Mike Swanson is an independent developer who in 2012 published an app called “Layout”, which lets you combine multiple photos into one. Fast-forward to 2015 and Instagram (which is owned by Facebook, don’t forget) publishes a new app that lets you combine multiple photos into one, and called it… Umm… Layout.
As you might expect, Mike is a bit annoyed by this and written a post outlining his frustration. Now when people search for his Layout app, they will invariably hit the Instagram alternative first – which could leave him out of pocket.
Here’s a quote from Mike’s blog:
“Look, I’m an indie iOS developer with apps that are nowhere near as popular as Instagram (or Facebook). I struggle to make people aware of my apps, as it’s my full-time and only job. I pour blood, sweat, and passion into my work; I consider it a craft, and delighting customers is my primary focus. I don’t expect anyone to feel sorry for me, because I’ve purposely chosen to be an indie developer, and I love what I do. Honestly, the struggle is part of the fun.”
“You might think I’d be happy that some people will inadvertently come across my Layout app and buy it, confident that they’re buying the Instagram app (actually, I first heard about the new Instagram app from an article that incorrectly linked to my Layout app). While I like sales as much as any independent developer, I don’t like sales that I haven’t earned. And I certainly don’t like sales where customers are confused. I’m sure I’ll hear from many who didn’t get what they expected, and that will lead to one-star reviews and refunds.”
So he’s taking it rather better than I would have (I’d have swore rather more).
Here’s hoping Facebook do something to make it up to him.