iPhone 3.0 and the End of Jott

For me, one of the best features of the upcoming iPhone 3.0 software is the ability to record voice messages for myself. This will totally replace Jott, which I decided a month or two ago to abandon after their recent — and asinine — decision to only offer voice recording to paying customers.

When it first debuted, Jott seemed to be useful. Unfortunately, it became clear over time that the text-to-speech conversion quality would remain low, particularly for the sorts of scientific ideas I would most want to take note of. Because of the terrible conversion quality, I would have been just as well served by a tool that merely recorded my voice and forewent the futile attempt at producing text. Since June of last year, I think that I have used Jott exactly one time.

And then Jott decided to begin to charge for their mediocre product, rather than improve it enough that their subscriber base would grow. This seemed to be a clear sign of their obsolescence. I suspect that this is general principle in the Internet age: when you convert a free service to a paid service, you are effectively admitting that your advertising income is so low that you need to do anything you can just to stay afloat.

But these last, desperate attempts to stave off bankruptcy merely delay the inevitable — and in the process they alienate those few customers these sites have. I would advise any start-ups to avoid this tendency. When the time has come to fold, you should fold gracefully.