Math doesn’t change

“Math doesn’t change,” the customer tells me as to why he doesn’t want to pay a subscription.

Yes, he is absolutely right. Math does not change. But iOS does. Constantly. And in order to keep that math working the app that that math works within does have to change. Otherwise it stops working.

We developed PowerOne Finance and PowerOne Scientific at the dawn of the iOS App Store. (Actually PowerOne pre-dates the App Store by more than a decade but that’s a different story.) At one point versions of PowerOne occupied 3 spots in the top 1000 apps with one of them occupying a slot in the top 100. As the App Store gold rush cooled, we couldn’t justify the investment in maintaining this old code and a one-time price so we started working on a new version we hoped would replace it and hoped we had a substantial number of customers who would move to the new version, propelling us up the charts, and driving enough subscribers to keep working full-time.

A few years ago we released PowerOne 6 and gave a great deal to existing customers to move over and, well, they didn’t.

At this point, the writing was on the wall. After 23 years of working on Infinity Softworks full-time, it was time to work for someone else. PowerOne was making enough money to keep it going, barely, but not enough to work even part-time.

Now I do a handful of releases per year, maintain the web servers, and am happy to work with a small group of customers who really enjoy the app. PowerOne Finance and PowerOne Scientific have continued to work all these years for anyone that already had a copy.

This week, however, Apple released iOS 14.5. For me, PowerOne Finance and PowerOne Scientific still worked. For some customers, though, it does not. A few customers reached out to me and asked what to do. I suggested they download PowerOne 6, explaining it was free with advanced features available for a subscription price of $19.99 per year.

Very politely, the customer responded that they don’t see a reason to pay a subscription because the “math doesn’t change.”

And he’s right. The math doesn’t change. But the platform on which the software runs is constantly changing. The server to sync templates across devices costs time and money. The earth in which that unchanging math lies is constantly shifting.

I’m really not upset. I’m sad but not upset.

I’m sad because the mobile landscape became hostile to running a small company with a niche product. I’m sad that I couldn’t figure out how to keep Infinity Softworks going as a full-time job after 23 years. I’m sad because I thought I had more customers that cared deeply for the product and would stick with me. And even that sadness isn’t the same as it was two years ago when I decided it was time to get a job. Then I was devastated. Now it is more of a lament.

While I’m not upset with this customer, it does strike me as ironic that the same person complaining that PowerOne Finance and PowerOne Scientific no longer works did so at the same time while lamenting a subscription price for software.

Because “the math doesn’t change.”