Vesper is being discontinued and here's why...

Vesper, the notes app by Brent Simmons, Dave Wiskus, and John Gruber, will be shutting down in the very near future. The reason, when you cut to it, is simple: Vesper didn't make enough money to support its ongoing development.

Brent Simmons, writing at inessential:

We at Q Branch just released the final version of Vesper. It does one crucial thing: it allows you to export your notes and pictures. See the new Export section in the sidebar.Sync will be turned off Aug. 30 at 8pm Pacific. We'll destroy all the data, and neither we nor anyone else will be able to recover it.The app will be removed from the App Store on Sep. 15. Until then, starting now, it's free — since you can't create new sync accounts, and it wouldn't be fair to charge new users if they can't sync.

John Gruber, writing on Daring Fireball:

iOS 7, in addition to looking all-new, introduced new architectural features like size classes. In the pre-iOS 7 era, building an iPad app was like building a second app. You could bundle it together with the iPhone version in a universal binary, but from a developer's perspective it was nearly twice the work. If we had started with iOS 7, we might been able to natively support the iPad from day one on iOS, so the actual schedule might have looked like this:

  • Build Vesper for Mac. Sell it for around $20.
  • Build a sync system.
  • Build Vesper for iOS 7, with native support for iPhone and iPad.
  • Maybe build a web version.

I'm a firm believer that you always need some good luck to succeed. We would have been luckier, timing-wise, if we had done the Mac app first, because we would have been able to build the iOS version for iOS 7 right from the start.

I used Vesper a lot. I enjoyed its style and sensibilities. I'm sad to see it go, both as an app and as an indicator of how hard it is to thrive with indie apps.

Apple Notes doesn't have the same aesthetic, but its ubiquity makes it an easy go-to if you're looking for a replacement.

Rene Ritchie
Contributor

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

24 Comments
  • This is why at times I have a hard time investing money into indie apps. Vesper looked great from the get go but I didnt want to invest into something that could go away. Having said that I do invest into apps that have had a great run like. Tweetbot and Twitterific.
  • Tweetbot and Twitterrific have had great runs because people were willing to spend $5 when they came out to support the product and its future. Most of us can't afford to spend $5 on any app that looks a little interesting, but if it's an app you really want to see succeed, consider that your $5 is a great way to help that happen.
  • I got tired of spending money on apps that were abandoned by devs or half baked apps that never came to what they could of been. Screens by Edovia for iOS crashed so often it was just sad. Then a new version came out and well Old Screens was left behind......24.99 very unwell spent. I ended up buying jump desktop now that was money well spent. I use to spend money on apps but now it more of wait and see how things pan out.
  • Yes I used tweetbot until it went to $9. That's just ridiculous. I barely use twitter too. I think i originally paid maybe $1.99 for it. Might have been a sale but yeah the price was crazy.
  • Investing money in apps? Put it in a savings account then? Please don't call it investing money when what you mean is investing time.
  • Who is anyone kidding? This was a vanity app and was pushed heavily by Apple bloggers who genuflect to Gruber, et al. General public didn't buy it.
  • This x 1000. Vesper had a nice typeface, and the general design was good, but that's about it. It didn't do anything new for simple note takers, nor was it powerful enough to be used as a Drafts (an app I'd gladly pay full price on a yearly basis for if necessary) or Evernote alternative. I treated Vesper like simplified Day One (another vanity app, imho) for not-so-regular journaling. Only reason I even bought it was because it was on sale for (iirc) $2.99 one time. Their regular price, even before they increased it, was way too high for what their app offered.
  • It's becoming more clear to many developers that if you don't have a platform ecosystem that ventures out beyond iOS you're in trouble. People are simply too ingrained with this belief that their smartphone is simply a $99+ tool that they should feed with free apps. Desktop/Laptop users have generally been the opposite. Free solutions exist but you know a good office suite costs money, good image editing apps cost money. What's going on in the mobile space regarding consumers and developers defies logic.
  • I did buy Vesper a few years ago and I liked how you could tag the different notes. I haven't used it through in almost a year. I found this out the other day when I updated the app and found it was ceasing to exist. I hadn't synced my notes onto my newest iPhone, which I bought last September. Sent from the iMore App
  • I paid for Vesper and I liked it from the get go, but these guys only have themselves to blame. There are other notes and writing apps from indie developers that continue to succeed. The reason for this is that they constantly improve their apps and they update them regularly. Vesper started out very basic, and that was part of the appeal to me, however there were some features that it needed and the app was updated so incredibly slowly and irregularly that it just could never gain traction.
    Every enhancement they made to the app which you can count on a couple of fingers took forever.
    If you don't evolve and bring features then you will be out done by your competitors.
    Vesper to me strikes me as an app that was a hobby for a couple of guys. Not a serious business venture and hence they were never going to make a success of it.
    I bought the app because of the possibilities. I never used it as my go to notes app because it never had the features I wanted from the get go. But I saw the possibility and I supported it because of the potential. So it's a little disappointing because I don't think they invested enough time and effort into it. Sent from the iMore App
  • Vesper was pretty much junk when I tried it. Too limited. This was never going to succeed no matter what came first or how you tried to price it for this type of app. However, I do agree more Mac focus should be done at first for this type of app. Mac is key for Apple and I hope they realize it. I don't care what is bringing home the revenue. The Mac is the heart of Apple.
  • Typo alert: The first and last instance of "it's" in the article should be "its". Also, there are far too many appearances of "get go" in the comments for the article. That's all for now.
  • IMHO, main problem is that it doesn't do anything that Evernote and OneNote don't do as well. That, and Evernote/OneNote are cross platform, accessible via Web, have many powerful tools built in (e.g. business card photo ->import to contacts) and is accessible anywhere from any device.
  • It's amazing to hear people having problems spending $5 on an app and then having no thoughts whatsoever on spending over that amount on a frappuchinno Sent from the iMore App
  • Because that Frappuchino is amazing and provides me with immediate and lasting satisfaction. Apps like Vesper are redundant and don't offer much over default options like Apple Notes or Free Options like Microsoft OneNote. The issue isn't just that it costs $5, it's that your'e paying $5 for something that isn't really that useful, because it is barely an improvement over what you get for free. It is also dependent on a proprietary sync service that causes your $5 to go practically to waste if something like this were to happen.
  • Not price. Value. I spend $7/mo on Evernote Premium because it's features bring me value that I'm willing to pay for. I pay money for other apps/services for the same reason: if I'm getting something out of it that's worth paying money for. Vesper didn't do anything that other free or competing paid offerings did that made it worth paying for me.
  • The comments above about this being a vanity app are right-on. When Vesper came out, it did nothing unique. A notes app... wow. There were far better apps available at the time. It didn't even include sync. Its "success" rested totally on the celebrity of its developers, and the insane amount of press they got from the friendly Apple blogosphere (which really didn't do its duty and provided overheated reviews, when they no doubt had to know it was a flawed product.). Based on the reviews, you'd have thought Q Branch had just cured cancer. Regular folks didn't buy it (figuratively and literally). Overcast is another example of a vanity app. It gets far more press than it probably deserves (compared to its competitors). But at least Arment has put a ton of work into it (and continues to), and has created an exceptional podcast app that I feel is worth the price. Gruber et. al. thought they could drop a notes app with a very limited feature set onto the market, tout relatively inconsequential aspects like its typeface, charge far too much for it for what it did, do the minimum in improving it (and then, nothing), and expect a windfall.
  • The comments are closer to the truth and answer the question better than the actual imore article.
    Even after failure, the blogs still offer Q Branch more press than they deserve.
    Liked the app, but really bought it to support Gruber and the gang. Sent from the iMore App
  • What was wrong with vesper? Nobody really needed another notes app.
    No syncing until much later
    Too late to the game evernote, simple note, and notes already did what vesper was trying to reinvent.
  • /Disclaimer - I work for a software company that offers both Open Source and paid Enterprise software./ WHOA! Backup There were at least FOUR articles about Evernote (hikes up prices, alternatives for Mac, alternatives for iPhone, switching to Apple Notes) when they tried to be profitable, but Vesper gets a requiem for NOT making money?!? WTF imore.
  • /Disclaimer - nobody cares.
  • Well Rene kind of has egg on his face now because I remember when Rene was pushing Vesper like it was the best thing since sliced bread. Maybe it was more the fact that it was his mates. There is and will always be space for a new app that does the same thing as others but sets itself apart in some sense. But if an app hardly ever gets updated. Maybe 2 or 3 times in its life cycle then it's going to fail. IA Writer springs to mind as a quality app that gets regular updates and also has a Mac version.
    For the person that said paying $5 is nothing and the Frappe-chino comparison. Well, if 80% of all Frappe-chinos were free or $1, then a $5 frappe-chino would seem like daylight robbery. It's all relative.
    I would be happy to pay twice that for the app, if it lived up to its promise.
    It's quite simple, $5 for a useless app can be a rip off and $100 for a great app can be cheap. Sent from the iMore App
  • Quite right, good analysis. It all comes down to the value proposition, and the fact that the value proposition can change over time as apps get updated. Since Vesper came out, other Notes apps were updated and offered more, particularly Apple Notes. Vesper didn't keep up, so down it goes. .
  • I can't say i knew anything about this app.