A story of business change gone wrong:

I’ve recently started using a Google/Verizon Droid SmartPhone. Running the Google Android operating system, it is one slick toy, and having waited as long as I could to make the jump I believe I’ve made the right choice.

Part of getting the device to work the way I need it to has involved finding the right software to install on it. One of my needs is a password manager, and for me SplashID from SplashData is the best choice out there. I’ve used it for almost ten years, first on a Palm Pilot, and then on a WindowsMobile PDA. So I was really happy to find it available on Android.

The software consists of both a phone-based component and software you run on your computer, and under both Palm and WindowsMobile they spoke to each other automatically; any changes you made on one appeared on the other almost by magic. And to their credit, the folks at SplashData didn’t make me pay for a new version of the desktop software. I only had to spend $9.95 on the Android software.

And now, the story gets very, very bad.

With Android, the synchronization process doesn’t happen over a wire as it did with the other versions. Sounds great. But then it turns out that I have to use Wi-Fi instead of the phone network to make the two pieces of software talk to each other. It’s a bit annoying and could have been avoided, but I can live with this requirement. Wait . . . and I have to have both pieces of software connected to the same Wi-Fi network to make them sync. And it’s a manual process, not automatic as in the other versions. And I can only initiate the process from the Android side, but it won’t work unless the software is also active on the computer. Oh, and one more problem: I have to know and type the IP address of the computer into my Droid for the two devices to talk.

If you don’t quite understand the issues I’ve just listed, or how easy it would have been to address them, that’s OK. The point is that Splashdata has taken a great piece of software and turned it into something I wish I hadn’t bought from them for a third time.

So strike that “great customer service” comment, because just being nice isn’t good enough. They’ve chased off a loyal customer. Oh, and by the way, I pointed out the issues I had experienced to them and their response was basically “yeah, software development is hard”.

Business change is a complicated thing; had Splashdata come to The Answer Guy, we would have steered them through this before it became a mess. Instead, they’ve ruined their software, and alienated a loyal customer who regularly sold their software for them.

So file it under “don’t let this happen to you”.

UPDATE 4 June 2010 : OK . . . so . . . SplashData has just upgraded The SplashID software to a 5.x version that “Works with Android”. Stay tuned . . .

Update #2 for 4 June 2010: The folks at SplashData sent me a key to upgrade to Version 5 desktop. I’ve done it. Here’s what I’ve found.

UPDATE, August 2013: And now, with the newly-released SplashID 7 becoming a “you will pay us an annual fee or you can’t sync your SmartPhone with your desktop and there’s no ‘Option B’ tool”, they’ve lost me forever.

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