On Drafts, Simperium & iCloud

When reading about Drafts by Agile Tortoise, people like to call it the "Launch Center for words", a "Field Notes for iOS", or simply put "a utility that allows you to save short snippets of text".

People love it and use it in many different ways. From using it as a Birdhouse replacement for saving Tweets, creating Events, writing Messages and Mails, saving notes to Evernote (a lot faster than with the app itself), to create entries in OmniFocus or hacking around with the "append" to Dropbox functionality like Federico Viticci over at MacStories showed recently, or really just using it as a scratchpad for random thoughts, there's most certainly a way you could also integrate this app in your workflow.

But this shouldn't be a review of the app itself as there are many extraordinary and in-depth reviews out there. Starting with the reviews on Agile Tortoise's site or by reading the sites I already linked to above, there are others who know what they're doing and I leave it to them to show you the strengths of Drafts.

While I've been using the app when it was iPhone only, I really got curious about some things when Greg Pierce from Agile Tortoise wrote about Drafts 2.0 and Drafts for iPad 1.0.
First I wanted to know if the app was Universal and if not what the price would be. The iPad version is priced at $2.99 and you can get the iPhone version for $1.99. I was kind of wondering that I didn't really see any people complaining about it, as usually there are complaints about developers wanting to get paid twice.
I see several reasons why the app isn't Universal. One of them is explained by Pierce: "Having separate apps makes it easier to maintain price points friendly to those who only want to use it on one of the devices." Another reason in my opinion is an impeccable idea (if of course, it is the way I see it).
Drafts supports lightning fast syncing using a service called Simperium. For those who haven't heard about this service yet, that's what Simplenote is using to keep your notes everywhere. While there is a Basic Plan that developers can use for free, as soon as the number of active users per month exceeds 2,500, Simperium will cost $99 per month. And that's only the pricing for up to 5,000 users. Now having 2,500 active users per month might seem a lot, but when you're developing something to make money with it, you want to reach a lot of people.
So that's where I think that the pricing for the iPad app comes in. After giving Apple its share, there's money left to pay the work you already did and there could eventually be some money to cover the costs for using a service such as Simperium. I like to support services that work and I also also agree to paying a little more to a developer who does a good job. When thinking that the developers could potentially also pay for a service on a monthly basis, the price for Drafts isn't justified at all. What if more people than planned are getting these apps and a lot of them use it at least once a month. After having bought the app once, you don't pay for it another time. If the app is successful for a long period of time, the developers wouldn't be able to pay for a service on a monthly basis without losing money.
Of course I have no idea on how many people downloaded the app, how much people use it at least once a month or anything related to those kinds of things.

But why not use iCloud? Pierce linked to this article by Jon Mitchell on ReadWriteWeb focusing on this paragraph:

“It just works,” the Apple marketing slogan goes. But for the syncing features in iCloud, that promise has proven too good to be true. On Thursday, the first iOS app launched that eschews iCloud in favor of a new third-party service called Simperium. If you use an iPhone or iPad, you’ll want to know why.

And he's not the only one complaining about having problems with making Apple's iCloud "just work".
Martin Hering of Vemedio also discussed the iCloud implementation and syncing problem with his Podcatcher apps Instacast and Instacast HD.
iCloud works well with documents and "simple" files, but seems to be having problems when doing more than just overwriting or changing a file. Hering also mentions:

On top iCloud seems to have a problem with connection reliability. It is very possible that data can not be downloaded or that the file transfer process hangs.

All this does not make it a joy to develop for iCloud. And that’s why so many 3rd party developers have problems with their iCloud integration.

While also thinking about syncing via Dropbox he considers using Simperium as well. He's suggesting to offer a subscription fee though, which could be a problem as people were really upset when Instacast got updated to 2.0 and integrated some "Pro" features available via $0.99 IAP while the app is priced at $1.99 itself.
On a follow-up post about the Instacast Sync he says that "$5 a year for such a great service is affordable". We'll see how people will react to that once it's about time to pay the first subscription fee.

Summing up, I think that all of the apps and services mentioned above are great and if you haven't checked them out yet, you definitely should do that now. Support people for doing a great job. Help them do more and improve what they're working on.

If you have some thoughts you want to share or completely disagree with me, please let me know.
I'm writing about my thoughts and the way I see things. This doesn't mean that other have to share my opinion. And as I said before, I can't say what the developers or others are thinking, I might even be completely wrong, but one thing is for sure, if you're still reading this, I made you think about it as well.