Dear Pixelmator Team,
I don’t do this often, but in this special case, I’m personally frustrated with your performance and since I’m obviously not the only one, this topic deserves some public discussion.
I’ll recap a bit of your story – maybe it helps to remind you of what you guys created…
In September 2007 there was a big buzz about an upcoming image editor for the Mac platform. It was called Pixelmator and thanks to a great user interface and a very promising feature list, Pixelmator was quickly hyped as the inexpensive challenger of the venerable Adobe Photoshop – at least a welcome replacement to Adobe Elements. Pixelmator shipped for relatively small $59 and was announced on September 25th, 2007 with an official announcement on the companys blog (link).
In the following months you guys took a trip around the world to promote Pixelmator, made some very cool improvements to the software and came up with several updates. The press featured your efforts in a broad manner and everybody who already used Pixelmator had the belief in doing the right thing; going with the ‘good ones’. It had been a long time, that a new software had such a positive rush.
With the upcoming “Draftsman” release in the bag, you inducted us in to the Flight Plan for Summer, announcing your work on the “Tempo” release (1.3) which came out of beta one year ago in November. Three months later, there was the next upgrade to version 1.4. Wow – that was a great pace and everyone was impressed with the thrusting approach you were driving Pixelmator to the next level.
Finally you released version 1.5 on September 8th 2009; just some weeks before the release of Snow Leopard – touting Pixelmator would support Apple’s newest operating system.
The 8th of September is the last date, where we did hear anything about the software. No feedback. No bug fixes. No updates on anything. And this is, what really bugs me and I hope to find (or get) an answer to.
The last status you sent on the official twitter account (@pixelmator) is – as of this writing – regarding the release of version 1.5, dated September 8th 2009.
The last entry on your company blog is also dated September 8th – also regarding the release.
The are indeed phases were you didn’t update the blog for some weeks, sometimes for months. But at least the updates on Twitter came in more frequently and so your customers could follow the progress on the software.
Yes – customers. I’m using this term now for the first time, although this is the main reason, I’m writing all of this. You’ve got customers. And when we believe the numbers you stated in last year’s October, you’ve got a lot of customers; somewhere between 50 and 100 thousands at that time, which should have spilled a good 2 million+ Dollars to your bank accounts. And I assume, these numbers have gotten even more impressive in the following months, since you were able to get into Apple’s online and retail stores by mid of 2009. While stating your contentment this was another economical milestone for the young company that once went out to turn the imaging software landscape upside down.
May I take a guess? It was enough cash. Enough cash, that you drew from well over two years of pushing the software and the additional distribution via Apple’s sales channels. Though you told us back in October 2008, that making money is not the first aim I would not blame you on making money – in the end that’s always the reason. If money wouldn’t be a reason to you, you wouldn’t have put the $59 price tag on Pixelmator.
While the numbers are great, that is not the main passion and motivation engine for us. Actually, much more exciting thing for us is that your feedback and reviews are becoming better and better with every single update of Pixelmator. I know that because, even though I am still very busy working on Pixelmator stuff, I read your e-mail, blogs, comments, and other websites that talk about Pixelmator every single evening before going to sleep.
from the Pixelmator blog
One year later, you obviously lost this passion and I doubt, that you guys still read the blog posts and e-mails we – your customers – send to you.
All what’s left is a company that effectively doesn’t exist anymore.
If you quit, because there’s enough cash on the bank, then this would be o.k. What’s not o.k. is not to tell anybody.
If you quit, because you lost the source code and have not backup, then this would be o.k. What’s not o.k. is not to tell anybody.
If you quit, because you just need a break from working two years without interruption, then this would be o.k. What’s not o.k. is not to tell anybody.
If you quit, because you got an even bigger check from Adobe to just close and no longer endanger Elements or Photoshop, then this would be o.k. What’s not o.k. is not to tell anybody.
As you wrote, there are 100.000+ people who where happily using your software (and paying for it!) which are now lost in the dark. (You can tell a different story, if the legal stuff doesn’t allow to tell the truth…). No matter what – but tell us something.
Not really true. Using the contact form, also doesn’t help. No reply.
You can’t be fine with all your customers complaining in the forum about bugs. They are effectively begging for just a minor update – to get the full Snow Leopard support, you promised in September. None of them had any luck. No reactions from your side whatsoever. In the forum, there is an extra space dedicated to questions to the guys behind the product; the “Pixelmator Team Chat”. It’s full of “please help!”, “we need a bug-fix release” postings. The absolutely absurd thing about the “team chat” is, that there’s unfortunately no team to chat with.
Three days ago, I asked a simple question: “Are you still there?” No one who has any concern about his customers wouldn’t leave such a question unanswered. Even the support guy (Sebastian) who showed the most activity of all of you since the last release didn’t feel to jump in and calm the situation. Other than that is my theory about Sebastian different anyway: while the core team is relaxing in the sun since September, no one told him that the show is over…
Besides a poor customer service and a doomed product, one other thing should come to your mind. The effect on the independent software scene. Especially for the Mac there are a lot of great applications and the community values this with high respect and a – compared to the Windows ecosystem – very high readiness to pay for good software (who wants to pay for Windows crap anyway…). You profited from this community; otherwise you wouldn’t have made $60.000 on the first day. Mac customers are loyal and kind-hearted, but if they get messed around, they’ll change. That would mean, that other developers will find a more difficult situation, if the small development team (like you!) become unreliable.
So, either this whole mess is just a terrible awkward move by you and you guys sit in the basement since September to find solutions for all the bugs and issues your customers have, or you just don’t care anymore. Either way, if your ‘communication habits’ stay as they were in the past, don’t be surprised, if we also don’t care any longer.
Best regards, Steve.