Well Things Just Got Interesting
A recent update to the popular MobileRSS application was inappropriate. It appeared to be an almost identical one-to-one clone of another application: Reeder.
Inspiration and imitation are a natural part of competition, especially in a market as tight as news readers. But in this case, I personally felt that MobileRSS went too far. As a solo developer, I rely on app sales to support myself. A lot of other iOS developers do the same, including Reeder. We simply don’t do things like this to each other.
As a result, I have decided to disable MobileRSS’s API key for the time being. This is not an app that I would like ReadItLater to be a part of in its current form.
Nate Weiner of Read It Later condemns MobileRSS because they’ve blatanently ripped off Reeder’s unique user interface, but at the same time offers his apologies to his customers who use MobileRSS as their utility of choice. While he regrets disabling a major function of MobileRSS, Nate honorably offers to offset the cost of this inconvenience if his customers feel their service has been disrupted. It’s a shame that a developer in our own community has had to take such a stance thanks to the actions of another, but good on Read It Later for stepping up and simply saying, “No.”
After speaking with a number of other developers, including Silvio from Reeder, I’ve decided that the best thing to do is re-enable MobileRSS’s API key. The developers who made MobileRSS have a number of other apps with Read it Later support (on Twitter, iPhone and iPad). I’ve discovered that all of these apps use the same API key so disabling it unfairly affects an enormous number of innocent Read It Later users using the developer’s other apps.
While the intentions were good morally, business is business. Ultimately I agree that it’s up to the end user to decide whether or not to support an application that has unfairly (and blatantly) copied the user interface of a competitor, though I applaud Read It Later for bringing awareness to the situation. I find it interesting that Silvio Rizzi of Reeder understood the financial implications and felt that such a damaging proposition was unfair. Undoubtedly the developers of MobileRSS have enough to deal with considering this afternoon’s lash out against the company.