May 15, 2004

KISS Principle Continues to Fail Movable Type Crew

YESTERDAY THE "COMPANY" BEHIND MOVABLE TYPE removed all the radiation inhibitors in their single product with one single announcement of a fantastically complicated and extortionate pricing scheme. The result: a meltdown of their core ... market that is. Now, in the tradition of Three Mile Island, they are attempting to put the genie back in the bottle by -- making things even more complicated in the minds of their core customers: Six Log: Movable Type 3.0 Developer Edition

The question of what a "weblog" is is somewhat muddy, but the basic answer to the first question is that, if you're using multiple "Weblogs" in Movable Type in order to build 1 site, that only counts as 1 weblog towards the license limits.

In our licenses, we now address this with this language: "Weblog" means a single Web site viewable at a single URL (Uniform Resource Locator), consisting of one or more weblogs as generated by the Software via the "Create New Weblog" function of the Software.

To be clear, sub-weblogs that make up weblog sites shouldn't be counted toward your weblog total."

Well, that's clear enough, but really when wasn't it? The real muddy question all this raises is "Who do these people think they are?" There are a lot more "explanations" and sidestepping going on in this posting, but really, the damage has been done.

SixApart, probably steeping in a hot cup of "How Cool Are We," forgot the first principle of dealing with a userbase and indeed a customer base of any kind: KISS, or "Keep It Simple, Stupid." Instead of thinking through their business long term -- that's the thing called 'Let's keep these customers who are actually bringing us new customers, who are in fact the only thing that is bringing us new customers, happy, satisfied and unconfused" -- they looked at the Sum Cell on their spreadsheets that said "X thousand users @ X hundreds of dollars = Bonanza" and completely lost their minds. To do that they announced an utterly unrealistic pricing scheme in a complicated structure that only said to most people "You will now pay and you will pay a lot. No matter what you pay, you will pay more in the future once you are really locked into the app." This may have worked for Oracle but Six Apart ain't Oracle. They have zero market lock and now they have less market share. The rot will continue.

The "clarification" released today will not stop the rot. Once you have alerted your core base to the fact that they will need alternatives to keep from being gouged, it comes as no surprise they will start the search for alternatives. Many will find them and competitors in the field will not be slow to welcome them.

Case in point: The Expression Engine is now offering free apps to the first 1,000 people that affirm they are moving from "another application." Their inbox runneth over.

The last few days of 'communication' coming out of Six Apart to alienate its user and developer base is not an isolated incident. The company has always been aloof and uncommunicative. This is their way. Regardless of the "clairifications" all the user base can now be sure of is that in some way, on some day, Six Apart will screw them. It didn't completley work this time, but there's alway tomorrow.

There are two good things to come out of this. The first is that elegant and workmanlike substitutes such as Dean Allen's elegant Textpattern and the solid group hack WordPress will get the attention they deserve. The second is that those VC's foolish enough to back an app whose founders are hopeless sunk in the "aren't we cool" culture, will probably lose a lot of money.

Posted by Vanderleun at May 15, 2004 11:38 AM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

I have to agree with you totally. First of all MT wasn't significantly better than its other competitors. It was better and it was preferred because of being "cool", but it wasn't way way better. So what happened is that by the community support and being "free enough", it developed and developed and came to this point. But still, we are talking about blogging, you don't even need a software like MT to blog, you can blog without such software. But more importantly, you can blog with equally well software like WordPRess and so on.

Now, what happened is that, I think SixApart overestimated its coolness effect on people. Now it is not cool to pay 600$ for something you do as a hobby. It is not even cool to pay 100$ or 70$ for this software. After this incident and still, MT is not cool anymore. People who think they are being cool will realize that sooner or later MT will stop to exist. First of all, it directly competes with their Typepad service.

Maybe they just want to stop developing MT and focus on Typepad.

Posted by: Jim at May 15, 2004 4:10 PM