My take on the CoverSutra controversy

It’s been two days since the Mac App Store has been released and there has been a lot of confusion and a lot of anger. CoverSutra, an app to control iTunes and displaying CoverArt on the Desktop, in particular has caused controversy and is the first little scandal of Apple’s new software repository.

The application in question is developed by Sophie Teutschler, best known for her Apple Design award-winning iOS app Articles, an independent software developer from Germany. In spite of promising free updates until the next major release (3.0) of CoverSutra, she released version 2.5 exclusively on the Mac App Store. This caused a lot of angry comments, disappointed customers and supporters insulting each other, criticising or defending Teutschler’s decision.

I’ve been a CoverSutra user for a while, and I did buy the MAS-version of the app, the moment I saw it. I wanted to support the developer of a great piece of software. However, I did not know that there wouldn’t be any more updates for users that did not buy the new version. To be honest, I was quite surprised as the promise to provide existing customers with free updates is featured very prominently in the app itself, as well as being displayed upon registration. This isn’t only a promise, it’s an agreement the developer entered with her customers. They paid for the software, they fulfilled their part. She agreed to offer updates which she, according to her own words, simply forgot. Everyone makes mistakes, but it’s astonishing to me that she does not seem to acknowledge to making one but instead offered a list of pretty weak excuses. Contrary to the opinion expressed by a lot of supporters of disappointed users being cheapskates that just want to get everything for free, I really don’t believe it is about money. CoverSutra costs $5 on the App Store, and while it’s certainly worth every penny it does not change the fact that she did not honour her part of the deal. Imagine you had ordered a pizza and paid for it, only to find out that the delivery guy ate a piece, and then, when you called the place, they told you they had decided to give a piece to the delivery guy because he had forgotten to have lunch and got hungry. You’d be pissed. I certainly would.

I understand that independent developers don’t have the easiest job in the world, and having to deal with customers, especially an angry mob, isn’t easy either but one shouldn’t make promises one can’t keep. Fine, she forgot, but when then she was reminded, taking a step back and honouring her part of the bargain would have been the right thing to do in my opinion.

Here are Teutschler’s two blog posts, followed by a list of posts I read about the controversy.

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And here’s what Pieter Omvlee, developer of apps like FontCase, Sketch and DrawIt wrote to me on twitter:

pieteromvlee
@mrigns It’s true that I don’t understand why she can’t keep pushing Sparkle updates. Takes no effort. But some people should get a life. :P
08.01.11 19:38

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