Who will be left standing?

Since Apple’s tsunami of announcements on Monday, there’s been much speculation on how certain third-party applications are threatened by new features built into Lion and iOS 5. The list is surprisingly long:

I’ve probably missed several more.

Some of these are mild threats; some look pretty serious. Marco Arment has suggested that Apple’s Reading List may turn more people onto Instapaper than it will take away. He uses the addition of RSS features to Safari and Mail as examples—it’s hard to imagine either of these weak offerings hurt NetNewsWire,1 and it’s possible that some people who first learned about RSS from Safari or Mail have looked around for a better solution and landed on NNW.

He’s probably right, but if I were him I’d be worrying about another example: iPodderX. Do you remember iPodderX? It was an application that downloaded podcasts and organized them in your iTunes library.


iPodderX was blown out of the water when Apple added podcasting to iTunes in 2005. It had some advanced features that iTunes didn’t, but they weren’t compelling enough to keep it afloat. It still exists, but when was the last time you heard anything about it? I just downloaded it and looked at the README. It hasn’t been updated since…2005.

The difference between the NetNewWire experience and the iPodderX experience has, I believe, less to do with the quality of these applications than with the effort Apple put into its own features. The RSS additions were half-assed at best, but the podcast addition was first class. Brent Simmons makes a fine program, but I can’t believe NNW would have survived if Apple had put a decent effort into its RSS feature.

I wish good luck to all the independent developers whose apps are threatened, but I hope you have plans that rely on more than luck.

  1. If NetNewsWire has been hurt, it’s been by Google Reader.