Why Smile is a Great Company

Smile logoLast week the company Smile announced big changes to their software TextExpander that were not well received by their customer base. Smile co-founder, Greg Scown, was my guest on Chit Chat Across the Pond to talk about it. Before he came on the show, I decided to send him my outline of what I would be asking. In that email I explained that I was planning on being hard on him, and challenging their new direction. I told him that while I respected him and his company, I had serious problems with their decisions. After reading my email, Greg still agreed to come on the show.

When we finished recording, as hard as I was on him, he actually thanked me for having him on the podcast. After the podcast aired, I got a lot of kudos for not going easy on him. The sentiments against their decisions were nearly unanimous. Out of probably 50 comments on the blog, Facebook, G+ and Twitter, only two people who responded were in support of Smile’s decisions.I made a point at the beginning of the recording to say that Smile is not a sponsor. I did that to make sure everyone knew it was an unbiased interview. Pointing that out had an unintended consequence. I got feedback saying I was a much better podcaster/reporter because I didn’t pander to Smile in my interview, and suggestions that other podcasters fell short.

This made me do some soul-searching. How would I have conducted such an interview had it been Bluemango Learning, makers of Clarify and ScreenSteps, who had misstepped according to popular opinion? Could I have been unbiased and tough on them? I suggest to you that I could not. I think at best I would have posted saying something to the effect that I shouldn’t comment because it would be biased. I would like you to consider that when judging other podcasters who do have Smile as a sponsor. No pedestal is warranted for Allison here, ok?

Now let’s get back to Smile, because I want to sing their praises. A company that never makes a mistake is a wonderful, but very rare thing. A company that makes a takes a misstep with their customers and then changes their direction because of overwhelming customer feedback is perhaps almost as rare.

Textexpander logoThis week Smile, because of the feedback they received from so many of you, decided to continue selling their standalone version of TextExpander. They recognize now that a pretty loud percentage of us do not have a desire or requirement to share our snippets, and we want to keep our snippets encrypted.

They also recognized that the price hike to go to the subscription model was more than the perceived value to existing customers. Because of this feedback, they decided to modify their subscription pricing for existing customers to be a 50% discount for life, or $20/year, which is much more in line with what existing customers feel is the value of the product.

As of right now they don’t have encryption at rest on their subscription service, but I know that they heard this concern as well. I hope they will find a satisfactory technical solution to this but we’ll have to wait and see.

Before Greg ran the idea of these changes by me, I was preparing to give you a trade study of the alternative products to TextExpander. When he went public with the announcements, I deleted my spreadsheet and trashed all of the applications I had begun testing.

Smile has shown itself to be a company with leaders who have integrity, are willing to listen to their customers and even change their path given the right feedback. I feel good about having taken part in this process, and I remain a loyal and paying customer of Smile because of it. As Rose from Tasmania would say, “Good on ya, Smile.”

10 thoughts on “Why Smile is a Great Company

  1. Todd McCann - April 14, 2016

    I haven’t heard this interview yet, but I am so glad Smile backpedaled. Knowing their reputation, I kinda had the feeling that they would. Thanks Smile!

    While I am generally happy that they are continuing to sell the standalone TextExpander, I wonder how long they will continue to support it? In my experience, TE tends to get a bit weird if you wait to long upgrade after you’ve jumped to a new OS X. I guess we’ll see.

    For now I’m just happy to keep using TE5, but at least I know that TE6 is now reasonably priced if I ever need to upgrade.

    As for the way some podcasters are going easy on Smile, I had noticed that. Thanks for being so honest with your feelings about it, Allison. I’ll try to keep that in mind for the future.

  2. Jeff - April 14, 2016

    I absolutely loved the interview. Especially that you asked the tough questions and the ones I wanted asked. That this interview happened was something that surely made me respect the company more. A tough love interview for sure.

    The day they changed their plan to a $20 dollar subscription for current users I immediately signed up. The initial misstep was rectified and a good company realizes when that is so.

  3. Rush Sherman - April 14, 2016

    Well done.

  4. Topher Sorensen - April 14, 2016

    Great write-up Allison! I haven’t yet had the chance to listen to the interview, but I look forward to it. I’m certainly glad Smile did the right thing in this situation.

  5. Evan - April 15, 2016

    Kudos to Smile. I hope this works out for them.

    I would love to see them add a choice in TE 6 down the road (perhaps a setting in the preferences):

    – “sync with our sync service”
    – “sync with Dropbox/iCloud, but lose sharing features”

    If they’d add that ability, I’d sign up in a heartbeat at the new subscription upgrade price, partially just to support the company/product on an ongoing basis.

  6. Doug Blunt - April 15, 2016

    I agree with you Allison .. I have been working with Smile on the some of the bugs on Windows beta . They are always professional and helpful.
    Good Job to you and everyone at Smile

  7. Allister - April 15, 2016

    One thing I did get from the interview was that if I were to upgrade to TE6, maybe I would start to look at how I could benefit from other people sharing their snippets, and that that might even increase my use of the product and therefore its value to me. But I never had faith it would increase the value enough to justify the subscription price.

    Now they’ve halved the price for me, I’m well and truly on the fence over whether to upgrade and the continued support of TE5 enables me to take my time deciding on that. The net result for Smile is they’ve retained me as a user. Whether they’ll get any more money from me is yet to be seen, but at least I’m not (as with Aperture) going to look to jump ship and get it over with.

  8. Frank - April 17, 2016

    I commend Smile for lowering the price, but my main objection against TE6 still stands. This is their move to the cloud. I agree with Evan, if there was an option to sync my snippets without their cloud I would sign up for that subscription.

  9. Allison Sheridan - April 17, 2016

    I agree, Frank and Evan. The nice thing is that they’ve given us some huge breathing room to have a supported, still being sold product, while we look over the fence at the subscription model and see if they can get us to come over some day.

  10. CJ HANSELMAN - April 20, 2016

    I just wanted to say I jumped on the $20 a year pricing because they have a working windows beta product that finally brings a enjoyable experience to my windows 10 machines. And when I sent in feedback about moving towards a universal product that would bring along android too they said its not currently in the works but that when the windows beta was finalized it would give them a leg up on considering android.

    I welcome software that can transition with me as I find myself on any mainstream platform and allow me to gain productivity everywhere. That to me is worth the yearly investment. Thanks Smile and Thank you Allison for voicing the concerns so many had directly and giving Smile a platform to respond.

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