In case you missed it plastered all over the Mac web, Cabel Sasser of Panic
, the makers of fine apps such as Transmit and Unison, etc. has posted a long, detailed, and very, very interesting history of their venerable Mac app Audion.
"When we created Audion, our Mac-only, multipurpose MP3 application, Steven Frank and I had one goal: we wanted to listen to our music CDs on our computers while we worked, and we wanted to it be stylish. We had no indication that MP3s would one day turn the music industry upside down and have it running for cover. We certainly had no idea that something like the iPod would pop up and literally change Apple as a company. And even though we weren't really responsible for any revolutions per se — rather, we rode on the revolution-train with many others — everything that happened to Audion just fell into place, magically and unexpectedly, like so many beautiful moments in life."
My favorite quote from the piece has to be how Sasser describes hearing that SoundJam has beaten them to market with SoundJam, a product very similar to their own:
The feeling of being beat to market by days is an interesting one — imagine being punched in the face by a drunk kangaroo then finding five dollars while lying on the floor, a simultaneously crushing but ultimately inspiring experience.
As a developer, I think a LOT of us have experienced that feeling, but I've never seen or heard it stated so eloquently.
If you've even been involved in business, and any kind of acquisition, especially when large companies are involved, you KNOW how what happened to them can be exactly how things play out. You never know if a deal you are working on will screw you for another potential deal. In this case is was AOL, essentially sidetracking them, and causing them to miss their opportunity for Audion to possibly become iTunes instead of SoundJam:
"You guys remember the last time we tried to meet with you? It was actually because we wanted you guys to make iTunes," explained Phil.
That IS exactly how things can happen.
I also love this little Jobs moment. By all accounts, he's not one to mince words, and pretty much tells it like it is, which is what I've always heard about him You'll either hate that about him or love it, I'm guessing:
We also seem to remember Jobs painted us a vibrant (but genuinely honest) picture of how he viewed Audion fairing against iTunes:
"It's like you guys are a little push-cart going down the railroad tracks, and we're a giant steam engine about to run you down."
Sad but true, but iTunes HAS turned out to be a great Mac application...
I recommend reading the whole thing
if you haven't yet. It's a great glimpse into the Mac software market, and I, as a Mac developer trying to produce Mac software full time as well, appreciate the documentation of this tale. I only hope that one day some of our apps turn out to have pasts even half as interesting as Audion...