iControlMIDIDesign Ends iOS Development, Says ‘Develop An App Of Your Own’

iControlMIDIDesign, creator of dedicated iOS synth MIDI controller apps is officially calling it quits:

Due to insufficient sales, we have to terminate this project.

We will not be releasing any new Apps.

Apple will automatically remove all our Apps from the App Store in 01/2013 as we will not renew our iOS License Agreement.

iControlMIDIDesign created dedicated iOS MIDI control applications for specific vintage synths, like the one pictured above. They were generally priced around $20-40 and no ‘lite’ or demo version was provided.

While it’s unfortunate to see a music app developer fail, iControlMIDIDesign might have benefited from listening to potential customers.

Reader Tim Webb, aka discchord, asked iControlMIDIDesign if they’d consider pricing their apps more affordably, and he shared the response he received:

Thank you for the advice (I already received a tons of emails with the same brilliant idea); so I’m going to give the same in-your-face answer.

Who are you? Do we know each other? Are the the CFO of a Fortune-100 software editor? Are you a Partner a KPMG? Do you have a MBA from Harward?

I’m going to give a VALUABLE piece of advice. If you do not like our Apps or its pricing; download XCode and develop an App of your own with the pricing you want.

iControlMIDIDesign says it’s keeping its apps in the App Store through the end of the year, but won’t guarantee that they will work with iOS 6, expected to be released this Fall.

47 thoughts on “iControlMIDIDesign Ends iOS Development, Says ‘Develop An App Of Your Own’

  1. I knew there was a reason I didn’t buy any of their apps. What an attitude! I’d considered buying several of them for various synths I’ve owned but the price was always a little high and the interface not that great. By comparison, Lemur and Touch OSC allow you to build your own custom control surfaces for as many synths as you like!

  2. Well, I AM a successful software developer, and let me throw in my two cents:

    1. These apps were little more than default dumps of parameters associated with controls. You could do the same with Visual Basic and a default “Organize Dialog Box” click in a dialog editor.
    2. Ignoring your customers’ desires is deadly. Who are you developing software for? If you’re a businessman, you should know that. This guy was simply masturbating into a compiler to feed his own ego.
    3. Responding to ANY potential customer in this fashion, especially in the age of the Web, is pure lunacy.

    It’s good to see a douchebag get his comeuppance. Good riddance.

    1. I would want this for the ensoniq sq-80, which uses lots of sysex and would be very cumbersome to program via touchosc. they made an editor for the esq-1 (which is similar to the sq-80) but the price restricted me from giving it a shot. anyway, there is some weight to what they were trying to do and i wouldnt totally discredit them.

  3. Wow, someone punch that guy in the dick, what a douche. I will now drink a shot of whiskey in honor of his demise.

  4. Bwaaaa, an IOS app that costs more than 5 bucks, this is horrible! We IOS users expect every apps to be available for real cheap, have every features imaginable, must be compatible with every devices and must be updated for life for free.

  5. Yeah, I can’t tell you how often I hear this rant from failing business owners. The world is the problem! If you don’t have a phd, shut up!” Well, this country bumpkin has enough pig-sense (is that a thing?) to know that if your app sales are a lot lower than your competitors and your price is a lot higher… perhaps you’re doing something wrong. What was the old Steve Martin joke? something like “… I’ll do a show and just sell one ticket for one million dollars!” Tim’s just less funny than Steve.

  6. Wow. After reading that response, all I can say is: What a dick.

    Sorry for being crude, but that is an unacceptable way to do business. Customers come first.

    After receiving “tons of emails with the same brilliant idea,” you would assume he figured it out… guess he was too busy being angry to take his head out of his ass.

    1. Right on.

      Too many in management never track complaints to the point where they have no ideas what feature and products their customers need.

  7. This is the exact problem with music technology and the US business scene in general.

    NAMM businesses think they have the right to your future business even when they poorly support today’s product.

    And the fact is that NO PERSON with a Harvard MBA would buy a product like this with the kind of support attitude like that and generally Harvard educated people are smarter with their money than to spend 30-50 bucks for a mono-tasker app that doesn’t even do different synths like Galaxy did so many years back. If someone he graduated alongside isn’t going to buy it and he has no respect for those “below” him, why is anyone surprised he’s going broke like he deserves?

    I have seen Harvard’s electronic music studio. It was nothing as good as Berklee or Brown. But even I know that Midi apps with minimalist interfaces like this are nothing to set up. I’ve done them as slider macros for Performer and Vision on a macplus. Maybe you have to look up a little Hex code and do some counting on your fingers. Big Deal.

    But also this attitude that because you were one of the luck suckers to get to a good school on legacy, you deserve success without adversity AND deserve to sell to only high end clients is so amazingly apparent that this comes out as stupidly counter intuitive against any of Adam Smith’s principals from the Wealth of Nations and laughable. High-end customers deserve service with some humility.

    It is the kind of thinking that will get you laughed at by Capitalists and consumers the world over.

    As a personal note, If it was one of the people from the company who came to the AHNE 2011 Synth get together in Lowell, MA, I can definitely see why the product didn’t sell that day. The person there to demonstrate this product was not a good salesperson and their presentation left something to be desired. So either an MBA from Harvard teaches you nothing about how to deal with people while selling or it teaches nothing about dealing with people when you are hiring.

  8. Pfft, I only went to a state university but even there they will teach you about “elasticity of demand”. What an idiot. Oh, and maybe you want to put a little more effort into your design than just using stock widgets out of interface builder?

    Seriously, that “if you don’t like it code your own!” attitude may fly in the open source community which is filled with autismal dickheads and bitter nerds but when your customers are the artists and aesthetes who use Apple gear maybe you should get some improved communication skills.

  9. also when i tried to get my money back for a non functioning app all the guy had to say was that even if i reveiwed his app negatively he could just delete it and re-submit it to void the bad feedback. what a a hole.

  10. I had a less dicky interaction with this guy. I suggested having the app actually show which settings are currently on the synth, so you weren’t flying blind. He said that that was hard to do and a lot more work. It didn’t seem like he was interested in the app getting better. So I’m still out a decend midi editor for my Evolver on my iPad. He did offer a refund, which I didn’t take him up on.

  11. Lawlz… I’ve never “liked” so many comments in a row… Glad to see we can all agree on how absurd his response to the customer was. Hope he’s reading these comments. Hey! If you’re reading this….. F.U.

  12. I happen to be both a software developer and an ios developer. Im also a musician and have a phd from one of Europe’s top universities. I fail to see how that makes me better placed to respond then the guy that responded to this idiot with regards to a tool for making music. Just because someone hasn’t coded something in xcode or written a similar product does not mean they arn’t qualified to give you helpful advice or consumer feedback when they feel let down by something you created. I have no idea how a combustion engine works but if they are asking twice the going rate for a new car and im not even convinced that it actually brakes when it gets to a junction, im not going to buy it ! Sounds like someone deserved to go out of business with that attitude.

  13. He’s just another maladjusted programmer nerd with no social skills and a tragic over-abundance of self-worth. If he’d put his fat ego to the side, and listen and learn from others, he might actually have made a successful product. Oh well.

  14. I’ll help him with what could have been the proper response:

    “Thanks for the feedback. Yea, this has been a rough ride for me. I knew I wouldn’t sell specialized software like this in the volume of something with more universal appeal. Each app has limited appeal but takes many hours to design & debug. I’m now realizing I either price it too low and lose money, or price it too high and lose money. Oh well, live & learn I guess. Thanks again for the advice. Much to think about.”

    Wouldn’t that have been cool? Alas.

  15. I actually considered some of these apps when I purchased an iPad2 last year but I’m glad I didn’t.

    The interface is bare bones, the “demo” videos on YouTube look like they were done by an 11 year old, and the price was hopelessly optimistic. I don’t mind paying for good apps: I plunked down $50 for the Fairlight Pro which is elegant, useful, and designed with some visual panache. $30 might have been reasonable for a “universal” app that controls a few dozen synths or $3 for a single synth one. But the present offerings at present prices? Pure wishful thinking on the part of the designer.

    If you can’t make it on margins you have to chase volume. I didn’t go to “Haward” but even I know that.

  16. This gentleman is a prime example of not understanding the most basic rules of any market economy namely: entry barriers to this market, supply & demand for this product and the amount of producers and customers for this product.
    His supply is unlimited, but the demand for his product is far from it. This will impact his break even point and ROI, but not by much, he should have examined the price elasticity of the demand for his product and figure out how much to invest in his product .
    This will have a direct impact on the price he can ask and or should ask, as of yet he is either an idiot or invested too much time and effort in it, since the product is prohibitively expensive. The amount of producers of the same product is not 1 (him being the only one), similar products are to be found that somehow do the same (maybe not as user-friendly, but still), this will have a downward effect on the price he can ask, more producers generally mean lower prices.
    The barriers to enter this specific niche are not that high, as some of you already explained, his “trick” is not that difficult to implement, this will have a downward effect on his price, ask too much and others will enter and do the same trick for less.
    The price elasticity should be high, for every raise in the price he is going to lose a lot of customers. And he did!
    The first thing he should have done is investigate, not guess, how many customers would have been willing to buy a product. What is in it for them? There should have been a large customer base waiting out there for him, but his prohibitive pricing fucked him over.. Again, the price elasticity for a single trick pony is usually high. Customers are very sensitive to price changes and as a consequence for high prices.
    Since there is are no network effect inherent to using his product ( more users makes the product more valuable like fax or email program) he is not going to be able to ask more than what the product is actually worth, maybe a buck or 5…..

    end of lesson

    btw; if you treat your customers like he did, you are doomed to fail, it shows how ignorant the guy is with respect to the rules of a market economy….

  17. Grand Opening, Grand Closing! The demand was there but his prices weren’t right. He had a cookie cutter style of app development. His presence in the app store Came off as a con-man.

  18. So at Haward they would spend 5 whole minutes teaching this:

    “How to fail on the iOS: 101”

    1 – Build a shitty app
    2 – Drastically overprice it
    3 – Be a dick about it

    The next class will cover “exit strategies”, and how you can ensure a future slinging fries at minimum wage.

  19. I have over 300 downloads of my “PhattyControl” for Lemur (iPad) which is FREE, but that means 300 people have a Phatty (little/slim), an iPad, and Lemur app, its built totally on user support both ways, mine to them and them to me, and it’s all done with a smile. I get the total investment to use my controller and want to make it as painless as possible, and I only have a BAS in audio science…
    How does Haward let anyone who can’t proof read an email response graduate with a MBA? And I guess graphic design wasn’t offered as part of the degree…

  20. I am an IOs programmer and can tell you these APPs are not even worth the title APP.
    They are a crude “one control fits all synths” approach. They don’t give you any idea how the synth is organised and what’s the best workflow to get to a sound fast. I could program this in a week if i had a midi implementation chart of a synth. Good riddance!

  21. Wow….although he wasn’t the douchebag he was to the guy in the article above…I did email him a request to make a controller for the Kawai K5….a notoriously hard synth to program but with a ton of potential. I have a K5m module that I told him I would personally hand deliver to him when I was in New York last year on a business trip and would pay for the shipping back to Florida if he needed more time to program for it. I would even be willing to pay 3 TIMES the going rate for his app for something that could make the K5 easier to program and manipulate in real time. He would not even respond to my offer to personally give him my module and pay for shipping or even pay more than the asking price. Oh well…….at least he is a text book case as how NOT to treat your customer or potential customers. He really needs to be locked away in a room and simply program for someone and never be allowed to interact with the customer. Any potential employer should now be aware of this fact.

  22. I think engineers, whether in software of hardware, tend to be brilliant with the engineering bit, but often too impatient when dealing with customers directly. When I asked a successful French soft synth maker for assistance while making a purchase in his web shop I was told that he would rather focus on developing new products than tinker with the blessed web shop code. I don’t like to twist peoples’ arms to take my money.

  23. Obviously all of the comments about his dickish reply and ignorance in pricing, etc., are spot on. That being said, the race-to-the-bottom pricing on iOS is challenging for any beyond the hobbiest/tiny shop type developers and the few who get big hits. It’s hard to sell an app for much more than a couple of bucks and many are at 99 cents. Say you’re a modest hit and sell 100K at 99 cents. Apple takes a third so you’re left with $66K. If you’re a 1 man team you can maybe live off of that. But if you’re a real team with a half dozen people you’d need to do one of those a month to survive. And that’s with no expense for marketing/PR, etc. I’d be really curious to see how many AniMoog copies were sold and how that’s panned out for them.

    1. I totally agree. When people start to develop an app they have to know, estimate, research and or ask other companies how big the market is, what the willingness of these customers is to try something new and how much the product locks them in. If you have total lock in, you can ask a little less or little more than the market price, or do a mix of them both (early adopters however are willing to pay premium, so you don’t want to kill off your own margins just yet).
      If you want, you can do a three tier product range, gold package, silver package and student. package This way you get all the potential customers at different price levels.

      Bottom line, you have to do a thorough SWOT analysis, a thorough investigation of the costs and a thorough investigation of the potential market.

      A sidenote, developing an iOS program is not easy, by far. However you can build upon the fruits of labor by others, it is an OO environment and a lot is possible when it comes to keeping the cost down.

      1. I agree 100% with everything but the gold/silver/student pricing. That approach only guarantees that you sell the gold level to businesses, and everyone else pirates the gold level.

  24. Anyone want to share tips about using sysex? I didn’t buy the apps, because interface is important too, but I’d love to have something for my Kawai K5000 and other synths and I can’t figure it out myself.

  25. I would have gladly paid say, $50 (or possibly more ) if it was a universal editor for all of the synths supported. But I couldnt stand buying them individually at that high price, so I never bought a single one despite being an avid synth freak and iPad owner.

    Had he done this he would have done well I’m sure, lots of people would have went for that, then he could have just kept adding more synths as free upgrades. It seems so obvious. But not for an ego maniac like this I guess, who grossly over values his own skill.

  26. I think Mr. Harward is trolling this comment site too. There are a crapload of comments with thumbs down for no reason.

  27. I bought his Evolver editor. Never worked properly and his support was garbage. He ignored a number of questions I asked and said I should have read the fine-print before I downloaded the product.

    His attitude is as bad as his product.

  28. Week late to the party but as someone mentioned, his stuff was worse than what we had with Galaxy two decades ago. If someone made a Galaxy+ workalike I would pay $50 for it. Hell, I would even if it only supported the synths Galaxy did! There isn’t anything that’s close even on the desktop side, to get near it on a tablet would be a dream.

Leave a Reply