AppForge ditching SMB's!

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I have been using AppForge since version 1 for both Palm and later Pocket PC development when that line was introduced. AppForge is now up to version 5 and sadly, they have decided to cut ties with small to mid size businesses (SMB) as they have been unable to profit in this market (assumption) and have targeted the enterprises with high price programs.

As the years with AppForge progressed, developers (VB6) enjoyed using AppForge to bridge their applications to the Palm platform. Although slow running applications with their runtime environment (still today), it at least opened the doors for us. Developers complained about AppForge branding by requiring the separate install of their Booster (runtime) and requiring customers to later go to their web site to purchase Booster for the Pocket PC. Version 4 of AppForge finally allowed Booster to be bundled with the applications deployed for the PDA's and we (developers) were finally relieved that we could deliver one installation that would be easy on our users and not require them to chase down files and pay yet even more to get their purchased applications to run. We told AppForge early they were not going to succeed in this "royalty" structure of having customers purchase Booster, however, it looks like AppForge has taken a turn for the worse with their CrossFire version (aka MobileVB version 5).

I was shocked to learn (from my customer) that as of December 1st, AppForge is taking down their Booster page where customers can download the updated Booster runtimes for their devices. Now AppForge is cutting all ties with the small developer businesses and charging developers $3,000 to use their product under what they are dubbing their "ISV Program." I posted a message to their 100% moderated forums earlier in the week inquiring about the Booster page coming down December 1st, it was moderated and the admin informed me I would be contacted by a sales rep! Why current AppForge developers were not informed of this change is unknown. Finally, today I received my call after informing the forum mod I have yet to hear from anyone and was shocked with the information (attached is what I received by e-mail after the brief phone call).

I have had conference calls with AppForge in the past and they seem to continue to struggle on how to make this business profitable. I advised them today that they are going in the wrong direction cutting ties with the larger part of the market, yet they replied that last quarter was their best. They stated how their application offers the most UI rich development platform when I reminded them that VS.NET 2005 is going to pretty much sink their ship, at least on the Pocket PC (Windows Mobile) side. They responded "well, it's not here yet."

I've included the documents I was e-mailed today for those interested. I guess it's time for us VB'ers to find another solution for Palm OS development while I am confident Pocket PC development is best fit with the compact framework, especially with VS.NET 2005 on the horizon.

For those using AppForge (MobileVB), you better check your future and see what AppForge has failed to inform you about coming 1 December 2004.
 

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  • ISV Pricing.pdf
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  • ISV Program Guide.pdf
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Well well well, with no notification to any of its ISV partners, such as my company who pay a significant amount of money every year, AppForge is DEAD! I went to their web site today and it comes up Oracle, it appears AppForge was acquired by Oracle, but there is internet chatter that there are no plans to have the AppForge toolset live on! Amazingly, I just paid an exorbatent amount of money on March 5th to renew our ISV licensing and not 10 days later did AppForge close down and fall off the planet, again, no notification to the customers, etc.!

It's a shame as AppForge was a great answer to VB'ers for developing Palm OS applications. Because AppForge alienated their customer base by charging $25 for essentially every device that used their software, the Pocket PC'ers jumped ship for the .NET Compact Framework. They attempted to get into the BlackBerry market with their Java tools, well, that obviously didn't work!

So now I'm trying to figure out what the future holds for VB developers programming for the Palm OS!!!
 
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