Customer Service - Ansca Style

Heard the title song for the Apprentice? It goes "Money, Money Money" Now how good would that be if Ansca was *truly* helping developers to achieve that. However, Business is a business is a business, the bottom line for the guys that sit above Carlos and Walter and pull the strings are only interested in Money. The past week is full of examples to support that.

The latest of them all,
I could not really see this despite downloading the new 703 build. I saw a few tweets/posts but it was not really clear on what the issue was. I recollect an older post (about a year ago or so) it was when the Windows version of CoronaSDK was released, to give the user the ability to have a custom size device without a skin. However, we've come full circle, still the same issue. Not saying that they should listen to us developers, but sometime there are simple solutions which are there easy to implement, but...
The skinless mode is a good options for those running Corona on the Mac Netbooks (a.k.a. MacBook Air)

This because such a lashback from the community following comments on http://developer.anscamobile.com/forum/2011/12/09/trial-users-dont-upgrade-2011703 that tells trial users not to upgrade to 703. So first thing is that this is not a Daily Build, because trail users are not allowed to have those. Secondly, the only reason for this release has to be promoting the *new* deal Ansca had with the Israeli AD provider, Inneractive Ads. There is no compelling reason to release this build other than to claim on their deal with Inneractive. You think that the users and the community mean anything other than "Oh, we have x numbers of users that will jump and register for your product". Did you notice that the Nook was added silently, almost inconspicuously after so much noise when it was released, where as the Kindle Fire was added with so much Fanfare.

They call it the Skingate, where Carlos himself has posted that they made a boo-boo and shall fix that immediately in the upcoming release. Where as their Customer Service that know nothing about customers than their own attitude, posted "If you prefer keeping the old build no one is going to stop you - but you're missing out" Yes there are features in the new build, like there are with support for ARMv7 only for Androids. However clients that come up with projects generally have a range of ARMv6 devices, so developers are locating the older builds to compile with. "Yes, we know that we are missing out" but either miss out on the features or miss out entirely as the client is not interested in the new Inneractive Ads, project templates, new demo code, or the Storyboard *IF* the app cannot work on their ARMv6 devices. That is such a big disjoint between reality and Attitude on part of Ansca Customer Service. A few other developers immediately posted that "it comes across as being a money grab"

In fact, I could not get a screengrab on this one, the responses to http://developer.anscamobile.com/forum/2011/12/09/whats-new-ansca-mobile-knows-whats-best-you specially #5 is by Aaron, a Canadian Developer but earlier it had a signoff by Carlos which has then changed to a link that explains how it was sorted. So is this account really belong to a person called Aaron, or is this a fictious name that Ansca have created, or worse still, they edit/alter the comments on the website as they please which is open to misrepresentation specially if it has your name on it.

The general feeling has been that developers are being pushed around, Ansca is up for money grab and does not really care. A lot of new developers that cannot get things done with CoronaSDK now have to *buy* training at $200 to learn the basics for 2 hours under the name "CoronaSDK Training", This should have been a *FREE* offering from Ansca towards its users to help migrate them over, like Apple has videos that help developers to learn about development using their platforms/framework.

In this week, most of the actions by Ansca have clearly lead to one basic underlying fact, *Money Grab* The Ansca website has a highly inflated number of events served which they use to tie in with partners to get good deals (money grab) they are interested in promoting apps that give them brand value, specially when they throw names like Dorittos, Chevrolet, Ansca does not promote Indie developers as much, Never heard of them talking about how good an effort from Joe Blogs, They piggy back on what they can use and discard as soon as their purpose is solved. Many Indie developers are fanboy base for them, they promote Ansca with the aim of maybe getting featured on the 3rd Party list or being promoted by Ansca, only to find that they take the free publicity and then it's TTFN "Ta Ta For now"

Even after being entrepreneurs, it seems that the mindset has not really changed. Where Ansca should have been building partners in the community, there were so many things proposed to Ansca since the last year or so to which there were issues from Ansca, today they are trying to implement the same things, but rather than build partnerships, they are Competing directly with their userbase. To put this in perspective, the only reason why Apple employees are not allowed to make and ship apps is that Apple would not like to be in the position where they seem to be competing with their userbase. They cannot have the unfair advantage of selling their development platform and then sell services, etc that compete directly, Ansca does exactly that. They sell their licenses, not software (mind you) and then kill all the axillary market around it by competing in the same space as 3rd Party Developers. The desperation is now visible on the Ansca front, why would they not want to just concentrate on making this a wonderful platform? It seems that maybe sometimes they are deliberately slowing down the feature set available so that they can get a user to pay 2-3 subscriptions. It is like selling a car without the doors and the seats, so you can still drive it around, it works, so what if you cannot sit, close the door and drive.

Lastly the test drivers are allowed to take CoronaSDK out for a spin, but they cannot upload their apps to the app store. Let us look at how other frameworks manage that, GameSalad allows the free users (what Ansca calls, Test Drivers) to upload an app but have a "Made with GS" splash screen and/or branding. Gideros Mobile allows the free users to upload but has to have "Made with Gideros Mobile" splash screen. Ansca has sneakily duped it's users on this. It said (it still should somewhere) that it is not important for a developer to display affiliation to CoronaSDK/Ansca when they release their apps. However it will be nice, I remember this as I was one of the few developers that requested for a CoronaSDK logo that we could display on the website or in the app in credits. At that time Ansca was more like a community thing, than a Big Bad Business. I am sure that the guys above Carlos saw the potential in that, and they put forward that to be eligible for the App of the week/month you *should* put the CoronaSDK logo on your website. How was the App of the Week/Month determined? There were/are no rubrics on that, it is entirely upto the discretion of Hetal, since there was and still isn't any transparency on how the outcomes for that process was determined. In fact what did App of the week mean, the apps that were released this week or the apps that Hetal was playing with that week... nada!! In fact it is surprising on how I could have missed that obvious sign at that time. Look up Ansca's tweets and blogs, their main interest was how many apps would reach the top of the charts, so that they could say, "App X" was made with CoronaSDK. There was absolutely no promotion on the apps that were not performing or needed a little push, if by chance it suddenly gained momentum, it was all on Ansca blogs and twittterland. So Ansca *should* open up the Test Drivers in a similar manner that if they upload an app with the free version, it should have the "Made With Corona" splash screen. They should get rid of the Indie licenses or allow for a device to have both the iOS Indie and the Android Indie license, that will provide atleast 4 devices instead of two, since you cannot buy additional licenses/device activation. (Whoops!! That could be next, Ansca might start charging that, Here... here's an opportunity to make some more money...Marketing...Pssst)

I would like to clarify that I like the concept the framework that CoronaSDK is, I would like to see that it does become what it set out to be, a good framework for mobile development, (the dream of being the #1 and definitive framework for mobile development might be over, so they should look at the next best thing) Yes, everyone that starts a business has the need to get income and pay their bills, so I will not discount that having a bottom line aim for Money is bad, however that being the main aim at the expense of providing shoddy customer service, with a wiped motor mouth is not not customer service. They need to have tie-ups with other partners, but the same rule applies the customers that pay are not leverage, but customers, so when they try to go for money grabs and inflate numbers, that is wrong. Indies set up shop for development and or services around the framework but when Ansca steps in, they can kill them. A classic example is that DropBox created an ecosystem, Apple bring in iCloud, Ta ta, thank you. There are other such examples too, the best one is closest to Ansca is Corona Project Manager. Ansca have not purchased it, but they hold the sword dangling over its head, any time Ansca releases an IDE, CPM is definitely dead, because the new users do not know what is on offer and the first thing they will see on Ansca's site will be "Ansca IDE"... no love to the Indie developers.. no love to the community... You can decide.

Or if I may say this in true Ansca style - "If you would prefer being a fanboy and following Ansca blindly then no one is going to stop you - but you're missing out on the reality ;)"

Comments

  1. You seem rather down on Ansca, but I'm not entirely clear about your objections. Are you surprised that a company offering proprietary software is charging money?

    There are plenty of open source options for mobile development, if free is your primary criteria.

    Your assertion that suggests Ansca competes with its developers and Apple does not is not accurate. Recall why Google Voice was originally rejected (and subsequently approved after government intervention).

    It's common for platform makers to compete with platform developers, and there's not an easy way to deal with the issue. Should Ansca be forced to avoid making an IDE because CPM was released first?

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  2. Tom,
    I guess you have read it without taking off the the Ansca Fanboy glasses. I have never said I have an objection to Ansca making money, after all that’s what a business is for. How will they pay the developers that bring us the wonderful stuff.

    Nor am I suggesting that Ansca should not make an IDE because CPM was made first. I am saying that the selling point as they propagate is "For the developers" which is misleading when every other action is infact *not* for the developers.

    And I think you have also missed the point where I said that I have an issue with the way things are, not the framework. Maybe you need to read that again but this time minus the Fanboy glasses.

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  3. If you dismiss a question by assuming it's the product of "fanboy glasses," it's clear you don't want a discussion. Wouldn't it just be easier to turn comments off?

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  4. Tom, have a discussion, I am saying read the article first without any bias. I have not dismissed your question, you are not hearing anything.

    Turning off comments, that is easy, but not what I am after. Everyone has a right to express their thoughts, irrespective of agreement. Everyone has a rationale to their side of things, I am unable to find yours, help me understand that without the bias.

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  5. I just want to comment on one thing since Corona Project Manager was mentioned by name -- and no, nobody with the initials C or W asked me to ;) ...

    To be fair, when I first decided to create Corona Project Manager it was under the shadow of "hints" from Ansca that they were looking into creating an IDE. However, I knew that I could get something out faster than they could and figured if I could create something good enough, fast enough, that they might buy me out at some point. That was my exit strategy. :)

    Then a few months of sales turned to several months and while there were rumblings at one point about my dream exit strategy coming true, that didn't happen. And here we are over a year later from the launch of CPM and if you look at the Ansca Mobile web site right now you'll see they are promoting CPM as a special offer with purchase of Corona Pro.

    That *is* supporting the indie developer, because I'm one guy in a basement apartment working while my kids and dogs run around distracting me. There's no big brand here. :)

    Yes, you're right that if Ansca comes out with an IDE then I'm probably dead in the water -- but I knew that going in. I felt the risk was worth it, and I feel good about what I've gained.

    At some point I think there will probably be an "official" IDE from Ansca, but I believe when that happens Carlos will give me advance notice. While they are under some restrictions simply from a business standpoint, I don't believe they're "evil" and cutting someone off at the knees without a warning "Jump!" isn't something I'd expect from them.

    If I do get blind-sided I'll join you here with a guest post and you can say, "I told you so." ;)

    Jay

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  6. I hope you do not get shafted, it is not worth my saying "I told you so".

    However I will still await the changes from the motherseed, the market will force the equilibrium. No tide is high forever. I hope even the Rocket Scientists understand that.

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  7. Thumbs up Jayant. Being hyped by Ansca in private emails with hsi CEO and then left dead with no further notice, I have experienced this myself. So Jay, don't bet on your hopes.

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