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Now Software Shuts Down

We’re tremendously sorry to report that Now Software, makers of the Now Up-to-Date & Contact software and its Now X replacement, has suspended day-to-day operations. Company head John Wallace has set up a site to provide support for existing Now Software customers; it offers downloads to those who need copies of already licensed software along with user forums for technical support.

On the site, John has also posted a farewell letter to the Now Software community, explaining that the company essentially bit off more than it could chew with its next-generation contact and calendar management software, Now X, which spent years in development under the codename NightHawk.

Now Up-to-Date & Contact was based on an extremely old code base, and the Now Software developers knew they had to rewrite it entirely to move beyond the basic Mac OS X compatibility they were able to achieve with the original code. But calendaring software is devilishly difficult to do well, especially when it’s designed to offer sharing among members of widely dispersed workgroups, and Now X needed to shoehorn both calendaring and contact management into a single program.

That task took years longer than anticipated, leading to a situation where Now Software wasn’t earning much from the elderly Now Up-to-Date & Contact, but still needing significant resources to devote to Now X development. Although Now X officially shipped in August 2009, it had numerous rough edges and many Now Up-to-Date & Contact users had already switched to other programs. Apparently, sales of Now X weren’t sufficient to bring the company back from the brink.

We moved to BusyMac’s BusySync and iCal (see “Converting from Now Up-to-Date to iCal and BusySync,” 12 December 2008), and then to BusyCal, which is amusing because that brought us back to the work of Now Up-to-Date’s original creators, Dave Riggle and John Chaffee. We also use Address Book, though not entirely happily.

This was actually the second incarnation of Now Software. The first company, which I remember forming around the Now Utilities collection of updated shareware utilities in the early 1990s, was purchased by Qualcomm in 1997, when Now Software was reportedly the 71st-largest software company in the United States, with nearly 2 million users (at the time, Qualcomm boasted 18 million users of Eudora; how things have changed). The acquisition was seemingly aimed at bringing Now Software’s expertise in contact and calendar management to Eudora users in the form of a program called Eudora Planner. It wasn’t a success, and
utility company Power On Software acquired the rights to Now Contact and Now Up-to-Date and Eudora Planner in 1999.

Three years later, Power On Software revived the Now Software name as a division of the company (see “Macworld Expo New York 2002 Superlatives,” 29 July 2002), and eventually renamed the entire company to Now Software, dropping all of Power On Software’s previous utilities to focus on the bundled Now Up-to-Date & Contact. For a number of years, Now Up-to-Date & Contact remained one of the most capable contact and calendaring solutions for workgroups, particularly given iCal’s abysmal approach to sharing and Address Book’s complete lack of sharing capabilities until recently. In 2006, we worked with Now Software to produce the free “Take Control of Now Up-to-Date & Contact” ebook, which remains available for download.

It’s always sad to see a company upon whose products you have depended disappear, and that’s all the more true for us with Now Software, since even before we worked with them professionally on the Take Control title, we’d known John and Sheila Wallace, along with a variety of other Now Software employees, from various MacHacks and Macworld Expos. We wish them the best of luck, and look forward to whatever they end up doing next.

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