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Tony Mobily's picture
By Tony Mobily
Tuesday, December 7, 2010 - 11:45

Are stand alone programs set to join the same league as stand alone computers?

As many of our customers know, we are getting ready to release our "paid plans". While this is exciting, as we will finally earn money with Apollo, there is always the other side of the coin: organising a good, reliable, convenient merchant account. This involves, amongst other things, to fill out a staggering number of forms.

Before we started our research, we knew that "it was a jungle out there". What we didn't know, is the kind of jungle we would have to deal with! Getting a merchant account for a new business is really quite something. It's a pretty involved process where you need a merchant account, a gateway, a company, and a lot of patience. And there are forms: countless forms to fill out. Luckily, in 2010, "filling out forms" doesn't involve pen and paper: most forms are in PDF; so, you can do all the work while you are in front of your computer -- especially since there are desktop programs that allow you to fill out PDF forms (a lot of people out there have the same issue). Things get interesting when there are different people who need to fill out different forms, using different operating systems. In our office we have Windows, OS X, and GNU/Linux. Andrea started filling out a form using a Windows program, and of course he couldn't email it to me so that I could finish off "my" part using GNU/Linux or OS X. Plus, there were sections to highlight, notes to be made, and so on. We needed some kind of collaboration tool.

We found it: on the cloud. Suddenly, the operating system we were using didn't matter anymore. Even the format didn't matter anymore: we were free to use the tool, without worrying at all about the "operational details". We had to fill out six PDF forms: we were able to write notes on the side of the pages, highlight bits for each other, and even sign them after scanning our signatures. We were able to do so in a pretty relaxed time frame (we finished the form off in about one week). We completed the process with a relatively small amount of pain, considering that we were filling out long forms.

During this process, I kept on thinking: there are cases where the cloud really makes sense. I thought about Apollo, and how crucial it was for several people to share messages and project information. I thought about filling out a form where more than one person was involved in the process (which is nearly often the case for business forms). And then... I realised that I was looking at the issue from the wrong perspective: I realised that there aren't many cases out there where the cloud is useless, from writing to accounting to email. Having this article in Google Documents allows us (at Applicom) to write comments, expand parts, or deleting parts that are not appropriate. Having an online accounting program means that you can share your books with your accountant in real time. Having an online inbox means that anybody in the company can reply our customers' emails. The list goes on and on, and in the end I realised that I just couldn't find an example where the cloud didn't make at least a lot of sense, in the contest of using computers for productivity purposes.

Online programs are relatively new, and much younger than their "stand-alone" competition. They often have a long way to go in terms of features, and yet often people seem to prefer them. They do so for a reason: because working together is easier, even if the tool is not quite as fancy. Stand alone programs are set to become what stand alone computers are today when compared to Internet-enabled computers: lonely tools, hardly useful for anything real, sitting in a corner of the room, on their way to the kerb.

I doubt anybody is going to miss them.

5 comments so far

Andrew's picture


Sat, 12/11/2010 - 07:05


I do feel your pain about merchant accounts they really are a hassle to setup.

I can't wait for your paid plans, because honestly every time I log into your system I feel guilty for getting to use something this great for free.

Tony Mobily's picture

Tony Mobily

Wed, 01/12/2011 - 08:43



We recently got approved, and everything is setup. However, we won't start charging customers until we've completed what we consider some "key features" in Apollo.

We will release paid plans in a few weeks (where "few" means "3-5", not "7-10"! :D )

Thank you,


geoff's picture


Thu, 01/20/2011 - 23:18


how much do you anticipate your paid plans costing?

Andrea Di Clemente's picture

Andrea Di Clemente

Fri, 01/21/2011 - 19:52


We've been in free beta since July.   We'll release plans in the next few weeks, which will be modeled after Basecamp prices (and we'll also add a cheaper 'solo' edition which is being requested by many users).

We really want to offer more for less than the competitors, that's why we are integrating project management functions, and contacts/cases/deals tracking abilities, and a good calendar, and timers, in a single page snappy app!

On top of that, early users who bothered to ask for an invite and maybe help us spread the word, will be entitled to interesting lifetime discounts  :-)

Kevin S's picture

Kevin S

Tue, 03/08/2011 - 07:16


Just sent an e-mail for an invite after finding this solution and being really (really!) impressed. Have already shared this with another designer and after tinkering with it will be posting a review. Thanks for the alternative to Basecamp!