I’m an avid follower of the 37signals blogs and they happened to be giving out some promo codes for a new iPhone app called Outpost. All I had to do was send a tweet to the develoers and I just happened to be one of the lucky ones to secure one of these promo codes. w00t!
I must say, as someone that is planning on releasing some software for the iPhone here in the near future, I’m pretty impressed with the promo codes. I think it is a great way to get people excited about your application and get it into the hands of the reviewers.
Back to Outpost…
This is a slick application. I have a very small Basecamp site with a buddy for some side projects that we are working on. We use Basecamp as our main way of keeping track of where each other is at since we work for two different companies. Its a pretty valuable tool for us. Having access to updates, being able to comment on what has been posted and checking off todo items from my phone has been a great extension of the basecamp site. A lot of what I do on my iPhone is check in on email, news, facebook, twitter and now basecamp. I feel like I’m able to contribute more by doing a quick check in, leave a comment and move on. This way my buddy isn’t waiting several hours before I check email again or log into the site.
I’ve decided to get a bit more formal with my reviews so here is a break down of the big items that relate to any application that I am review going forward. All categories are ranked on a scale of 5 stars.
Stability: 5 stars – So far I haven’t had a single crash of the application. Its been rock solid and very responsive whenever I have been messing with it.
Stickiness: 4.5 stars – I like this app, I really do. I think that if you are going to shell out $12.99 bucks for an application, you’re going to have a really hard time removing it from your iPhone/iTouch. Now, I’m not sure if this app was say $2.99 that you would feel the same way. I think that if you found another application that happened to do all of the same features and maybe had an interface that you preferred, you might jump ship.
Addictiveness: 4.5 stars – I’m not the biggest Basecamp user that there is out there. We’ve got a really small project that we are working on. But the fact that it works just fine with the “free” package that we’re on is awesome. The real difference for me is that it has changed how I use Basecamp. I’m more responsive and I find myself checking in more than I had before. I’m not quite convinced that I would kill my battery using this application yet. So I only gave it a 4.5 out of 5. But its really close.
Support: N/A – I can’t really judge this one. I haven’t had an issue. Based on the speed that I got a response on my initial twitter message, I have a feeling that they would be pretty responsive to whatever issue you might run into. But so far, no issues (Nice job Morfunk!!!)
UI/Usability: 5 stars – This app feels like a natural extension of the Basecamp web site. I was able to get up and running in no time and browsing through the project messages, to-dos, milestones was a very natural experience.
Value: 3 stars – This was a tough one. I got lucky and got a promo code so this was a freebie (thanks again morfunk!!!). But to come up with a value for this I asked myself 2 questions. Would I pay for this app? And how much? This is an application that I would pay for, but I’m not sure that I would shell out $12.99 for it. Maybe I’m just not that big of a Basecamp user yet. If I had one of the larger accounts where I was paying $24 or $49 bucks a month, then $12.99 really isn’t that much. But I’m just not there yet. I think that the more appropriate range for this application is a bit lower. I think that there are a lot of projects that fall into my range (free) that see that $12.99 as a big price to swallow and just resort back to the web where it is free. I think that if you want to get to this group, which I would imagine is a larger group than the paying Basecamp customers, I think that you need to be somewhere in the $5-$10 range. I think a price of $7.99 is a pretty fair price. At that price, I’m not going to jump ship anytime soon and it allows you to drop your shorts when you need to. At $12.99, someone else will come up with a knock off that can undercut your price and attract a big audience pretty quickly and possibly push Outpost to the fringe.
One could argue that a ‘lite’ version could be made available, but I think that you would greatly hurt the application by removing features and functionality. Basecamp is popular because of its simplicity and Outpost continues that tradition. The only items that are missing from Outpost are the user level settings of updating billing, preferences, etc that don’t really belong in this application. The only missing feature that I haven’t found is a way to create other users. But really, how often do you add users to your project? I think that this is a feature that is fine to leave out of the application so it isn’t a knock against it in my mind.
Total score: 22 out of 25 stars
My overall recommendation is that if you are an avid Basecamp user, this application is worth picking up. If you are worried about the price, you might want to wait and see if it goes on sale somewhere down the line.