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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Hi Andy. I know this is an older thread (I just signed up today), but I wanted to highlight and support your quote above. I agree 100%. In my opinion, there are 3 or 4 options as far as deploying a FileMaker-backed mobile app.

  1. Native development with iOS or Android, using in Swift/Obj-C or Java/Kotlin, resepctively. This is somewhat slower than FileMaker development, but the feature set and performance are light years ahead of FileMaker Go. Native apps provide the fastest performance and no compromises.

  2. React Native can deploy cross platform apps, and they’re still compiled using (mostly) native UI objects. They’re a small step behind option 1, performance and feature wise. If you need to deploy to both iOS and Android and want the fewest compromises, this is the best way to go, IMO.

  3. FileMaker Go (and FIAS)

  4. Xojo, LiveCode, etc.: These are pseudo apps built using a proprietary IDE and language. The UX and feature set is pretty far behind what’s available in real iOS or Android apps. That may not be critical to your deployment, and that’s fine. Xojo and LiveCode can satisfy a demand for cross platform deployment, and I applaud their efforts in filling that need, but these apps can require a fair amount of compromise. In my case, more than I’m comfortable giving up.

A few years ago I took option 1. I opted to learn Swift and build real iOS apps in Xcode, with automatic sync, offline use, horizontal collection views, etc., etc. My primary example being the Art Con app – http://artcon.app. It has over 1K users and is backed almost entirely by the Data API. For anyone who has the time and aptitude to learn Swift (or Java, or React), I would point folks that direction if their priority is deploying zero-compromise mobile apps. All of the options are fine, just be aware of what you’re getting (and not getting) with each.

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What do you mean by pseudo apps ?

I can’t tell for LiveCode, but regarding Xojo, that tool compiled native apps for iOS among others. It has its own framework and its language is an OOP Basic. Xojo lets you create apps for many OS, but it doesn’t compile a single executable that’s run on all the platforms. You need to compile for each target. And when your target is iOS, then you can’t compile for any other target because the app is built using specific objects for iOS.

‘Compile-to-any-platform’ tools like Xojo are like using Xcode and UIKit if half of UIKit was ripped out of the framework. You could spent hundreds of dollars buying all of the available Xojo add-ons trying to close that gap, and still be left with a sizeable gap.

I don’t mean to pick on Xojo, these compromises are just part of the deal. To compile for all platforms, you have to boil down UI objects to their absolute base behavior. I’m not willing to do that, so I learned Swift and UIKit.

Today, if I needed to deploy to iOS and Android, I’d probably go with React Native. IMO, it has the best performance and feature parity with native (mobile) apps.

· · ·

Also exciting is Apple’s SwiftUI, released this summer at WWDC. By mid 2020, it will be standard to compile a single codebase for iOS, iPadOS, macOS, and watchOS. No more Xcode storyboards, ViewControllers, Auto-Layout hell, etc. :tada:

https://developer.apple.com/tutorials/swiftui/composing-complex-interfaces#compose-the-home-view

Apple calls it a declarative language. Instead of making specific UIKit calls to iOS objects like UITableView, UILabel, etc., you describe the UI using more generic keywords. Thinking more in terms of, "I need a list, using this datasource, left aligned, in a vertical stack". At a high level, it’s sort of like what Xojo is doing, without the associated compromises. I’m new to SwiftUI, but I plan to get my hands on it for my next project. :nerd_face:

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Just as a side note - I’d think VERY carefully before investing any money in LiveCode licences and technology. They have been trading under a voluntary agreement for nearly 4 years ago and their financial position doesn’t seem to be improving much. They are basically insolvent and only surviving due to the agreements reached with their investors to support them. That could change at any point.

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I followed some presentations, one live at Malbun 2018. They did not have functional demos there - what puzzeled

While very interesting at the times as they were at the HyperCard/SuperCard - tree (‘Revolution’), I could not get the point during the last 2-3 years

I tried to get clear in their licensing schema, but also failed (the free version I tried was too limited)

I bought then a pro license of Xojo (just to mention that I am willing to pay for tools…), never been sure that this is the ‘right’ thing; xojo is also an own ‘universe’ - but lets one create perfect starters for filemaker :crazy_face:

Looking at technologies which specifically aim to compile to cross-platform builds (e.g. LiveCode, Xojo):

  1. +1 to acknowledge to @bhamm’s point that this implies compromises.

  2. +1 to the idea that such compromises may be ok in certain scenarios.

  3. I really like the idea of having something that could compile this way for both iOS and Android devices.

Previously I had my eye on things like React Native.

Presently, I also have an eye on Flutter.

The overhead for me to learn a simple new language is small, so the fact that I’d have to learn Dart doesn’t inhibit me.

It boils down to fairly natural concerns (already mentioned elsewhere in this thread, I believe):

Will it allow me to build what I need to build, and will this technology be supported long-term?

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I have created a Web App in Xojo to replace We Direct. The reason was that licenses for WebD were to cost $ 55,000.00/year !!! This government agency couldn’t afford that, I was contacted by the FileMaker developer to create that Web App: I started with the WebDirect Layout that I was able to reproduce. The connection to FileMaker used a module from Tim Dietrich. That was very fast, the agency was impressed with the speed.

FileMaker does a lot behind the scene, things I needed to code in Xojo, for example loading contents of tabs only when needed. That needed some more time but the result was quite good !

Xojo does not make a lot of noise, they work on the product and sell it at a reasonable price. What you can do with it though is pretty extensive. Xojo is what VB could have been when transformed to VB.net.

@Markus wrote that Xojo is in its own ‘universe’, well that’s also true about FileMaker and Microsoft .Net.

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filemaker was the reason I mentioned the ‘own universe’ (-:
(fm is a small universe - the same for xojo)

While one is pretty fast using filemaker as a development environment and one can show results very soon to customers…
…when it comes to mass-licensing (by ‘mass’ I mean connections) for unknown users, fm is imho far away from reality.

I mentioned that in an other thread… we got a (webd-) project where ‘hospital’ users fill out forms. We live in a small country - but when we estimate about 100 concurrent users, licensing cost is about 25K per year, with 200 users 50K/a

At the moment, that forms-app is done via some web-app. Licensing cost about 27K per year (no users limit, the development cost was not included in the annual fee) - but those 27K goes to the developers, with webdirect all goes to fmi, the cost for the developers is not included…

That project is quite on the edge…

Here, plan-B is to create an app based on web-tools (ruby/-on rails, etc) that saves data to a fm server. If that thing lives for three years, there would be 75K (100 connections) extra for developing…

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FM’s current licensing scheme ‘encourages’ external (non-FM) development for n-customers web access.
However, even this will go through the metered data api. ERP vendor’s playbook.

Same situation my customer faced.

Exactly. To earn some money, you need to be an FBA for example. Just creating apps won’t do it.

I an other life I was working with an AutoCAD dealer. Business was pretty good. But one day things started to change. The fees - understand get access to NFR licences - were raised and Autodesk started to sell directly to customers and to even sell services. There were no place left for small retailers. Today the big retailers were sold to huge retailers.

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After hosting providers, developers are next in line. The licensing of the new ‘FM Cloud’ does not know the external developer with n customers. This is not an omission.