iPad or Bust!

by Ken Case on January 29, 2010

One of the things we often struggle with as a company is deciding how much to talk about our future plans and our current work towards those plans.  Our natural inclination is to be open about what we're doing, but there are several problems with talking about future plans:

  • Our plans can and will change, upsetting customers who were making their own plans based on our original plan.
  • Our plans might interfere with current sales, as customers stop buying OmniGraffle 8 in anticipation of the future release of OmniGraffle 9.
  • We might get accused of promoting vaporware, as when we started talking about OmniFocus.

But there are also problems with not talking about our future plans, as it leaves people wondering what direction we're going and whether they'd like to be going that direction too.  So, given the exciting event of this week, I think it's appropriate for us to share some of our plans with you now…

Remember how Macintosh was intended to be the computer “for the rest of us”?  That's what we feel Apple's iPad is:  the best computing device for most of the things people use computers for.  (Or, as Apple puts it, “the best way to experience the web, email, and photos.”)  It's the computer people can sit down and start using immediately, without training, whether they're 2 or 92.

We're really excited about Apple's iPad, and we want to make all of our products available for it as soon as we can.  Yes, we already had a big year planned for 2010, with several long-anticipated major product releases—but we think iPad is really important:  important enough to spend some time juggling our plans to figure out how we can introduce five new iPad apps.

Yes.  Five.  We want to bring all five of our productivity apps to iPad:  OmniGraffle, OmniOutliner, OmniPlan, OmniFocus, and OmniGraphSketcher.

This is a big undertaking, and we can't do it all at once.  We started working on iPad adaptations of OmniGraffle and OmniFocus as soon as the SDK was made available Wednesday afternoon, and we're hoping to get started with OmniGraphSketcher for iPad within the next few weeks.

OmniPlan for iPad will be a little further behind, simply because the OmniPlan development team is on the home stretch of their two-year OmniPlan 2 development cycle, and we'd like to get that out the door before bringing OmniPlan to another platform.

Similarly, the OmniOutliner team is also heavily into a major development cycle—one which affects not only the next major release of OmniOutliner, version 4, but also the upcoming major releases of both OmniFocus and OmniPlan—so that team is booked up for at least the next several months.  But while it won't be on iPad on day one, OmniOutliner is where all of our projects start and we think it will be a great fit for iPad, so we plan to adapt it as soon as possible.

What does this mean for our non-iPad apps?  Well, for the apps we're bringing to iPad immediately there will be a bit of a delay in their next major Mac release cycle:  for example, while we've already done a fair bit of work on OmniGraffle 6 for Mac, we're going to put that work on hold while we work on the iPad adaptation.  Not that we don't think OmniGraffle 6 is important or exciting, but we think OmniGraffle for iPad is even more important.  For the other apps, OmniPlan 2 and OmniOutliner 4, we're hoping for little or no delay in our upcoming releases, but there's likely to be a bit of a pause immediately afterwards as the teams shift gears and start working on bringing those apps to iPad as well.

So, that's our current plan.  As I said in my introduction, our plans do change over time—obviously, they've changed quite a bit just this week!—so please don't rely on things happening according to today's particular snapshot of those plans.  But I hope that this snapshot at least gives you a sense of what we're doing and why (and perhaps even an idea of when), so you can decide whether we're going in a direction you're interested in.  Either way, I hope you'll let us know!

Thanks for your time!