Something about their business model doesn't quite seem to be working ... too big a product range ? too strong an emotional attachment to small scale ? recruitment simply dampened by Seattle rain ? or by some phobia of tele-workers ?
I've worked for companies large and small; start-ups that made it and ones that didn't. Omni come across more and more as a small company that has not broken the ceiling into the big time. I think you're right, unconscious attachment to small scale, without realising that their business model is severely hindering any chance of breaking the ceiling, and very attached to their way of doing things (including the business model that limits them so).
Product range too large. Yes definitely. But more to the point, they have a fixed number of developers, and instead of expanding that when they needed to (eg. implement the iPad suite), they've just spread that original number around, and therefore each product now has less developers. So we do not get the level of service that we used to get in the good old days.
Also, they have beefed up their product managers. In the old days, we had only developers responding on this forum, which meant the responses were top notch (because the Omni developers, unlike most companies these days, are top notch). But of course if developers spend their time on the forum, their development suffers. So they brought in various product managers, and some funny rules and attitudes. Now the technical quality of the responses is bad, but the politeness is top notch.
Omni has this idea that anyone should be able to pick up a product and use it effectively. That of course is not original, the beast himself started that in 1984. And it has destroyed the IT industry. Now we have florists and unemployed chefs developing "software", and erecting "architectural diagrams", all on the basis of some 3-week MS "certification" course. Personally I think the notion is na´ve, and geared very much to the short term, but consistent with the beast and the expectations of the younger crowd. In the context of their business model, it is geared to short term sales, single sales. Try before you buy, you too can draw amazing diagrams with this tool
Uh huh. It's a drawing tool, not an artificial intelligence app.
I don't know if I am getting my point across, and it is an important one, so let me illustrate using a real world example. True story. I know a certain person who is an acknowledged master with databases, he has Data Models posted in many websites, answering technical questions. One day, the editor of an online database magazine approached him with "we want you to write an article, on how to draw beautiful Data Models, like the ones you have on that website".
Uh huh. The beast has a short attention span, 1500 words max. Not possible. He refused.
They really wanted the article, so after substantial back and forth, getting the editor to appreciate the science of Data Modelling; the science that went into the erection of the drawing; and the science that went into the stencil, they agreed to a series of seven articles, with a pre-arranged and agreed structure.
Now the possibility of their readership being able to draw beautiful Data Models, is actually realistic.
Sure, anyone can pick OmniGraffle up and use it, because it is intuitive, and that is because they have complied with Mac standards faithfully. (Many, many questions on the forum are really questions about how to use a Mac, not about how to use OG.) But the knowledge picked up in such an exercise is a superficial knowledge of the product, not what I would call a reasonable test drive. And if they end up buying, they then go about creating all sorts of complex drawings entirely the wrong way: without structure and standards; without templates and styles; using layers for all the wrong reasons; creating much more work than they need to; etc. The forums are full of people doing all the wrong things, and then wanting the product to fix their problem
Second, the more they know about visual art; graphic design; cognitive science; the standards in their particular field; etc, the better their drawing will be, regardless of the the tool they use. A good tool will simply make it easier than a bad tool.
My approach is, sure, try the product out, but read the manual and go through the tutorials, before drawing anything complex. One saves a lot of time; avoids bad habits and incorrect practices; forms some structure; and builds an approach. Then one truly has a chance of drawing great diagrams. I was cautioned years ago by Omni that that was not the approach they wanted to foster on the forums, RTFM is a not allowed. But that is the more appropriate approach for long term sales, and sales to large companies that would buy hundreds of copies.
What I am saying is, their approach is consistent with their business model, and with short term sales, to single users; it is in
consistent with long term sales and corporate (hundreds of copies) sales. So they are stuck in the small end of town.
The voting on bugs plus new features plus enhancements (to existing features) all lumped together, is "fine" for a small company (limited resources) and a short term vision. It is antithetical to either a large software company or the long term approach. And a source of frustration to those of us who expect Omni to respond like a large company with a long term vision.
As for the product management and marketing, they should move away from selling pretty drawings (with OG being the enabler), and instead sell a brilliant drawing tool (with pretty drawing being the result). It appears they have not realised what they actually have. OmniGraffle rocks
, but no one in the corporate world has heard the tune. Once they realise the market exists, they will start marketing in the right circles, and then the business model will change.