Hello and Goodbye, Spanning Sync

[UPDATE] I’m now using the new Plaxo 3 to sync between iCal and Google Calendar. Working fine so far.

As I’ve recently found it extremely hard to share my schedule with our team and other people who need to know where I’m spending my time, I figured out it would be easiest to just share my calendar with them. As it stands, Google Calendar is by far stretch the best solution for this. Everyone (I mean, everyone) has an account and sharing a calendar in GCal is a breeze. However, I don’t want to use Google Calendar myself, I prefer iCal. I can sync it with my mobile phone and use wherever I am, regardless of whether I’m online.

Given these needs, a couple of weeks ago I started looking for a syncing solution between iCal and Google Calendar, and stumbled upon Spanning Sync. It seemed like a perfect solution — very unobtrusive, doing its magic on the background and only interfering with my workflow if there ever was a conflict. The software was in beta stage but worked still very well.

Last week, I discovered the first problem with Spanning Sync. It would (seemingly) randomly crash saying that the sync failed. I habitually dismissed the error messages a few times until I noticed that the crash was actually not a real crash at all. The problem was that the beta version had expired and I had to download a new version. And that was told me with a crash report. No automatic download of the new version. No button to download it. A crash report.

Well, this was still beta software, so I just commented on it in the Spanning blog and moved on. Now in Chicago, the same thing happened again. Again, a few dismissals before it crossed my mind that I was meant to download a new version. This time, it seemed, they had reached 1 point oh. Great! The homepage had a link to download a 14-day free trial version, which indicated that the actual software would cost something. OK, that’s fine, I’ll happily shell out 5 or even 15 bucks for such a nifty app and to support indie developers. However, there were no link to actually buy the application, so I headed back to the blog.

The blog post announcing the 1.0 version revealed the ugly truth. Spanning Sync costs $25 a year or $65 as a one-time payment. My first thought? What. The. Fuck? Almost double the price of TextMate, which is pretty much my most important tool that I use for hours every day. The 93 comments on the blog post reveal that I’m not alone with the sentiment. A quick scan didn’t reveal a single comment that defended the pricing (except the ones from Spanning Software).

Too bad a promising software is bitten by such notoriously bad pricing. A simple sync app just isn’t in the ballpark of $65. It’s not about how many people would be able to pay it, it’s about how many think the app is worth it. I highly doubt very many will. This comment by DV pretty much sums it up:

$65 X 18000 = $1.17 Million …. nice dream
$65 X 180 = $11,700 …. reality
$20 X 200,000 = $4 million …. sweet spot