The Demise of Transmit and the Future of Pro Level iOS Apps

A few days ago Panic announced their decision to stop development of their popular file sharing app for iOS, Transmit. This news is not surprising.

For a few years now Panic has made public statements about how little income they’re making off their pro-level iOS apps, and I really can’t blame them for pulling Transmit if it is losing them money.

What is even more upsetting is that an app of the calibre of Transmit for iOS is a financial failure and none of us are much surprised. There are so many iPads and iPhones out in the world. Granted not everyone will need a world-class file sharing app, but enough should need it that an app like Transmit for iOS can flourish.

If this were a simple problem, it would already be solved, but I think it is a combination of factors: hardware, operating system, software, and App Store climate.

Concerning those first two items, we’ve made a lot of progress. iPad and iPhone hardware is solid … and fast! The operating system made a lot of headway in 2017, and we’re all waiting for June to see if Apple is keeping the pedal down on making iOS more productive on an annual basis.

The problem right now is software and App Store economics. Put simply, there isn’t enough pro-level software for iOS. I’m sure there a lot of reasons for this but a big one is the race-to-the-bottom App Store economy. 

I use Transmit both on my Mac and iOS devices. I don’t recall what I originally paid for Transmit, but I believe it was in the neighborhood of $50. Since then I’ve upgraded twice so let’s say I’ve now given Panic $100 for the privilege of having their app on my Mac. 

When I bought Transmit for my iOS devices, I paid $10. That is it. I’ve been using the app for years and all the money Panic ever got out of me was $10, less than I’m going to spend today on lunch.

If iOS is going to continue to evolve, it will need more apps like Transmit, not less. It seems that Apple has taken some recent steps, including a change in management, to help make the App Store more developer friendly. I hope that bears fruit because, in my mind, software is the weak link right now on the iPad and iPhone and Apple should be doing everything it can to encourage the development of professional level apps.