Like Trevor McKendrick, I almost threw up in my mouth when I read Marco Arment’s characterization of Vesper’s launch price and lack of features as balls. Before I could write my reaction, Trevor already explained the real reason Vesper will succeed:
Distribution and our attention. That’s what they have that most iOS devs don’t. It’s a huge competitive advantage, but nobody talks about it.
Instead we gush on about how it’s a great app and well designed ad nauseum. We admire it as a piece of artwork and think because it’s good art it makes good business, too.
But that’s the wrong thing to admire about Vesper. While a great app, yes, there are many great apps that don’t go anywhere.
There were no balls involved with the launch of Vesper. This was not a risky move. The Q Branch team knew that their combined internet celebrity would guarantee a baseline level of success, no matter the app or the price. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a very nice app, but as Trevor wrote above, there are many nice apps out there.
Trevor was wrong about one thing, though. Someone has pointed this out before. I made the exact same point with regard to Marco Arment’s The Magazine:
The Magazine is the rich kid of the Newsstand magazine world. It was privileged from the start. Launched by an internet celebrity and touted by his internet celebrity friends, the first issue had articles by great writers like Jason Snell and Michael Lopp. It had an audience before it launched and was guaranteed a baseline level of success out of the gate. And that initial success is what enabled Marco to hire a great editor, pay print-competitive rates to attract print-quality writers, and to integrate illustrations and photos. I doubt any TypeEngine magazine will have these advantages, despite the quality of content.
Apps from internet celebrities aren’t much different than clothing lines from fashion models or shoes from basketball players. It’s all about the brand. The Q Branch team has built an excellent brand over the years, and Vesper will succeed because of that brand. No balls necessary.
Had the same thoughts.