Interesting from Apple’s earnings report

Reading through Business Insider’s review of yesterday’s earnings report and how the iPhone accounted for under 50% of revenue for the first time, I wonder whether the following could change the current stance on a FileMaker Go for Android:

So if Apple wants these categories to keep growing and even supersede the iPhone in terms of revenue, it still needs to keep selling iPhones or make a serious effort to reach Android users.

Cook didn’t have much to offer in the earnings call when asked by an analyst whether Apple would come up with services that didn’t rely so much on the iPhone.

“We have other products where people are purchasing things,” Cook responded. “They’re watching Apple TV. We offer Apple Music on Android, and so there’s a series of things that are outside of that. And so we’ll see what we do in the future.”

I’m not sure how this would change anything. Today, FMI’s answer to the “native for Android” is “That’s not on the roadmap. Web Direct is the way to go for this.” Personally, I don’t think FMI wants to market that product, but Apple is holding them back.

I think FMI does not want to market that product, regardless of what Apple thinks of it.

If I look at what FMI is doing, it is about having fewer products, not more (aside maybe from the licensing side where they have been very creative over the last few years):

  • They removed “Pro”, making “Pro Advanced” the only desktop product.
  • Prior to that, they killed Bento.

I mean, if they were to get additional resources for it, fine. But if not, adding this to the mix would likely be drawing away from the resources elsewhere. Possible outcomes:

  • Can’t wait for feature X to be in the next release? Wait some more, development effort is now spread across one more product.
  • Still find bugs in the product? Expect to find more.
  • Remember how much time it took for Go to improve and get closer to the desktop’s feature set? Expect your shiny new toy to be lacking some of your favorite “why is this not supported” features.

I know it sounds awful to pass on the opportunity, but from my angle, Go is far from the lion’s share of what I see happening in terms of development. I’m not sure Android would make the needle move on my dials (your dials may be different). One thing I do not want is “paying” (see the possible outcomes above) a high price for something that I won’t use much anyway.

FMI’s only incentive could be to sell more licences.

I know Bento is a bad comparison, but I feel like:

  • Bento users did not convert to FileMaker (no licences for FileMaker)
  • Bento did not bring us consulting revenues (for those of us who were offering support, it was painful to get to know this product on top of FileMaker)
  • Can we expect the FileMaker platform would be further today had Bento not existed? I think so. I do acknowledge they were able to learn things they may not have been able to learn only within the FileMaker product (they started fresh, without anything that required backwards compatibility), but take the same hours and put them directly on the FileMaker platform: my bet is we would be further today without Bento.

I hope this all stays on topic and is not off topic too much. If so, please let me know. I’m sure we can move this elsewhere.

I don’t think that there will be an Android version of FMGo. For Android, either an app has to be developed using a different dev platform or when sticking with FM, WD.
While it is a legitimate item on the developer’s wish list, it may draw considerable resources from FM for Win and Mac, iDevice and WD.
I would rather like to have horizontal portals (developer’s looooong standing number 1 on wish list) than a struggling for-Android version.

Besides, the Apple ecosystem is a perfect fit for small organisations. The ease of use, security and easy maintenance makes up for the higher prices of devices. The only thing I can’t sell is unfixed bugs :neutral_face:.

All good points from you both.

Playing devils advocate for a minute, FileMaker’s income is now based on connections, not software sold.

With the majority of mobile devices on, mostly out of date admittedly, Android a huge market could be opened up, more revenue, more investment, more developers.

LiveCode have a (still in beta?) conversion tool that apparently will convert a FileMaker file to run on Android, so we should see how feasible this is. I understand they are (will be?) charging a license per user themselves for this.

unfortunately, live code did not manage it to show some real work, real product, live… I was disappointed as they show up at the German developer conference last fall

Xojo might be an alternative too - but the android version is not yet available AFAIK

While doing some testing with Xojo, filemaker still wins overall - with all it’s nuts and bolts…

It does not serve Android, I know - and would be so cool to have Android on board (even if the Android market would be not an easy market)
I’m with Torsten: Better to have some long-wanted features and bug fixes instead of getting a third platform with other flaky stuff

Let’s take the same statement and use a time machine to go back when FMGo was just starting (meaning when is was a PAID app from the app store). It reads: iOS a huge market could be opened up, more revenue, more investment, more developers. Then they made the app free. Adoption did increase, but to what degree?

I’ll agree that both FileMaker and the community do have more of those (revenue, investment, developers) with FMGo being part of the toolkit, but how does that increase compares to the magnitude of the iOS market? I’m not suggesting that FileMaker should not have developed a client for iOS and stayed on the sidelines, that would have been a mistake. But what was gained was more on the side of the product offering than the revenue / investment / devs combination. The product offering does have traction to convert people over, translating to revenue / investment / devs. Traction to the point we can say there is a “before” and an “after”? I don’t think so.

Now replace iOS with Android and my conclusions are the same.

For devs, the options are numerous and I don’t know anyone who can pretend to “keep up” with everything. We make choices because we feel comfortable with a product and past experience prevents us from the pitfalls that learning a new tool brings to the table.

FileMaker is not being taught in school, it is not an open source tool someone can just pick up and go to town with. Who do you know to be proficient with a tool, would convert to FileMaker based on a 45 day trial? The way I understand it, the 45 day trial is for business users. Not existing devs from other platforms, not new devs seeking a platform.

I doubt that someone who codes for Android would look at a native FM client on Android and leave their comfort zone to learn all the subtle and not so subtle differences FileMaker incarnates.

The same way, I doubt that people are staying away from FileMaker because it does not have a native Android app. Agreed, we don’t have the selling point that says “runs natively on Android”, but if that is the one and only thing that keeps someone away from FileMaker, that sounds to me like it is because the solution they have to connect to is not a solution they “need” (it does not bring enough value, if the value was there, they would already be users, using FileMaker the way it is today).

Maybe we will get to see if that gamble pays off for Xojo? That said, I have 2 things to say about that:

  • I recall of windows users complaining about their version lagging behind because of progress going on iOS / MacOS
  • Will you jump ship if Xojo’s product offering becomes more Android friendly?
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  • Will you jump ship if Xojo’s product offering becomes more Android friendly?

A lot of thought going in there Bobino. The thing is we’re a business with ambitions, hence to answer your question: ‘it depends on whether there is something better out there’.

At the moment, our fully managed FileMaker SaaS model is working for us and we’ve seen a big increase in turnover and profit over the last 3 years. However, we are coming up against industry specific solutions that are challenging our slightly more generic solutions. We’re not aligned to any one industry, hence if someone is targeting only that one industry, we could lose a customer (we’ve recently lost our biggest customer who setup their own software company to effectively rewrite our system that took them from paper and spreadsheets. We’ll miss the money, but to be honest they were getting too big for us anyway and we refuse to have all our eggs in one basket, which we were close to at the financial collapse in 2008!).

However, in more than one industry, the dedicated systems usually come with a mobile app as standard and our clients are now asking for them. We may even have to develop these for free to retain the customers we have. As an aside, our SBA licenses prevents us from customising a product for a single customer, but the competitors are offering a full customisation service (different subject, so I’ll not expand on this).

Mobile hasn’t been a big issue for us until now and, although our first big iPad project is using FileMaker Go, all interaction with the (FileMaker) server is via APIs and JSON, hence it need not necessarily be FileMaker Go. So there is nothing really stopping us having an Android client that is not anything to do with FileMaker. At this point, there could be a temptation to evolve that route away from FileMaker as a whole and opt for a more generic SQL solution. Or not.

Personally, I think FileMaker need to come to a conclusion as to whether their customers are professional developers or the smaller form/list type customers from the past. All recent releases and the pricing structure would indicate the former, as products like Zoho are targeting the latter.

It’s going to be an interesting ride over the next few years as more and more competitors move into FileMaker’s space and, again only my opinion, we ignore any platform or competitor at our peril.

Thanks for your contributions to this.

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You are right, for someone who provides an off the shelf solution, Android opens up a big market. Since I don’t sell a packaged product, our perspective is different.

My opinion on this: FileMaker will keep adding features for the pros, as long as it is not done at the expense of making the product harder to understand & use for the less technical savvy ones.

@AndyHibbs Where do you draw this conclusion from? Do you also think a fair number of solo developers will go into retirement, leaving their customers looking for a new service provider?

To clarify: I don’t think FMI ignores Android, I simply believe “there just so much that can be done about it” if FMI wants to keep the quality in the rest of its lineup. FMI’s position seems to be that web direct is a good enough band-aid for that problem.

My opinion on this: FileMaker will keep adding features for the pros, as long as it is not done at the expense of making the product harder to understand & use for the less technical savvy ones.

My opinion on this is that the expectations are now too high. Users receive next to no training and don’t stick in one job for long. The days of developing a solution where you use the layout drop down to swap between layouts, get users to go in to layout mode and pop a list or summary report are (in my experience) long gone. We’re developing fully functioning applications now, not a series of layouts or replacement for Excel.

Where do you draw this conclusion from? Do you also think a fair number of solo developers will go into retirement, leaving their customers looking for a new service provider?

A valid point, as some will, but that wasn’t the message I was trying to convey. Look at the surfacing software from Zoho, Xojo, Airtable, Tadabase, let alone products being released by Microsoft and Google. Also, watch the big boys move down towards the small business market once they’ve saturated the large corporates.

To clarify: I don’t think FMI ignores Android, I simply believe “there just so much that can be done about it” if FMI wants to keep the quality in the rest of its lineup. FMI’s position seems to be that web direct is a good enough band-aid for that problem.

We’ll see, which was the point of my original post - LOL!

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