Removing Unmaintained Apps from the App Store

Last week I removed two apps from sale:

  • Memed (for easy image captions)
  • PublicSpeakr[1] (for building the perfect speech)

Doing so has reduced the number of apps I have in the App Store from 4 down to 2, leaving me with:

  • Nudgem (for sending reminders)
  • Alter (for todo lists)

Why did I remove the other apps? There are two parts to this:

  1. I have no intention to maintain or develop them further.
  2. I don’t want unmaintained apps in the App Store.

No intention for further development.

Memed is an app that I’ve had very little involvement with. It was a project that scratched an itch for James[2] – he developed Memed solo while I worked on other things.

From a development point of view, as a small app, it stands up well. Polished, up to date as far as iOS 7/8 aesthetics go, and in a good state. But it’s not my codebase and it’s not my thing. Add the fact that it’s a free app, has no monetisation at all, and is getting next to zero downloads – it’s not worth spending time on.

PublicSpeakr, this was a harder decision. Unlike Memed, PublicSpeakr is paid-upfront with a semi-premimum price tag ($6.99). Although the number of downloads are very low[3] – this app has shown signs of promise. After the initial launch PublicSpeakr was featured in New & Noteworthy. Since then, despite falling off a cliff, the app has received positive feedback from its small number of users.

I just don’t want to develop it. Unlike the two remaining apps (Nudgem and Alter) I don’t use PublicSpeakr. Being a user of the app you’re developing isn’t a requirement, however, when you’re working alone in limited spare time, from a current state of essentially zero downloads, a domain with little personal relevance isn’t particularly motivating[4].

What’s more, the type of activities I’d have to pursue to be successful in this niche (website, meeting/talking to users, getting involved with things like Toastmasters…) don’t fit well with my hobbyist constraints.

Not wanting unmaintained apps in the store.

Here’s why I don’t want an unmaintained app in the App Store:

  • It goes again my values. I value good software and I try to make good software. Leaving apps around that I have no intention of improving feels wrong.
  • It’s not good for the customer. Allowing someone to invest time and/or money into software that’s been written off seems unfair; I like the software that I use to be kept up to date, bugs fixed and improvements made.
  • It looks bad. Out of date apps don’t reflect well on the other things I’m developing. They can suggest poor decisions, habits and practices. They make the overall portfolio look disjointed and messy.

There’s a fine line with the first two of the points above: old software that hasn’t been updated for a while can still provide a lot of value, both to the user and the developer.

In my case I’m talking about projects that have started, not really gone anywhere, and now the resulting apps are just hanging around. Ultimately, they’re a distraction.

What of the remaining apps?

So, I’ve cut the number of apps in half, why do I want to work on the two remaining?

I have a plan, of sorts, but I’ll write about that in a future post.

  1. PublicSpeakr was originally named Wafflr.

  2. For a while, James and I developed these iOS apps together. That’s come to an end now – nothing sinister, but I’m now working on these projects alone.

  3. PublicSpeakr downloads are generally in the region of 1 to 2 per month.

  4. PublicSpeakr and motivation. I do think this app (and/or development in this niche) could have a future, it just doesn’t fit with my current situation.