From the “It’s About Time” File: Now Software closes their doors | IT With IQ

From the “It’s About Time” File: Now Software closes their doors

. March 25, 2010 . 0 Comments

In order to set the stage we have to step in the way-back machine… way, way back into the days before OSX, before the iphone, before integrated handheld solutions and smart phones, before ical and even before apple’s address book. Back in these days there was even a version of Microsoft Outlook available for the mac. Yes, we’re talking that far back… In those days, the greatest productivity suite available for the mac contained a stellar address book with categories, keywords, notes sections, great functionality and great searchability. It was easy to use, easy to print out, worked with palm pilots, was intuitive and could be used by non-technical people with ease. It was cross platform. It could be easily shared across multiple computers all over the world. It was packaged with a top of the line calendar solution. The two programs were linked, and communicated with each other flawlessly. In those days it was knows as TouchBase Pro. Eventually it would progress, and find it’s way onto OSX in a very well thought out and extremely functional version. At that point they called the suite Now Contact/Now Up to Date (NUDC), and all was good.

Then came the big plan that would be their complete undoing… The Palm pilot was beginning its long, slow descent into obscurity (more on that in the next post), and the iphone was preparing to make it’s spectacular debut. Now Software knew there was a changing of the guard happening. They had a choice. They could take their existing software, and make it as good as 20+ year old code could be, putting band-aids on the flaws and trying to get a few more years out of it, or they could completely rewrite their one and only piece of software, and try to rebuild it and remake it strong enough to compete into the future.

They opted for the latter, calling the intended program NightHawk — like some second-rate superhero, but that wasn’t the mistake. The mistake was when they quickly pulled all their engineers and technicians off of day to day fixes for the existing NUDC Program, and onto NightHawk. This was a huge mis-step, because the existing software had many, many users… as well as many, many unresolved issues. This would have been fine if NightHawk was a 6 month or a 1 year project, but NightHawk would miss deadline after deadline after deadline. Years and years would pass as people waited for it’s debut. Apparently it was way more work to rewrite their program than they had intended, or else they got overly ambitious about what they wanted to do. At any rate, time passed by, and as it did all of Now’s competitors began to step forward.

With a skeleton staff at the old Now headquarters every problem they had ever had was being ignored, and their once vast client base began to look for better options. There had been a time when there were no better options. That’s what makes this story so tragic. NUDC was the premiere Personal Information Management solution for the Mac, and no one could do it better, but that’s the thing about the Tortoise and the Hare… slow and steady really does win the race, and if you get lazy and sloppy, and forget to take care of the clients you have while trying to broaden your client base, that damn tortoise is going to just slip right in front of you. And that’s just what happened. The iPhone was released, and NUDC had no way to allow synching for it, so they lost a few more clients. Then Leopard came out and their software wasn’t ready for it… more clients left. Then they missed another deadline and another and then… they finally showcased NightHawk, and released it for a private beta…. that lasted almost a year. Then there was a company called Daylite stealing some of NUDC’s luster and clientele and making great progress in synching their data with the iphone. Then there’s MobileMe, and the iPhone 3G, and Snow Leopard and even Microsoft releases a solid upgrade to Entourage, and one by one everyone else is getting themselves in position, and NightHawk is nowhere to be found.

Then the unthinkable happens… hell freezes over and Now releases NightHawk, but it’s woefully underpowered and flawed. It still doesn’t quite sync with the iPhone properly, and it’s no longer fully cross platform, and it won’t allow you to use it as server software that would enable you to deploy your address book and calendar across multiple machines. No one pays it any attention, it just lies there in the middle of the room, people clearing a path around it or stepping over it like some sad and pathetic dog turd that no one felt was even worth picking up and getting off the floor.

And yesterday, the news came… Now Software has closed their doors. It has been a long and tumultuous ride. I have personally spent hundreds off hours with their software, either working with it as my own database, or maintaining other clients who used it as their database. I spent hours to make it work exactly as it was supposed to in the good old days, and many, many, more hours fixing it as the inevitable slide began. After all of it I have to say you get what you deserve. You can’t take your eye off the ball in technology. You can’t put all your eggs in one basket and expect to just luck out, and thrive. You have to make smart plans, and even smarter decisions to get where you want to go.

Lesson learned.

Thanks for the good times Now Contact and Now Up-To-Date, and rest in peace…

MacWhisperer Out….

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