Will Shipley, creator of Delicious Monster and purveyor of Delicious Library, recently announced the launch of Golden % Braeburn, an in-app store that's used to power the Delicious Library purchasing system. It's supposed to compete with the likes of Google Checkout, Mac Update, Apple Store and the like.
The premise is easy; put your credit card into the app, instead of a web-based system, and we can do everything much easier. You don't even have to leave the comfort of the program you're trying to purchase!
This isn't actually as much of a benefit as you might imagine. For starters, most applications, next to the 'License' menu item, have a 'Buy' which opens up a page in the right place. The level of difficulty involves going to a different window, and putting your details in there. Hey, good apps even notice when you've got a license code embedded in the paste buffer, so merely switching back to the application is enough to register it.
The other benefit this gets is that you can print the receipt, save it as a PDF, mail the contents of the page ... you get it. I've got a number of software programs that I've purchased for some sites, and when I need to reinstall, I've got a handy folder which contains all my receipts. Not so for Delicious Monster; I have to use a screen grab (which DM doesn't have built-in) or some other way to record my purchase.
But the biggest problem, the real show-stopper, is that it just doesn't work. If you go and attempt to buy Delicious Monster 2, you get a message like "Cannot contact the store. Come back later." No matter how later you get, it still doesn't work. I raised this issue with the support, because having purchased DM1, I wanted to pay to upgrade to DL2:
May 27, 2008
I went to upgrade my Delicious 1.0 to 2.0, but when I go to 'buy license' it times out. I get a message back saying 'Open port 5175 and 5176' but there's no firewall in place that I know of (unless my ISP is in the way). Is there any web-based store I can go to instead to upgrade?
Like all good customer services, I got an auto-bounceback that says my e-mail has been received, and will get back as soon as possible:
May 27, 2008
Thank you for your message. We have received it and will get back to you as soon as possible.
You can check the status of your message at the following URL: https://delicious-monster.fogbugz.com/default.asp?32598_senmcmap
Please reply to this message if there's anything else we can do for you.
Of course, we all know what 'as soon as possible' means. It means we'll get to it once we've finished rolling around in the money that people who have been able to send it to us. A month later, once they're all back from vacation, I get this:
June 29, 2008
Sorry for the inconvenience, but the in-app store is the only way to purchase. If you can, try to get on a different network and try again, or use a different machine. You can use a license, once purchased, on any machine you choose. Again, my apologies for the trouble.
That's right. It's not the app's fault, it's my network. I have to change ISP to purchase this app. Being fair, this isn't anything new - I had to do the same with DL1 when it came out as well. I ended up going to a WiFi café to do the purchase, and it was the second one that worked. Of course, the real kick in the teeth is that there's no reason for any app, anywhere, to use anything other than HTTPS for this kind of work. If the purchasing mechanism had been available as a REST (or heck, even SOAP-based) API, then it would be trivial.
Will talked about the importance of getting customer support right, and getting feedback. He also talked about the importance of upgrades as a revenue stream. So here I am, waiting with $40 in a paypal account, and I've got no way of paying it. So I'm sticking with DL1. No doubt there are some new features in DL2 that I'll miss, but frankly it's not worth the effort involved.
So, my advice to any Mac developer thinking of using Golden % Braeburn is - don't. You get locked into a system which doesn't have any backup for when it fails, and the customer support aspect of it is questionable. They turn down known existing customers, and in fact early adopters as well.
I'm still interested in DL2, if a web store is opened, or if there's someone who wants to talk to me about other ways to get a licence.