That's right folks the rumors are true, my favorite Mac application has been bought by NewsGator, a RSS juggernaut. NewsGator offers several news readers, a Windows client, a web client, a PDA client, and now a Mac client, that all use the NewsGator API to sync; read a story in one NewsGator app and the rest know that you've read it.
Brent Simmons, developer of NetNewsWire, cited users' desire to able to sync their subscriptions across devices and platforms as the driving force behind this decision. Brent will be joining NewsGator as a product architect to continue work on NetNewsWire, though he will still live in Washington state.
What does this mean for current users of NetNewsWire? Registered users will recieve a 2 year premium subscription to NewsGator's services (which now include NetNewsWire). Users of NetNewsWire Lite will be happy to note that NewsGator plans on continueing development of that product as well.
Users of other Ranchero Software titles, most notable MarsEdit, face a less certain future. Since NewsGator acquired NetNewsWire and not Ranchero as a whole they do not plan to offer MarsEdit, though efforts are being made to find a home for them.
I had the opportunity to ask Brent a few questions about all of this, and he was nice enough to answer them. More after the jump.
Q: Thanks for taking the time out to answer some of my inanne questions. Does this acquisition mean that there will be a new version of NNW very soon? Will it be 3.0, or a dot release?
A: There will be a new version in the coming months and it will sync using the NewsGator Online synchronization platform. A decision on the version number has not been made.
Q: I know many fans of NNW feel a connection to you and your wife, Sheila (or perhaps I am just a freaky internet stalker), will Sheila be joining NewsGator as well?
A: Sheila will not be joining NewsGator. She's looking forward to using NetNewsWire as other people get to use it!
Q: How does it feel to move from being an independent developer for so long to working for a company that isn't yours?
A: Well, first of all, let's rewind. I was an independent developer back in 1995 and part of 1996. Then I worked for UserLand from 1996 until early 2002. Many years. I remember, leaving UserLand, that I got all this email from people saying *goodbye* to me. I told them I wasn't going anywhere! And I wasn't. So the thing to know is that I'm still here, the same person -- and I'm still working on NetNewsWire.
Being an independent developer is a great, fun, fantastic experience. It's thrilling.
But it can also take up all your nights and weekends. The more success you have, the more users you have -- and the less time you have for programming. Most people, even other developers, forget about this, or can't really imagine the scale unless they've been there.
The biggest thing is that you have a responsibility to your users -- they support you by buying your software, of course, but also by providing great feedback and great moral support. Mac users totally root for you if you treat them well and with respect.
But this responsibility also means recognizing when you need more resources. Sheila and I could have stayed an independent developer team forever, but NetNewsWire users deserve a product with more resources behind it. And I want to give them the features they keep asking us for -- better syncing and syncing with newsreaders on other operating systems and devices.
Q: NNW was certainly Ranchero's big ticket app, but what of MarsEdit? Will I have to use something else to update my blog? Don't make me cry, Brent.
A: Decisions have not yet been made regarding MarsEdit, BigCat, Huevos, and TigerLaunch. I don't want to make anyone cry! But that brings up the point exactly -- the users (you!) are what's important.
Q: Does this mean there might be a Windows version of NNW at some point?
A: Check out FeedDemon!
Q: Is this all a plot to turn NewsGator into a Mac only company?
A: Of course! Which is just another step in my scheme to turn the entire world into Mac users. ;)
Q: What is the one question you wished I had asked, and the answer? :)
A: "Will you still write inessential.com?"
Yes! I started my weblog in 1999, when I was working at UserLand. I continued it when I went independent, and I'll continue it now. (I'm not the only NewsGator blogger, by the way: see also Nick Bradbury and Greg Reinacker I wouldn't be surprised if there are others I don't know about yet.)
So there you have it folks, NetNewsWire will continue and hopefully only get bigger and better with this deal.