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Thread started by Dave Winer on Thursday, September 20, 2012.

Maps, Tweetie and dBASE

Two examples of potentially disastrous "upgrades" --

Maps on iOS

In iOS 6 the maps functionality took a major step backwards. Just shipped yesterday so we're still figuring out how bad it is. Maps are critical functionality for mobile users. Why it happened, no one knows. Could be that Google pulled out on their own. They might not come back, hoping that maps will be a feature advantage for their Android phones. Remember these companies have been suing each other over patent issues.

Tweetie

I don't use Twitter clients, but I understand that their iPad app, acquired from Loren Brichter, was an exemplary iPad app. The new app apparently pales in comparison. Again, we don't know how this came to be. But it may be indicative of a similar kind of problem for Twitter.

Ashton-Tate's dBASE

Ashton-Tate is prior art for self-destructive upgrades. They had a theory that you could ship a new version of a product, in this case dBASE, without anyone in the company actually using it. It didn't work. They ended up selling out to a much smaller competitor after this upgrade ruined the company.

So the stakes can be very high.

Personal note

I learned this one in 1984, when we shipped ThinkTank for the Mac.

People thought we had removed features from ThinkTank, because they had used the Apple II or IBM PC versions. In fact this was a completely new codebase, and we shipped early because there was a lack of software on the Mac. So it didn't have a lot of the features of the earlier product. No matter, the users were outraged by this. They thought they had bought a better computer, and here was the product with less features. We totally didn't anticipate this, because from our point of view it was a major accomplishment to get something out at all.

As the story goes, the customer is always right. We quickly came out with a new release that added all the features that were in the other versions.

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