"In my career, the only things I’ve done that I’m prouder of are writing Daring Fireball and the creation of Markdown."
Isn't that an incredible thing to be able to write?
Amazing stuff, and great post explaining reasons and refreshing to read someone admitting that they would've done things differently.
I echo @flyosity's concern: if Gruber, et al. cannot make a living with an iOS app, what hope has anyone else?
The unsung Luck factor. Being at the right place at the right time.
Well, I mean, Gruber said it himself that maybe a note taking app wasn't the most profitable endeavor.
Exactly — seems like only an afterthought that the intended market was never one in which there wasn't only a lack of noise, but lack of need for noise. Average users aren't going to buy a Notes app for $5.
This is why I develop for the web. I started out developing for the web with Perl, best part of a decade ago now. I had the opportunity a couple of years ago to get into mobile app development, but I turned it down.
- The web will always be there.
- Users like that the web doesn't need to read their contacts and emails in order to be usable.
- Service Worker API makes web apps a real threat to mobile apps
- The web is cheap and open, no app stores.
Google depends on the web for its revenue. It wants to kill walled gardens and app stores because that keeps the user away from Google search and ads.
Google unsurprisingly invests a lot in developing the most cutting-edge browser with the latest (often not even standardised) features. Safari unsurprisingly lags behind on particular features, like Service Worker, Shadow DOM & Web Components -- why? Because these particular concepts combine to create a viable app platform that will rival native apps while removing the app store from the equation.
Google will win this war, and I would not recommend anyone to get into native development now. Google's biggest challenge will be to keep people on the web and out of walled gardens that social media provide, i.e. Facebook. AMP is a trump card for Instant Articles, but Facebook ads are a big threat, especially if they were to generally prove to be more effective for converting visitors to sales. Then Google will rely more heavily on search.
The future is in the streamable web, not the "install (91MB required) This app wants to read your emails, text your pet, control your Twitter and Instagram logins and watch you every minute" experience of the native app, which was solely justified by the frame rate, now achievable in modern browsers with CSS3 transforms, transitions + requestAnimationFrame/Service Worker/virtual DOMs.
A "war" between native apps and web apps is a false dichotomy.
It's also a straw man to say that native apps need more access to your personal information when almost every web app gets exactly the same access by having you log in via Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc. There are many reasons to prefer web apps over native apps, but "doesn't need to read their contacts, and emails" is not one of them.
And far from Google working to kill native apps: they're even working on making them more accessible by letting you stream them to your phone!
I think it's more complex than that… The only thing Gruber and the other team members have as an advantage over other developers is a larger audience, or essentially free advertising with a faith in the quality of development; but that can't make up for the fact that none of the Q Branch team were working on the app full time over the last three years. I think this led to the biggest problem, that development was very slow, from a users perspective. I've had the app on my home screen (for three years) with the hope that it would replace Simplenote for me, but the fact is that until there was both a Mac and iOS app with seamless sync it could not stand a chance.
As a comparison, Shiny Frog is also a three man team, but they are launching Bear notes/writing app (which looks beautiful) with more functionality, and with iPhone, iPad, and Mac simultaneously. They're monetizing with pay for sync which Gruber did say is probably the best way to do for a productivity app of this nature.
I think the stronger point to take away from this, is that most productivity apps don't have a hope of making it unless they allow seamless transition from computer to phone. Even if they launched with a Mac app first like Gruber posited, I don't think they could have been truly successful until they had iOS and Mac available.
But there are amazing alternatives though . . . Like my personal favourite: Letterspace: https://programmerbird.com/letterspace/ – I don’t understand how this little thing is not all the rage :-).
The main problem with these apps is you're totally handcuffed all the time. You cannot export, migrate anything to anywhere since everything is thought to be remained in the same spot.
That's why I take notes in Markdown and I upload them to Dropbox using IA/Writer as my favorite editor for this case.
I will never lose my notes, even if any of those disappear.