The demise of Transmit and the future of pro level iOS apps

From the Panic blog, announcing the suspension of the iOS version of the very popular Transmit app:

Transmit iOS made about $35k in revenue in the last year, representing a minuscule fraction of our overall 2017 app revenue. That’s not enough to cover even a half-time developer working on the app. And the app needs full-time work — we’d love to be adding all of the new protocols we added in Transmit 5, as well as some dream features, but the low revenue would render that effort a guaranteed money-loser.

David Sparks from his blog:

Panic has made public statements about how little income they’re making off their pro-level iOS apps, and I really can’t blame them for pulling Transmit if it is losing them money.

What is even more upsetting is that an app of the calibre of Transmit for iOS is a financial failure and none of us are much surprised.


I use Transmit both on my Mac and iOS devices. I don’t recall what I originally paid for Transmit, but I believe it was in the neighborhood of $50. Since then I’ve upgraded twice so let’s say I’ve now given Panic $100 for the privilege of having their app on my Mac.

When I bought Transmit for my iOS devices, I paid $10. That is it. I’ve been using the app for years and all the money Panic ever got out of me was $10, less than I’m going to spend today on lunch.

That’s the issue. Somehow, consoles like Nintendo Switch and the Xbox, as well as the Mac, have avoided the race to the bottom that makes iOS apps want to be free, or dependent on in app purchases. While in-app-purchases make sense for a game, it is a harder sell for a pro-level app.

Panic is pulling Transmit for iOS but keeping the Mac version. Part of the issue is the massive size of the iOS App Store compared to the Mac App Store. The iOS App Store is large enough that it attracts people willing to build something for free just for the experience. And once there’s a free alternative, it becomes exponentially harder to get people to pay for an alternative, even if it is a better experience.