On the Tweetie 2 Debacle

This week, Loren Brichter (author of Tweetie, an ADA-Award-Winning Twitter client) touched off a firestorm of a debate when he announced Tweetie 2 for the iPhone would be a paid upgrade. The price? All of US $3. Jackasssery ensued.

First, full disclosure: I’m a developer. I make a living writing and selling applications (in addition to a full-time contract development position at the National Institutes of Health). I follow the independent developer circles with great interest because, despite not being well-known amongst those circles, I’m part of them.

The points the nay-sayers appear to be making can be summed up in this sentence: “I already paid for Tweetie 1, so why should I pay again for Tweetie 2?”

My response can be summed up in this sentence: “Because Loren isn’t working for free, jackass.”

Slightly expanded: “Because it’s rarely feasible to make a living by spending months developing a software application for free and Loren has bills to pay … jackass.”

The childish, selfish mentality of those who expect a new version of a product to be free is unlikely to be fixed with such a flimsy thing as “reason”. Instead, the best we can hope for is that their tantrum will tire them out and they’ll fall asleep, finally giving us adults the peace we so desperately crave.

A few columnists and bloggers have likened this to “I paid for a [cup of coffee | lunch | whatever] yesterday, why should I pay again today?”.

Bravo sirs (and madams?)! That’s exactly the line of reasoning the whiners seem to be following. Yet I can’t help but wonder if there’s more to it. Something else they’re not quite able to articulate through their frustration.

Many just dismiss it as mere entitlement. Perhaps there’s more. Maybe they’re upset at the timing. I was surprised to see that the iPhone version has in fact been out for nearly a year. Maybe they don’t realize that themselves. Maybe they feel this paid upgrade is coming too soon. The problem is, a year for a major release seems to be a common and reasonable cycle. Charging for a major release is also common and reasonable. However, they’re whining because they just bought Tweetie 1 recently.

I don’t know what their problem really is, but I know this: It takes many long hours of hard work and dedication to build a functional, well-polished application with which users fall instantly in love. That kind of time isn’t free.

Besides, like others have said, it’s three fucking dollars. If you want it, quit your damn bitching and pay up, cheapskate!