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April 30, 2009

At the moment of surrender - or why WorldMate for iPhone, and why NOW

If you have come here searching for WorldMate for Android, follow the link to sign-up for the WorldMate Android Beta

For over a year now, we've been inundated with questions (initially), requests (later) and grunts (lately) regarding WorldMate for the iPhone. Initially, it was simply WorldMate's history - we've had WorldMate on Palm OS, Windows Mobile, Symbian UIQ, S60, S80, S90, J2ME, Windows Desktop, BlackBerry... people naturally assumed we'd automatically do iPhone too. Later it was surprise - as it seemed like the iPhone app market is a huge opportunity for developers - how come a long-established and category leading brand like WorldMate isn't there?

On our CEO's blog he explained our rationale. In retrospect, it's interesting to see how the iPhone and our perception of it changed over time. In August 2007 he stated "What the iPhone definitely isn't is a good business tool". In October 2008 he asked users to petition Apple to allow us to do push, background processing etc. to enable the Auto-updating and Alert functionality in WorldMate Live. By then, it was clear to us that the iPhone is here to stay, and that iPhone desire, even crave WorldMate - and that we can't ignore their pleas. The comments we got ranged from enouragement - e.g. "I think worldmate live is a great application and I'd love to see it on iphone" to"I switched from BlackBerry, and not having WM is killing me."

But still we dragged our feet. Why? the reasons above had much to do with it. Our pre-occupation with Windows Mobile, Symbian etc. contributed too. But mostly,  we were concerned about the business model. You see, WorldMate Live is a $99/year service. The propsects of selling in a market where the so-called leaders sell $0.99 mini-apps is daunting. In January 2009, when we were examining the iPhone App Store success stories a little closer in the post titled "iPhone, iTunes, iFart..." we asked people what they thought we should do. We were encouraged to hear responses like:

"a high price suggests higher value and differentiation from the low quality apps out there - from seeing who's carrying iphones in the big cities, seems like there'll be enough happy customers for the worldmate live app."

and

"If people are willing to pay $.99 for crappy apps and odd sounds, imagine what they would pay for an app that is actually useful and works wonderfully like WorldMate Live."

These responses marked the trigger for our iPhone development. But WorldMate Live is a BIG system.  We have an 8-person team working on it since January. When it's released, it will arguably be the biggest, richest iPhone app out there.And in the mean time, we still have quite a few dilemmas and debates. Some of which we aired in public in March. At this stage, it seems like the audience wasn't too appreciative anymore, and the comments we got were a little less appreciative...

"What I think is that you are very bitter... Now I have the iphone, as it is in my opinion the better platform I now look forward to getting a product similar to WM from someone else, it will now only be a matter of time..."

Last month, Apple announced iPhone SDK 3.0. It doesn't let us do everything we want to be able to do, but it's a huge step forward. By this summer, it will allow us some limited push functionality, and management of paid subscriptions. For us, this is a coming-of-age of this platform, and we want to be on it - ASAP.

The iPhone has revolutionized the smartphone market in several ways. The most important one is not technological or design-centric - it has to do with the marketing message. Apple is focusing it on the availability of applications - stuff to do with your phone beyond voice / SMS / Email. Everyone in the mobile software business has been pleading with manufacturers and operators for years to do this. These manufacturers built great smartphones, then marketed them as "camera phones", "camcorder phones" (remember the Nokia 6620?) and "communicators". In doing so they've been sending the wrong message to their customers, and delaying the smartphone revolution. In a way you could say that these companies they were not confident in their product. Maybe the engineers and product managers unsderstood apps. The marketers didn't. Nokia was not really sure that the 9300 is good for anything beyond communications. RIM was not sure BlackBerries are really more than e-mail devices.

Apple is confident. And with this confidence they set out to show the public that these devices they've built can do all those "new" things. TV commercials showing apps on the iPhone. Full-page ads showing just an iPhone with apps. Apple retail shop-fronts with displays of hundreds of apps – can the message get any clearer?

2 years ago, if you downloaded an app to your smartphone, you were a geek. Now you're cool.

On top of this – the iPhone is currently the best mobile platform for content consumption. Between the great screen to the elegant and highly usable UI, a great medium was from an ergonomic perspective. Regardless if what you're looking at is your travel itinerary, a news article or a video clip – the iPhone is probably the best mobile platform to consume this content, and competes well even with other media – from paper through television to desktop computers.

So – what we have here is a platform whose users see as a great medium to carry and consume content on.  Millions of business professionals have turned it into their preferred tool. Their use of it corresponds closely to our WorldMate vision – they carry their info, access it, look up info they need in real time, and react to it - directly on their iPhones.

 Warranted – the lack of some key features still puts it at a disadvantage – if we could push info to you, we'd be able to provide you with the context-sensitive alert capabilities of WorldMate Live. If you had a keyboard, data-entry operations would be easier. And we're still concerned with app pricing, which makes it hard for us to get back the millions of $ we put in the WorldMate Live system. But it's time we move forward – and that is what we're doing. So it's not long now before we'll release WorldMate for the iPhone. In the mean time we invite you to tell us what you want, what you think and what you need. And if you'd like to be notified as soon as it's available – just click here to register for that notification.

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I hope that this doesn't mean that, in the process, the Android platform has slid off your radar.

From day one, Android has delivered exactly the kind of developer flexibility you're describing. Push, sync, and notification are directly built into the platform. Location awareness is uniquely clever. Handsets are incorporating compass functionality. I'm a huge fan of what Apple has done, but I think in these areas, Google has exceeded what Apple has done. A lot of us business users are also now working with Google Apps accounts, so that integration could be fantastic.

I can also say as a developer, it's a very friendly place -- and if you come from Blackberry development, it'll feel both familiar and like a huge upgrade.

I've just had to cancel my WorldMate Live account after ditching my Blackberry for Android. I hope you'll consider it, alongside the (admittedly excellent) iPhone.

I'll add my weight to that last comment. I've been waiting for better hardware to run the Android platform - before jumping over from windows module. From what I hear of the latest handsets, they're making good progress. I'd strongly urge you to look at the Android app as you move forward.

I have paid for 12mths with WM and now own a iPhone once you are up and running will this pass onto my current account?

Good to hear that you're finally moving forward with an iPhone release. But it's too little, too late -- I've already switched from WorldMate to TripIt, because they were early to get an iPhone version released.

Maybe its because Jonathan has joined the company

Shafiq

Shafiq

Please consider an Android app. The phones have become part of business use now that they have Exchange support and ability to do push email with Google. As a Google Apps user, I have moved away from BES and Exchange and am very happy with Google Apps on the Android platform.

I have had to recently drop my WM Gold subscription because I switched away from my Blackberry.

I'd like to push for an Android app also. I am currently carrying a Blackbery only for the WM app, but cannot justify the added expense much longer. If WM is not going to do Android, I wish you'd just tell us so we can move on. Thx.

Especially with the release of the Droid on Verizon, I think an Android application would be crucial at this time. I'm on WorldMate withdrawal since switching. Debating buying FlightStats...but wanting my WorldMate

Please deliver the app for the Droid. Have loved WM for two years, but just today jumped over from BB to the Droid. Fly out tomorrow and will have to carry the old Bold and the new Droid together.

FlightStats just added trips. It's no WorldMate yet, but if it's the only game in Droidville, it will have enough support to approach that level.

Dear WorldMate:

After my Windows Mobile phone began to bug out on me, I decided to move to the HTC Hero (via Sprint) as I read so many positive reviews of both the phone itself and also the Android operating system. My expectations of both the phone and the OS have been exceeded greatly.

WorldMate is one of the finest applications on any platform. And, thus, I would like to add my voice to the chorus here asking (pleading??) for an Android-compatible release with full functionality.

I am not a software developer, so I have no concept of what it would take to get this application up and running on Android. But my guess is that it is possible. Many other apps I have used on WM are available on Android. My guess is that this OS is going to continue to grow in distribution MARKEDLY.

Please post here to let us know what's what with WorldMate on Android. You guys will pick up many, many new customers, and will keep a bunch as well!!

Thanks!!

L'hitra'ot,

David

I'm adding my voice to the rest asking for a WorldMate app for the Android platform. I too am leaving my BlackBerry behind for an Android device. I sincerely wish I could migrate my WM account with me, but sadly, not at this time. Honestly, it's the ONLY application that I shall miss from my old BlackBerry - and I will miss it greatly... until you come out with WM for Android that is! (yes?)

Do I hear more for android... yes I do

ANDROID PLEASE!

+1 for Android
WorldMate and Slingplayer are the two apps I'm really missing after my switch from windows mobile to the Droid

Want to add my vote for an Android app. Just switched from BB last week and Worldmate is the app I miss the most.

I'd also like to add my vote for an Android version. I've used Worldmate on a range of devices (Palm, Windows Mobile, Blackberry, iPhone) and find it very sad that there's no Android version. I believe Android is now the best business platform next to the Blackberry (Palm's gone, iPhone OS is very limited and may put off many business customers, Windows Mobile is about to go the way of the Dodo) and lots of people move from BB to Android.

Peter

I too dropped my dying BB for a Droid. I cancelled my Gold for lack of an Android app. Is this on your radar Worldmate? It should be!

Make the Android App, Please, the withdrawls are getting worse with every trip I have to use your competitor. Please Hurry.

I am currently awaiting delivery of my android device and will be absolutely gutted to be without worldmate! It has been without doubt the most reliable and useful application on my mobile device.

I can actually remember once, checking in to a flight for Mallorca from Manchester and informing the desk staff that the flight was to be delayed by 2 hours; to which they disagreed and more or less called me a fool, 20 minutes later the check in clerk came up to me and apologised and asked me how I knew this... she subsequently purchased a gold subscription!

To have Worldmate on android would make perfect sense I for one am astonished that it isn't already! I am soon to take trips to the US and China and the far East; this trips will be without Worldmate and I fear a lot more difficult because of it!

Some response from WorldMate on WM for Android would be very much appreciated!!!

Please make us a WorldMate app for the Droid!

Just adding my support for Android. I am a former BlackBerry user and miss having WorldMate on my device. Android is now available on some great hardware and is a platform that continues to grow. I think it has much more of a future ahead of it with frequent business travelers than things like the Symbian platform does. Many of the latest Android devices compete very well with BlackBerry and iPhone. I realize this means an investment in another platform, as well as the ongoing maintenance with it, but there are lots of us who would gladly pay to add WorldMate to our Android devices.

Iphone is yesterday with its limitations caused by Steve's arrogance. Android is tomorrow and you'll be late if you dont' move now! I have moved frpm Apple already and will move from Worldmate too if nothing happens here.

you really need to get moving on this. Motorola's Milestone/Droid is taking Android into the business arena, more so than even the iPhone, and that's where a properly integrated journey planning tool really makes its money.
If you're not there, you're going to get left behind.

An Android app would be on my wishlist too. I've just tweeted this. Suggest you add a tweet too - to @worldmate

Another plea for an android app!

I'm also interested in Worldmate for Android. I've useed it on a Blackberry for years, but I also have a Droid, and am looking for a travel app that will work on both. So far I've found TripIt and Trip Case, but both can;t hold a candle to Worldmate. Please tell us you are working on an Android App. Thanks.

I have let my Gold subscription expire and will not renew it until there is an app for Android

Why won't you people at least do your customers the courtesy of responding? It's one thing to have a business strategy that may not include Android. It's another to completely ignore these myriad requests without even having the decency to respond.

TripIt sucks compared to WorldMate as an application. But their responsiveness is light years better. Are you all so arrogant that you won't even let us know whether or not there is a time frame for WorldMate for Android?

Sheesh!!

I to would like to see a World Mate app for the Droid. I loved it on my Blackberry but now I have a Droid and find I can do so much more with the Droid than I could with the Blackberry and with a bigger screen. Please make a app for the Droid. Nothing out there compares to your app. Thanks

I was a WM Palm user. Now I am a WMless Android user. :(

Just switched from BB Curve to HTC droid by Verizon and loving it. Please make WM for Android!

Glad to hear about the upcoming android app. I've been using Tripit for the last few months on the Moto Droid and I can definitively say that Worldmate is better. Can't wait for it - I'll switch back immediately.

Android is by far the best operating system for cell phones. Symbian is not all that bad, but Bada is!- R.B.M.

Thank you very much for sharing this knowledge.this graph really conveyed the part which i was looking for.

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