inessential by Brent Simmons

The Risk of Products Failing

On Twitter, Martin Johnson asks:

How long until a crit mass of users get burnt one to many times and simply avoid indie products altogether?

I don’t think people outside our industry use the word “indie” to describe any software developers. They may think “probably small” or “never heard of them” or “not Apple or Google or Microsoft” when they think at all about a company.

I don’t think that product failure is a problem specific to indies. VC-backed apps and companies fail all the time. Large services fail too — you can’t dial in to America OnLine any more. Google has turned off so many services that there’s a Google Graveyard. Apple has retired lots of things too.

The beauty of indie software is that many apps don’t make financial sense for a larger company, but they make great sense for a small shop. So you can have sustainable apps such as Capo, Acorn, and MarsEdit that you wouldn’t get without indies. And you can also be sure those apps won’t get shut down on some manager’s whim.

Going with indie software can be safer than the alternatives.

But relying on any software or service, from anybody, is a risk. Always. The best way to minimize that risk is to pay money, because it’s money that keeps things going.