Wednesday, July 31, 2013

FileMaker Dumps Bento - Calamitous Catastrophe or Clueless Killing ?

May Bento Rest In Peace
Bento was murdered on Sept 30, 2013
FileMaker just announced it will stop selling Bento at the end of Sept so they can increase thier focus on the FileMaker product line.
"Bento for iPad, iPhone and Mac will continue to be available on the FileMaker Store, and the App Store and Mac App Store, through September 30, 2013. "
"We will provide technical support for Bento products through July 30, 2014."

For those like me who bought Bento hoping it would be made into a decent product, this is not much conciliation.
For a limited time, Bento licensed customers can download FileMaker Pro 12 for 40% off the full price.  Making it $179 !!!!

Failure to Connect

I think this failure is all of the above:
A Calamitous Catastrophe and a Clueless Killing.  
Here's why:

FileMaker Pro Sucks for Mobile Users

The killer app these days is a mobile one.  A mobile database MUST support offline use and synchronization to be worth a crap.  FileMaker Pro does not support synchronization - Bento did.  And they killed it.  Bento worked offline.  FileMaker Go (the mobile app) does not.  To make it work offline, they tell you to manually make copies of the database to all your devices, but then your data losses consistency and all hell will break loose.

FileMaker Pro and FileMaker Go not only do not support data synchronization across devices but also lack integration with other OS features.  They fancy themselves as offering a platform, but drop the ball on the essential features required to make it one.  And then tell customers that if you need sync you're on your own.  They have sooooo NOT owned this lack of a feature, that they've gone as far as to write a guide for customers on how to build their own !!!  Huh ??!!

Look, I come from a world of real databases and database products that deal with synchronization / replication and offer lots of flexibility to deal with the issues raised in FileMaker's build your own sync solution guide.

FileMaker Pro is Stupid Expensive for Consumer Use

FileMaker Pro 12 costs $299.  FileMaker Pro 12 Advanced costs $499.  Us screwed over Bento customers can get it for $179 for a limited time.  And it can't even do what Bento could do, and Bento for Mac only cost us $49.  Yes, yes... I know FileMaker does a lot more other things that Bento can't, but that's not the point.  FileMaker Pro is too expensive for consumer use and does not support essential mobile requirements, and they killed off the only affordable option.

Why didn't Bento work out ?

Cause FileMaker didn't care about it.  The updates were lame and far between.  They never did fix a ridiculous lack of feature in Bento - no support for rich text data fields.  Duh !!!  And I think maybe they are under the delusion that FileMaker is good enough.

I think there is a market for mobile database apps.  There are others out there.  But somebody needs to build one that does not have stupid limitations, is easy to setup and use, and doesn't cost a crap load of money.  Bento wasn't that, but it could have been.  FileMaker Pro is definitely not it.

The business and technical model is out there already.  Consider note taking and other apps that can sync through the cloud.  All the cloud drive apps and services.  And other Software as a Service (SaaS) offerings.  Someone needs to adapt those models for database apps.  And that won't be FileMaker apparently....

Update Aug 5, 2013
MacWorld also published an article on this subject, at about the same time as I did titled Lack of focus killed FileMaker's Bento.  I also agree with their take on why Bento failed.  Bento should have been more feature complete, offered a much better user experience and provided ready to go templates of database apps that people could actually use, so that if could compete against lower cost specialize apps.

MacWorld's article graphic
And BTW, MacWorld used a similar graphic in their article.  I guess great minds.....  ;-)

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