Jump to content


Photo
- - - - -

iBird Plus vs. Pro


  • Please log in to reply
94 replies to this topic

#1 goofy166

goofy166

    goofy166

  • Administrators
  • 1,992 posts
  • LocationSausalito, CA

Posted 29 March 2009 - 01:51 PM

I wrote this up to help people understand the logic behind iBird Pro vs iBird Plus.  Feel free to leave comments here agreeing or disagreeing, just please keep it civil.

 

We have received a number of communications about iBird PRO and iBird Plus. If I understand the point is that we should have not released a new version of iBird (Pro) with additional features not found in iBird Plus. Some people feel that we should have either provided an upgrade path for iBird Plus owners or raised the price of iBird Plus and added these new features so previous iBird customers would not have to pay for them. Some are particularly upset because Mitch Waite Group made a commitment to continually update their products and that by creating a new version with new features not found in Plus we are breaking that commitment.

 

I'd like to try and explain our business strategy and the thinking behind our release. You may not agree with it, but at least you have the opportunity to understand our reasoning and the limits of what we can and cannot do as an Apple developer.

 

First however I would like to explain the confusion some people have with the definition on our App store product page were we say we will update iBird for the life of the program. There is a difference between an upgrade and an update. An update means changes to the content, such as illustrations, photos, sounds, writing, etc. An update may or may not contain changes to the functionality of the program. We will continue to update all our apps with new content and that is specifically what we mean on our product page. Updates in Apple's business model are free by definition, there is no other way to do them. Upgrades on the other hand are changes to the feature set of the program itself. It may be improvements, additional features, etc.

 

People are correct that the best solution would be to provide an upgrade path for previous owners of iBird Plus so that they could upgrade Plus to Pro for the difference in price. If that was possible we would have gladly taken that approach but unfortunately Apple did not provide such a feature to their developers. We understand that capability is in the upcoming iPhone OS 3.0 and when it’s available and widely distributed to our customers we will definitely implement it.

 

Regarding our commitment to offer updates to all customers I would like to point out that we have been updating all our iBird apps (Backyard and Regional versions) since they were launched and we have no plans to stop. There have in fact been 3 updates to all the products, each offering more features, more content and improvements in stability. We have added hundreds of new photos, speeded up the application searching, added new search attributes (secondary color), improved search attributes (ANY or All logic switch for color). We listened to customers who wanted a Favorite feature and introduced it in the latest version 1.5. We also added a Flickr button to the species page which allows accessing hundreds of additional photos from inside the app. Clearly we are keeping our commitment to continue to upgrade all our applications.

 

Let me try to explain our reasoning for releasing a Pro version of iBird. We have received a considerable number of requests for features from customers we characterize as advanced birders. These people asked us to add features which require adding a good deal of complexity to the iBird Plus product and considerable programming efforts on our part. We felt these features changed the target audience for iBird Plus which we see as serious birders. We felt that there was a bifurcation of the audience for our product and that the family tree needed to be changed to accommodate them. As I mentioned there was no mechanism for an upgrade from iBird Plus so we decided to create a new product called iBird Pro for Professionals. Please note that because this is software the difference in file size between Plus and Pro is not dramatic, but the work involved was.

 

We understood this might create some consternation from people who had just purchased iBird Plus and would have purchased iBird Pro had they known about it. Unfortunately we felt there was nothing we could do about that other than explain our reasoning. We added a note to the beginning of the iBird Plus product page explaining there was a Pro version birders might want to examine in the app store that fully explains its features. We added a product comparison table to our web site that compares Plus and Pro (http://www.ibirdexplorer.com/PRO.html) and we added a product finder to help people understand all versions of iBird (http://www.ibirdexpl...uct_finder.html) so they could pick a version that best suited their needs.

 

There are a group of people who have suggested that we should have raised the price of iBird Plus, added these new features, and then created a mid level app without these features. Here is an example of this thinking:

 

"I feel you would have been far more fair to your loyal early adopters if you had added the new features to iBird Plus instead. If you needed to raise the price, so be it, raise the price for new users. If that left a price gap, so be it, create a new mid-tier product that was equivalent to the old version, but in making iBird Pro, since there is no upgrade path, I have to buy iBird Pro and basically trash my iBird Plus. BUT, I am afraid to buy iBird Pro for fear that in a few months I will learn of some new iBird Super-Pro."

 

We thought of this approach and discussed it at length but we felt that this was not a good business decision. First we don’t feel that our commitment to add new features to iBird Plus should dictate that forever we can't create a higher end version. Furthermore we have 5 regional versions and a backyard version of iBird that would require this same "upgrade and release a new middle road iBird" process, which would mean there would have to be mid-range versions of every one of those versions created. This would mean we would need to create 14 new products just to accommodate the logic of this approach.

 

I would also like to point out that all industries create new products and don’t offer customers that purchased their previous products free upgrades. When you buy a new car you don't expect lifetime updates and when Apple releases a new laptop which is faster than the one you just purchased has more memory and cost less do you blame Apple for innovating? I understand that there are people for who this argument falls flat but most people understand it and accept it. I believe we are upgrading the features and content of all our products and therefore keeping our commitments. It may not be the same commitment everyone envisions. Perhaps that is the flaw in trying to be upfront about future products. Most companies are silent on their plans.

 

Our plans at this time, providing Apple meets the schedules on the release of OS3, is to update all iBird apps to OS3. When that is done a new app store will appear on a page in the app itself. From this page you will be able to upgrade from any level version to a higher, e.g. Plus users will be able to upgrade  to Pro, Backyard to Regional, Plus or Pro, etc for an incremental cost. 

 

As far as being worried that if you buy Pro you may discover a super-pro version was released, all I can say is that is just not going to happen. We have and we will continue to update all versions of iBird including Plus, Pro, Backyard, and the regional versions. We will add features to each that we feel are appropriate for their audiences.

 

I understand that this communication may not satisfy everyone and for that reason we have created this forum for iBird so you can express your thoughts to a wider audience and get feedback. We are doing this because we want to keep our customers happy and we want to be honest with them and understand their needs. Here is the URL for the Talk about iBird forum:

 

http://www.whatbird....ms/default.aspx

 

 

Mitch Waite



#2 singraham

singraham

    singraham

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 4 posts

Posted 29 March 2009 - 03:39 PM

I think part of the issue here is the amount of trust it takes to assume that you guys will correctly identify the features that are plus (serious birders) and the features that are pro. For instance, to me song search is a plus feature, and should be included at the plus level. I am okay with all the other features unique to Pro (and will be a pro user) but I think serious birders are both interested in song search, and would benifit from having access to it.

I am hoping you are going to seek a lot of advice and feedback before assigning a proposed feature to one branch of the family tree or the other. 



#3 goofy166

goofy166

    goofy166

  • Administrators
  • 1,992 posts
  • LocationSausalito, CA

Posted 29 March 2009 - 04:31 PM

Thanks for the feedback and comments Stephen. Identifying features that have not yet been created is a bit tough because my competition will be reading this forum and will start drooling if I reveal our plans. What I will probably do is share them with a select group of users who I can trust will keep things confident. And of course we listen to what the birding community and our customers say. So I hear that you would prefer search by song to be part of Plus. I hope we get more people engaged here so please spread the word.


#4 greenstem

greenstem

    greenstem

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 1 posts

Posted 30 March 2009 - 09:28 AM

I admit I was one of those iBird Plus users who was initially upset at the new iBird Pro.

I agree with the previous poster who said it is a matter of building trust.  The current limitations of the app store in not allowing upgrades or more flexible sales options does limit the publishers ability to handle these types of issues and thus gain the trust of the user community. Once Apple allows some more flexible sales/upgrade models we will then start to really see which developers are truly interested in supporting their existing customers and which are more interested in trying to make a short term profit.

That being said, the fact that iBird has taken the time to setup these forums and address the user community concerns does demonstrate a more trustworthy approach than many of the other apps out there. Coupled with their rapid response to my direct emails, I am now inclined to believe that this is a serious application with a long and happy future which will continue to address the concerns and needs of all the users both existing and new.

As for the details of the iBird Plus vs Pro, I look at some of the additions in Pro and agree they are for the real pros. I am a long time birder, but to be honest,  I dont even know what some of the new features in Pro are such as band code searching and Red Book Status.

But I would like to see the Plus series of products updated to include the ability to search by month/location and the larger pan/zoom image. The ability to limit the search by month seems like a natural need of the target audience of the iBird Plus series. I would imagine the Pro users are already going to be familiar with the local birds and seasonal changes, while the less advanced "serious" birders are more likely to find themselves in a new location with no idea of what birds are present that particular month. Sure we have the range maps with seasons, but that assumes we have already run the search.

Anyhow, I am sure the entire series of iBird apps will continue to improve and I am eagerly awaiting both future updates and advancements in the overall Apple Appstore capabilities to better tailor these types of upgrade issues.

 



#5 drewweber

drewweber

    drewweber

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 5 posts

Posted 30 March 2009 - 11:38 AM

I have to agree with the previous posters on pretty much all they wrote. I think the needs of the serious birder would be more and better/bigger images. Possibly a feature where you turn the iPhone in landscape mode and it turns into a gallery of all the available illustrations.

Also, additional and higher quality sounds would be great. A bunch of the bird songs have strange digital things going on in the background that make loud playback humorous.

Adding listing capabilities/eBird reporting would make this app really awesome. 

I know its a struggle to add more pictures and sounds and still keep the file size down. I like how the app is progressing and am looking forward to new updates.



#6 goofy166

goofy166

    goofy166

  • Administrators
  • 1,992 posts
  • LocationSausalito, CA

Posted 30 March 2009 - 05:11 PM

Nice feedback Drew. We have your ideas on our list and they are all good. Your right about the app getting too big, its a perennial battle with these large databases that everyone faces.

So while we are discussing functionality how do you folks feel about a Note taking feature? As currently envisioned it would be a button all species pages that would let you to enter any text you want. Not a fancy lifelist system, that is going to be a separate function, but just a little way to write down an observation about a species, like "Today (3/20/09) I saw this Ruffle-sided Bluebird in my backyard licking a Popsicle"? It would be there when ever you viewed the species again to add to.



#7 Doug in Escondido

Doug in Escondido

    Doug in Escondido

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 31 posts

Posted 31 March 2009 - 09:13 AM

Frankly, I greatly appreciate the candor of the developer ingoing to a public blog such as this to explain, in detail, the currentlimitations imposed by Apple that preclude an upgrade path from one product toa different one, as well as the rationale behind the introduction of anentirely new product.  Whether oneagrees or disagrees, one can at least understand, and appreciate the enormouscontribution these products (I now happily have both iBird Plus and iBird PRO)make to the birding experience.

 

After seeing the ad for iBird in the inside front cover ofDecember issue of Birdwatcher’s Digest, the only way to stop the drooling wasto finally break through my resistance to shopping at iTunes and make my firstpurchase.  iBird Plus exceeded myexpectations many times over, and is an app that I have used and enjoyed everyday since.

 

Not only that, but I have gotten TWO FREE upgradessince.  I love my Sibleys(original, smaller Western edition and “Bird Life & Behavior” editions),but they have never given me a free upgrade!  And when there was a substantially different product, theydid not release a new print edition, they released a whole new book and Ihappily bought it.

 

I have also enjoyed showing off iBird Plus to other birdersand, while leading a bird walk Saturday, a fellow birder was so impressed healso wanted to buy it.  He latercalled to let me know that there was a new edition, iBird PRO.  Wanting to remain state of the art, Igot iBird PRO and it is amazing! Excellent product in terms of features, ease of use, and just plain FUN!

 

I want to thank this developer for providing amazing birdingproducts and for their customer support! And Apple should thank them too -- many of us older users are not big onInternet shopping.  Afterovercoming my reluctance to shop at iTunes, buying iBird Plus was so easy, Ihave since downloaded other apps, both free and purchased, and now iBird PRO.



#8 vibaby

vibaby

    vibaby

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 1 posts

Posted 31 March 2009 - 11:26 AM

I'm an amateur bird photographer and I just bought iBird Plus 10 days ago for $20 for the iPhone. I was excited to see the PRO version's additional features, but with no upgrade capability, I will never buy PRO since I don't want to make a $50 total commitment to the program just to get the one or two extra features that PRO has. You should combine the two products and not leave the recent buyers frustrated. I would have bought PRO if it was available, but I won't buy both.

#9 goofy166

goofy166

    goofy166

  • Administrators
  • 1,992 posts
  • LocationSausalito, CA

Posted 31 March 2009 - 12:17 PM

vibaby I am sorry you bought Plus just days before Pro was introduced. At that time we did not have the comment on the top of the product page: "ADVANCED BIRDERS: You may want to review iBird Pro that has additional features not found in Plus". People seem to find this note useful as I have heard very few complaints from NEW buyers who wished they had bought Pro. Combining the programs does not make sense to us as they are tailored for two different audiences, as my message at the beginning of this thread explains. Once Apple implements in-app purchases the whole upgrade issue will disappear. Please email me directly for a solution: ibird at whatbird dot com.


#10 Doug in Escondido

Doug in Escondido

    Doug in Escondido

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 31 posts

Posted 01 April 2009 - 10:17 AM

Regarding the idea of anote-taking feature, I would find such a feature extremely attractive, to allowmaking notes such as ID tips from expert birders or factoids of interest orother comments/observations of personal interest that might not be of moregeneral interest.

#11 Doug in Escondido

Doug in Escondido

    Doug in Escondido

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 31 posts

Posted 01 April 2009 - 10:20 AM

Frankly, I greatlyappreciate the candor of the developer in going to a public blog such as thisto explain, in detail, the current limitations imposed by Apple that precludean upgrade path from one product to a different one, as well as the rationalebehind the introduction of an entirely new product.  Whether one agrees or disagrees, one can at leastunderstand, and appreciate the enormous contribution these products (I have nowdownloaded iBird PRO and now happily have both iBird Plus and iBird PRO) maketo the birding experience. 

With iBird Plus, I havegotten TWO FREE upgrades since buying it last December.  I love my three Sibleys (original,smaller Western edition and “Bird Life & Behavior” editions), but they havenever given me a free upgrade!  Andwhen there was a substantially different product, they did not release a newprint edition, they released a whole new book and I happily bought it. 

I have also enjoyed showingoff iBird Plus to other birders and, while leading a bird walk Saturday, afellow birder was so impressed he also wanted to buy it.  He later called to let me know thatthere was a new edition, iBird PRO. Wanting to remain state of the art, I downloaded iBird PRO and it isamazing!  Excellent product interms of features, ease of use, and just plain FUN! 



#12 Stinky

Stinky

    Stinky

  • New Members
  • Pip
  • 3 posts

Posted 01 April 2009 - 02:11 PM

Search by month and by song are definitely not "pro" features.  This is something that would be very beneficial to the average birder.

 As for not telling people in advance about software and advances only Apple does this.  Almost all the software companies release statements of what is to come.  For instance where can I buy Windows 7?  Or Documents to Go for the iPhone?

The main point though I feel is that there should be an elite version of whatever name you want it to be and that should always be the elite version.  Those of us that bothered to read the help page knew that this software was a work in progress and since it was the plus was the elite version at the time felt like we are being robbed of the new features.

This program is not a complete program but I feel like I am getting in on the ground floor of something that could be great.  

I also feel that with that new features are going to be added to the pro version until something major happens and a new version will then be the mainstream or that the features will not be divided up properly.  I am no pro birder and do not wish to spend 50 bux on a bird program.  I would like a feature complete plus version with things like month search and song search.  I do not need genus and stuff like that.  That is definitely geared more to a pro type birder.  Anyway thats my 2 cents worth.

 



#13 goofy166

goofy166

    goofy166

  • Administrators
  • 1,992 posts
  • LocationSausalito, CA

Posted 01 April 2009 - 03:10 PM

One man's Pro features are another man's Plus. So I won't get into a debate on what search criteria are destined for one app and not the other I will just listen to what everyone has to say, find out if there is a trend and make adjustments. Probably if we had a Pro version to begin with we could have offered a Plus version that was cheaper with less features and only people on a budget would like it. Sure software companies release statements of what to come but then they decide the feature set, not the customer. And in doing so they take there chances. As time goes on the differences between the two iBird versions will become more apparent. In fact when OS3 is released we will have some features for all the apps that will make the entire issue go away. Appreciate your feedback.


#14 Doug in Escondido

Doug in Escondido

    Doug in Escondido

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 31 posts

Posted 01 April 2009 - 09:25 PM

Frankly, I greatly appreciate the candor of the developer in going to a public blog such as this to explain, in detail, the current limitations imposed by Apple that preclude an upgrade path from one product to a different one, as well as the rationale behind the introduction of an entirely new product.  Whether one agrees or disagrees, one can at least understand, and appreciate the enormous contribution these products (I have now downloaded iBird PRO and now happily have both iBird Plus and iBird PRO) make to the birding experience.  With iBird Plus, I have gotten TWO FREE upgrades since buying it last December.  I love my three Sibleys (original,smaller Western edition and “Bird Life & Behavior” editions), but they have never given me a free upgrade!  And when there was a substantially different product, they did not release a new print edition, they released a whole new book and I happily bought it.

#15 goofy166

goofy166

    goofy166

  • Administrators
  • 1,992 posts
  • LocationSausalito, CA

Posted 02 April 2009 - 07:28 AM

Thank you Doug for the words of clarity. I wish everyone was as understanding and supportive as you are but I think it's difficult for people to understand when a developer says "updates forever" what that means exactly. I think I may have given the wrong impression when I wrote that. What it means is that "content" will always be updated, which is a unique proposition, but I can see were people felt it meant that features would be upgraded forever as well. So its really my fault for not being clearer. I'm going to modify the text in the product page but at this point most people who already made the assumption about what updates forever means most likely wont change their minds.



#16 mmatmRed

mmatmRed

    mmatmRed

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 3 posts

Posted 02 April 2009 - 11:54 AM

I really do appreciate the commitment you are giving to your customers.  I too was initially disappointed there is no upgrade price for current plus users, but completely understand it is a limitation of the Apple Store.  I think there are some misconceptions with Apple customers who can't see a difference between updates and upgrades.  They seem to think that new features should be added to a program that already exists for free rather than updates that fix glitches or improve speed.  There's a game that I had bought a while back and now another version of it is for sale with extra gameplay.  More work went into creating these extra screens and challenges, so certainly folks should get paid for this and not just eat the cost of all the work that went into it.

That being said, I'm going against what I said in my first paragraph, I believe that the search by song ought to be added to the Plus version.  Here's my reason why: Beginning birders who are still learning (like me) can really use search by song to help narrow down the birds, same with search by month, yet they likely wouldn't feel confident enough to lay down $30 for the Pro version when it has features they might never use. It is an assumption based on not really knowing what those features are or how to use them, but again, that's the limitation of the Apple store where you can only read descriptive text and view a few images.  However, when people are concerned about money, they'll opt for the less expensive version especially when there are unknowns.  Plus these features are on your website for free and you have set a precedent of adding a new feature or two with each update.

I'm not sure I see enough difference between Plus & Pro at this point for Pro to be considered a new product.  Pro just has some extra features that the Plus does not have, but the interface is completely the same and much like what is already on the WhatBird website.  Now, if the Pro version had a search by song in the manner of the program Shazam, then it most certainly would be a completely different program.  Even better, if the distribution maps could link to the GPS in the iPhone (clearly these features wouldn't work with iPod Touch) to help narrow down the searches - or basically make a list of the possible birds in that specific area.  These are definitely significant differences in the program and would be for the very enthusiastic birders who would also be great evangelists for your program at festivals.



#17 mmatmRed

mmatmRed

    mmatmRed

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 3 posts

Posted 02 April 2009 - 12:09 PM

A note taking feature would be awesome.  I can see myself using it to date the sighting and location as well as any fun notes on the sighting - like licking a popsicle, lol! 

Is there a way to merge it with the ebird idea? Or maybe it should stay seperate and minimal or limited notes can be on the Plus. Longer note space on the Pro.



#18 goofy166

goofy166

    goofy166

  • Administrators
  • 1,992 posts
  • LocationSausalito, CA

Posted 02 April 2009 - 04:33 PM

mmatmRed:

  Plus these features are on your website for free and you have set a precedent of adding a new feature or two with each update.

There is no relationship between what is on the web site and what is in iBird. They are completely different business models.

I hear what you are saying about the search by song feature and there should be more differences between Plus and Pro. I am reluctant to go much further, as its better to under promise and over deliver. But I will say this - we will continue to enhance and improve all versions of the Mitch Waite group product line. The same quality we applied as computer book publishers will be upheald in our software products.

And if you are curious as to what the competition will be like, take a look at this link.



#19 goofy166

goofy166

    goofy166

  • Administrators
  • 1,992 posts
  • LocationSausalito, CA

Posted 02 April 2009 - 04:34 PM

All apps will have the note taking feature, but Pro will be more powerful.


#20 Doug in Escondido

Doug in Escondido

    Doug in Escondido

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 31 posts

Posted 02 April 2009 - 05:33 PM

I find it refreshing that a developer has so much confidence he can freely pass along info about future competitors.  I checked the link and it looks interesting.  Just as I have many printed Field Guides, I imagine I will likely download multiple digital field guides as they become available.  Having more resources and more info is always a plus (or a PRO).  In the meantime, the more I use both iBird Plus and iBird PRO, the more impressed I am with the scope of these excellent products, both in terms of their technical achievements and also the comprehensive value they add to the birding experience.  I have no connection to the developer of iBird other than being a very satisfied customer and a very impressed birder.  While I welcome additional resources, I see iBird as a long-time provider of digital excellence for birding.




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users