(UPDATED) The otherwise highly astute Khoi Vinh risks his reputation by shitcanning a beloved and unique iPad application, Mixel, that he was too (uncharacteristically) stupid to have charged for in the first place. And not only is Facebook not riding in on a navy-blue stallion to save the day, Mixel users will simply be barred from using the app in a matter of weeks. In fact, by the end of this week you won’t even be able to download the app, and soon this iPad app will begin to malfunction and never stop.

This is no way to remix a railroad. I call for a user uprising.

What Mixel is really trying to say

  • We were too stupid to charge for our app in the first place, which would have actually made us money.

  • Nobody bought us out despite our large userbase.

  • We couldn’t figure out a subscription model despite having one staring us in the face – subscribers get to post their work on the Mixel Web forum.

  • We’re going to remove the app from the App Store. Later, we will cause every use of that app to present errors to the user as though this were, say, Windows 95.

  • At some point, we will unilaterally remove illustrations you created from the Web. “Remove” means “delete.”

  • You can download your “mixels” (surely capitalized) as flat image files but not as their corresponding vector primitives, rendering them useless for any future collage work.

  • After giving you the shaft on Mixel, please download our next app.

E-mail (2012.08.08, “A Note About Mixel for iPad”) sent by Khoi Vinh to Mixel users (copy-edited):

We’re sending this E-mail to people, like yourself, who have formed the active, passionate, and amazing core of the Mixel community since our launch. It’s been so gratifying to watch your endless creativity, and we can’t thank you enough for it.

Unfortunately, we’ve decided that the time has come to put this first iteration of Mixel to rest. As of this Friday, August 10, new users will no longer be able to download Mixel for iPad from the App Store. On that day, we’ll announce this news to the entire Mixel userbase with a blog post, but we wanted to let you know about it first.

If you’ve already got Mixel installed on your iPad, this won’t affect you immediately. You’ll still be able to use Mixel for the next several weeks, but we intend to shut down the network service by early September, too.

Why are you doing this?

We’re incredibly proud of Mixel for iPad, but we haven’t seen the growth we’d like to see for it. The Mixel community, as you’re no doubt aware, is robust, friendly, energetic, creative and truly wonderful, but in the end it is not as large as it would have to be in order for us to sustain it as a business.

Web image search has not worked recently. Is that related to this decision?

Only coincidentally. Mixel for iPad’s Web image search is powered by Microsoft Bing, who recently implemented major changes to their API (the set of programming hooks that our app uses to communicate with Bing’s image-search engine). To fix this would require us to revise the app’s code and submit a new version to the App Store, and we figured this presented us with a logical point to retire the app.

What will happen to all of the mixels I’ve made?

Using the current iPad app, you can save any mixels you’ve made right now quite easily. Just tap on the Share icon below any mixel and then tap on Save to Photos, and a copy will appear in your Photos app. You can also go to any mixel’s Web page, Ctrl-click on the mixel itself and save it to your computer. However, in the coming weeks we’ll also have a simple way for you to download all of your mixels in a single bundle, which will be even easier and faster.

What if I don’t currently have Mixel installed but still want to download my mixels?

You have two options. Between now and Friday afternoon, you can still re-download Mixel for iPad from the App Store (still free, of course). Just open up the App Store icon on your iPad, tap on Purchases and look for the app there. That will let you access all of your content. Your second option is to wait a few weeks and we’ll let you download all of your mixels in a single bundle.

What happens when the network shuts down?

The app will simply cease to function. Opening it will produce a communication error, and no content will be visible.

What will happen to the Web pages for each mixel?

When the network shuts down, those will be removed as well.

What’s happening to the company?

Lascaux Co., Inc. is a small startup with limited resources, and we’ve decided to refocus our energies on a new product. We’re nearly finished with it and will début it in the coming weeks. More on this below.

Why can’t you continue to operate Mixel for iPad alongside the new product?

That would seem ideal, but it’s just not feasible given our current scale. It takes tremendous energy to build and nurture even one app with a robust community of users. It would be fair to no one to try and divide our resources among two such apps.

Finally, I just want to emphasize my personal sadness at this turn of events. Mixel for iPad was an idea that I nurtured for a long time, and to which I devoted over a year and a half of my life. Coming to this decision was a long and painful process, made even more difficult by the knowledge that people like you were putting so much wonderful energy into it. We tried really hard to come up with an alternative, but when all was said and done, this was the most realistic path.

Thank you, once more, for all of your contributions and your time. On a positive note, I believe we have something really wonderful in our new app. It includes some of our favorite parts of Mixel for iPad – creativity with images, community and collaboration. I’m looking forward to sharing it with you very soon, and I hope you’ll give it a try. Keep an eye on [the soon-to-be-defunct Mixel site] for more info soon.

Best –

Khoi Vinh,
Co-founder, CEO,
Lascaux Co., Inc.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2012.08.08 20:12. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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None. I quit.

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