sentiment. For various reasons it seems that they have had to stop developing the application and as they haven't stated why it suggests that this could be a personal reason. I don't know how large the group that develops medoh is, but let's assume it's a one man or two man operation. In either of those circumstances losing one member of the team would be catastrophic. Perhaps they've moved to a new city, got a new job (that requires them to stop developing applications personally) or developed a serious illness. Even if this isn't a case, might I add that products have a lifespan. I'm a developer myself and I've had to halt development on my applications recently because I have quite a crucial time in my education approaching very quickly. I'd suggest perhaps thinking about how your article will affect the developer next time and being slightly more respectful and professional, without trying to become an online tabloid and drive negative press toward the developer. People have feelings and this developer hasn't done anything wrong, so what if you spent a couple of dollars on a twitter client, the developer is not under contract to you to update their application.
Don't take my comment as offense, just try and think from the perspective of the developer.
I had no idea what exactly Mehdoh was, just had a look and I see that it sells for 99cents.
While I understand everyones feelings of being shafted for 99cents, some perspective is called for.
You can hire a movie for 99cents that's one and a half hours of use, you can buy half a cup of coffee for 99cents.
You might buy 2 apples for 99cents, you get them home and they have brown spots when you cut them, do you take them back and ask for a refund?
You walk past a busker and throw a whole buck into his hat.
The developer may have personal reasons for stopping further development or he may have found that by the time he gives 30% to Microsoft, pays taxes and overheads associated with developing this goldmine of income that he's actually paying his customers to use his app, I don't know.
What I do know is people lose perspective when it comes to mobile phone apps and expect ongoing development and support for 99cents, some expect this for nothing, that's right zero, free, yet don't think twice about paying $2.00 for a cup of coffee, I just don't get it.
Seriously? I just payed for this thing...
Oh well, I saved a copy of the XAP to my hard disk and backed it up on my SkyDrive. That should allow me to reinstall the app any time I want...
1.9 is online, but it hangs everytime I access the live tile settings. Great.
Now I have to look for 1.8 somewhere...
Same issue here. 1.9 crashes every time I scroll through settings.
The biggist issue with pulling an app from the Marketplace is that app can never be reinstalled. Unlike iTunes where apps live on your personal computer, WP7 apps only exist on the phone and the Marketplace (not within Zune). Reset your phone and you will lose all of your "unsupported" applications.
It was slow and jerky when i tried it.
This is just great... I paid for this app a week ago and now is closing. Fisrt Metrotube and now this. These so called developers don't know they hurt the marketplace.
Why? for now, I will only rely on official apps only. Even though is $0.99, is money i worked for. Others will do the same. This will discourage other devs. Is a mess.
I can still see the app up for sale in the Marketplace. Why doesn't he makes it free? For price changing, he doesnt need to wait for Microsoft approval, does he?
Not buying another "indie" developer app, no matter how cool is it.
I truly hope you and others do not loose all faith in us "indie" developers after this, and see that this was one indie developer, not indie developers in general.
There are many of us who put all their energy into this, and who would go to the extreme to avoid putting their customers in such a situation.
It was "just a dollar" as someone mentioned here, so I guess it is not the end of the world for those who bought the app, but I still would never do such a thing, since I would just feel all wrong about it.
Then I would try to minimize impace as far as possible. By either making the code available for free, so others could continue the effort.
Or by just putting a clear description-text in Marketplace (and as a startup message in the app) that "this app is unfortunately not being further developed. We will make sure it is available in Marketplace until month X in 2013, after that it will disappear, use on own risk", and paid the $99 developer fee for at least another year after that. Then existing customers would know that they did not loose the app no matter what the next year+
I would do this just because it would feel "totally wrong" to do othervise.
But the developer can, as also mentioned above, have serious and profound reasons for "pulling out quickly", but I can not see that it would stop the developer from just putting a "upper case disclaimer" in the description in Marketplace, and just take the cost of pay the developer fee for a year after making this announcement.
Microsoft needs to step up here
But, when all that is said, I feel Microsoft really should step up, and do something about this in more general terms.
Microsoft should have made it so that when an developer "quits", all the apps from the developers are made invisible only for new customers, but that people who have bought the apps should see them "forever". ..or at least until they stop working due to "new versions of Windows Phone OS itself" and so forth.
I can not see any reason for Microsoft not doing so in the future. Just makes sense...it hurts Microsoft when things like this happen.
Some of the best apps are from "indie" developers, since "indies" often are people with an enormous passion for what they do, large companies often do not really care about the customers, other than getting as much money as possible for as little as possible work. But large companies are as varied as indie developers.
So don't loose faith in all of us "indie" developers! :)
your hangman app is very cool indeed and i'm waiting for you to release the shopping list app.
thanks for step up on this one and show the public not all indie devs are equal.
I am afraid the shopping app has been put further down on my priority list...oh it will come...but more like "sometime in the future" than "soon".
I have some apps I will prioritize before it, among other the multi-player-mania-uber-followup to Trine's Hangman ;)
I get it, stuff happens. But the developer set expectations that he was continuing support. You don't just turn around and pull an effective immediately. Even so, and even after just paying as a thanks for reviving the app, I'm going to chalk this up to his renewal was due and he couldn't afford the $99. Microsoft definitely needs to address this kind of situation, before it has a chance to become a blight on Windows Phone.
Ok, so I wonder how many unsupported-abandoned apps there are in the iphone and android marketplaces?
Mehdoh was the only Twitter app I that I didn't hate. It felt clean and was quick. If there was a way for me to download later, I wouldn't mind them not continuing development. It is the simple fact that it's gone forever if I get a new device or have to hard reset.
Well, you can download the XAP and side-load it... hardly ideal, but it's what I'll be doing.
Please explain how. I am also a paid user and it is the best twitter app imo.
They should open source the app so the community can fix the failures and run with them. I almost feel embarrassed how immature these app withdrawals are, especially for paid for apps.
Don't care about the .99, but the app was really good. The link view was fantastic. Hopefully the dev will "give" his code to someone else so they can continue the project. Guess Homebrew has an advantage as the XAPs can live forever.
Exactly my feelings. I can only laugh about people who loose their faith in indie apps because of this oO Does someone remember this XBL strategy game which got pulled...?!
well, dont know (and honestly dont give a damn) about your opinion but in my case I paid for metrotube and this app in less than a month time and both are now closing.
If this is the Windows Phone "trend", then I rather use official crappy apps than paying for an app that I will use it as long as I dont hard reset my phone.
I dont know how to extract a XAP file and most of the public dont know either. This is a good example why Microsoft should do something about it. Otherwise, there is incentives on keep my self using this platform, I rather go back to iOS or get an Android.
A middle finger to its users? Really? The fact the app was updated and attempts to fix bugs shows that it was anything but a middle finger. A middle finger to users would be releasing a buggy app and not bothering to fix it, taking the money and running. I think it's very poor taste to accuse the developer before attempting to find out the cause of the discontinuation. Research before sensationalism would be nice.
Does it occur to anyone that the app isn't making enough money on the app to justify the (lengthy) developement time, and updates that have been done? Microsoft remove the app if the developer doesn't renew anyway, and if the app isn't making more money that it costs to update and develop, are people suggesting that the creator should just "take one for the team" and fund this out of his own pocket?
Perspective is needed. Mehdoh's developer isn't to blame for the way Microsoft manage their systems. Developers are people too, and the flaming is appalling and unjustified. Lambasting someone is not the way to change their mind, and pulling support for someone who created an app you really like is cutting your nose off to spite your face.
Sorry, I kind of disagree here. As @Ronny Gydar states above, this could have and should have been handled better. Here's the thing: no one begrudges a dev for having personal problem, professional problems, problems with the platform...whichever, leading towards them discontinuing the app. If you're honest with your customers and lay it out, they'll understand. But a heads up to customers and seeking alternative routes for continued development (open sourcing it, giving it to another dev, selling it to another dev) in order to ensure (1) contiunued support and (2) minimize disruption would have been a much better avenue then simply closing shop. It's not that Chris is stopping develoment, it's the sudden end to it and no avenue for users to continue with the app, even though there are alternatives. We've already had numerous devs ask to take it over...it's not that hard to set that up.
"Does it occur to anyone that the app isn't making enough money on the app to justify the (lengthy) developement time, and updates that have been done?"Not sure why you are assuming it and writing a whole defense based on this assumption. Furthermore, if that were the case it fails to explain (a) why other Twitter devs are chugging right along (b) new devs are constantly offering new Twitter apps (c) other devs have not had this problem.
very good answer Daniel
For whats its worth, Chris has said on twitter before that he really doensnt want the money made from the app, was looking for a way to donate it.
"Not sure why you are assuming it and writing a whole defense based on this assumption. Furthermore, if that were the case it fails to explain (a) why other Twitter devs are chugging right along"
Probably because they still have the unrealistic expectation of actually making real money from mobile phone apps, do the maths and you soon find how unrealistic this expectation is.
" (b) new devs are constantly offering new Twitter apps (c) other devs have not had this problem."
See my answer above, the main problem with this market is 99% of these apps offer the same or very similar functionality.
It's very difficult to differentiate and gain a reasonable self sustaining income so that continued development and support can be provided.
I'm not talking about hobby developers or starry-eyed newcomers, I'm talking about professional developers that make a living from developing software.
Most developers can make more in one day in professional software development than they can make in one month selling mobile phone apps, so the economics just don't stack up.
The exceptions are exactly that the top 2 that have been able to differentiate; the other 97 eventually come to this conclusion that it's not worth wasting their time.
If I'm wrong please post your app sales stats that prove it.
You are absolutely right that there is little to to be earned from mobile development for 98% of everyone trying. If you want to earn a living, you are much better of working at Mc Donalds or delivering the newspaper.
Seriously, it just is. You will get a "safe" income, and probably earn 10 times as much for each hour you work.
Mobile development right now is a bit like becomming an actor or musican...yeah some people earn a shitload of money...but most can't even make a living of it. But you will typically only hear about the actor-millionaires in the press, and not about the thousands who work hard and have great talent...but still don't make enough to live of it.
Still, my plan is to live of WP7 development in the long run, and I am fairly confident I will be able to do so. But...I also understand that, I probably would be much better of finacially by just working harder in just about any "real job". But sometimes its not all about the money though :)
So I belive it is not fair to be too harsh on the developer here, it isn't easy to earn money on mobile development.
BUT, I still belive one should always try to "do the right thing", and in the worst cast, lose another 99 USD to give paying customers a one year warning. And then look just anounce that the code is available for any one who is serious about picking up the project.
But seriously, the one who really need to act swiftly on this, is Microsoft. Since when the press starts spinning on this, it can very quickly get a bit too much attention...and what WP7 and Microsoft do not need right now, is getting a bunch of negative articles in the press. Not now...we are just starting to getting a positive spin on WP7 the last month or two with Nokia and Mango.
So I really hope Microsoft grabs this one by the horns, and make a press statement stating that all apps bought will be available "for life" regardsless of what the developer ends up doing.
With one exception of course...apps that in aftersight appear to be mallware and so forth.
So let's all take a deep breath, and calm down...its a little sad that some people "lose a buck", and even more sad that happy customers who finally found "their perfect Twitter app" loses it, and its is sad that a developer have/chose to abort so abrupt, and he probably could have handled it more gracefully (and maybe he will after thinking about it). ...but leave the developer some slack, he has not done anything "criminal" here, by far, and certainly do not deserve to much anger and harsh words.
I am more concerned with how this can stigmate WP7 as a platform, and also "indie developers" for that matter. But I am really most concerned for the bad press WP7 can get from this if not being handled promptly by Microsoft.
If Microsoft grabs it quickly, it actually can become a positive spin, since then the news articles will be "Heay, look at Microsoft, they care about their customers, and they act immediately when needed".
Just my 2 cents as they say :)
The developer of the Mehdoh-app has actually been in dialog with @BrandonWatson (the one at Microsoft handling contact with WP7-developers) on Twitter today, about just this issue.
So the developer clearly wants to avoid the end-customers loosing their apps. So again, give the poor developer a little slack here :)
I am sure he or Microsoft, or both will take care of this.
Happy New Year to everyone btw
Best Twitter client on WP7 by miles. Only discovered it last week! Sad it's going, hopefully the developer changes his mind. Glad I didn't pay now though and read this as I would have soon.
I think the biggest problem here is similar to the metrotube issue. Devs are losing faith in the Windows Phone platform. Whether it comes down to balancing their books or being fed up with access to certain APIs (like in metro tube's case), it gives me a sinking feeling. I couldn't say if a similar thing happens on iOS or Android because I don't read their forums :P but Microsoft has pumped a lot of money into getting amateur devs (but not so much big guys) interested in app development. On the individual level, Microsoft set up shop at my college offering giveaways like a free Kinect, a free Windows Phone, and PC hardware to people who provided app deep links. I think that Microsoft needs to figure out a way to maintain a healthy relationship with their professional developers. Not that they should be tempted with gamer paraphernalia, but Microsoft should show more of an interest in them somehow. Suffice to say, a decreasing interest in keeping with the platform is the last thing we need right now, albeit the marketplace seems to be growing steadily. And now for 10 unhappy replies.
Its back cuh
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