23 Comments

Summary:

At the Macworld Expo last week, Weldon Dodd and I spent about an hour with Alkyhan Jetha (AJ), the CEO & President of Marketcircle, makers of Daylite, Daylite Touch and Billings. It was a real treat to spend time with AJ as both Weldon and I […]

daylighttouchphoneAt the Macworld Expo last week, Weldon Dodd and I spent about an hour with Alkyhan Jetha (AJ), the CEO & President of Marketcircle, makers of Daylite, Daylite Touch and Billings. It was a real treat to spend time with AJ as both Weldon and I learned quite a bit about Daylite Touch.

At the beginning of the interview, AJ explained how Daylite started as a tool that they built to better manage their own consulting business. Eventually they realized that the solution they developed for themselves might be valuable to others trying to manage their businesses on the Mac platform. Sure enough, Daylite has become an invaluable productivity tool for many Mac users.

The decision to bring Daylite to the iPhone was easy. AJ said that they downloaded the iPhone SDK within minutes of it appearing on Apple’s web site (one of their engineers just happened to be on the developer page when it dropped) and everything stopped at Marketcircle while they started working on what would become Daylite Touch. A year later, the effort involved in bringing Daylite Touch to market is evident.

Upon initial viewing of the app, it was amazing to see how Daylite Touch is really a deep companion to the Daylite product line. It has the majority of the functionality of the main application and honestly adds functionality that Apple missed when building the iPhone.

As a smartphone and mobile device user for the past 10 years, one thing Apple missed is not providing an aggregated at-a-glance look of today’s appointments and tasks. Further, previous experience with Windows Mobile devices showed me that having a screen with an aggregated view of my current day is critical in telling me what I need to do next.

Home Screen

Well, with mighty praise, Marketcircle nailed this functionality in Daylite Touch with their Home screen. Here is an example:

Today Screen

In the Home screen, Daylite Touch shows me my appointments and meetings for today and tomorrow, as well as letting you know of any tasks that need completion. Further, the Next tab, visible on the right-side of the screen, gives you one-touch access to the details of your next appointment including the location and contact details. Tapping phone numbers will place a call and tapping addresses will launch the built-in Maps application on the iPhone for directions and so on.

Objectives

Objectives is an aggregated view of your Daylite Projects, Opportunities, Pipelines and Notes. Here, you can navigate the different components and edit them with full fidelity. One feature I really appreciated during the demo was the ability to filter by category (as a user of Daylite, this is very powerful). Users can also delegate any item here to other users of Daylite.

Here is an example of a project and its related notes:

Objectives

Contacts

Contacts is an aggregated view of both your contacts and organizations. This simplified view provides a single list of all your phone contacts. Within the next version of Daylite (3.9), you’ll be able to specify exactly which contacts and organizations you want to sync with your copy of Daylite Touch.

What makes this especially valuable is that some folks only want specific contacts on their phone. A weakness with MobileMe is that all of your contacts are synced to the iPhone whether you like it or not.

If you do want to sync all of your contacts with Daylite Touch, there is one caveat. If you have over 500 contacts, you will see them displayed 100 at a time (with standard iPhone pagination). AJ said this was a performance issue that will most likely not be resolved by the time Daylite Touch is available in the Apple App Store.

Calendar

You would think that the Calendar component is just another Calendar app competitor. Well, it isn’t. Daylite Touch’s calendar is much richer than the functionality that Apple’s Calendar provides. Similar to the Calendar app, you can view appointments and meetings via a list, the current day or the month.

Calendar

What’s not in this screenshot is that when you turn the iPhone on its side, Daylite Touch uses the accelerometer to display a week view of your appointments. This is just fantastic.

Also, you can quickly add an appointment via multi-touch. Essentially, users do not need to go into another screen to create a new appointment. Watching AJ perform this task was enjoyable because it was intuitive — it just made sense to create appointments this way.

Synchronization

Synchronization has been completely rewritten for Daylite 3.9 (required for the Daylite Touch Server). Under the hood, OpenBase has been replaced with PostgreSQL. Moving to the more modern, opensource database should provide faster and more stable syncing with offline databases and more reliable connections for Daylite Touch.

A lot of engineering effort has been placed into designing Daylite Touch to only tranmit small packets of data and to gracefully respond to a loss of an internet connection, or an interruption from a phone call. The iPhone app will pick up where it left off and resume syncing as soon as a connection to the Daylite Touch Server is restored.

Pricing and Availability

Daylite Touch will require Daylite 3.9 (a free upgrade for existing users) and a new Daylite Touch device license for each device that will sync with your database. The pricing for these new device licenses has not been set, but AJ said that you can expect them to be competitive with similar apps on other mobile platforms. Reading between the lines, this is not going to be a 99 cent app, or even a $9.99 app, but probably closer to $99.

As an aside, the move to PostgreSQL on the backend also means the end of the ridiculous need to enter all the user licenses on every computer. You will be able to manage all your licenses on the machine that you designate as the Daylite Server.

AJ says to expect Daylite Touch in the first quarter of this year. Given what Weldon and I witnessed at Macworld Expo, its safe to say that we were reasonably convinced that many Daylite and non-Daylite users will install this application. Frankly, it is one of the first complete applications available for the iPhone. Well done Marketcircle, well done.

At a possible ~$99 price point, would you still purchase Daylite Touch? If it’s not worth it to you at that price, at what point would it be?

  1. I also want to credit Weldon Dodd who also contributed to this article. Thank you Weldon!

    Share
  2. looks nice – can i run this on my mac?

    Share
  3. @ redjade

    Daylite Touch is a companion app to use in conjunction with the desktop version, the Daylite Productivity Suite.

    For more info, check out: http://www.marketcircle.com/daylite/index.html

    Share
  4. I don’t use Daylite currently but have been intrigued by it of late. It looks like a tremendous product and it carries a corresponding price point. Perhaps it is well worth it for a full-fledged desktop application.

    But considering that Daylite Touch will not be a stand-alone app, and that you need the desktop side installed as well, that gets to be an expensive package were it sold at $99. In fact, I would think an app on any handheld device that sold for $99 today would need to be the mother of all apps! That, or a user is so tied in to Daylite that they’ll pay a premium to have it on their iPhone or iPod Touch.

    From my outsider’s perspective, $99 is quite high.

    Share
  5. Daylite Touch is pretty close to being the mother of all apps. ;)

    The price does seem high, but it is in line with similar solutions. For comparison, ACT! Mobile for Palm is $99.99 and Salesforce Mobile for BlackBerry or iPhone is available for an additional $50/user/month fee if you are using Salesforce.com Professional at $65/user/month.

    Share
  6. Daylite lacks basic mac functionality, such as auto complete and some drag and drop. It has a learning curve so steep, and its operation is so non intuitive, that I ended up dropping it in my busines. Its pricing is already high. It can’t really compete even with Microsoft Office calendar suite for mac for small businesses at least. Syncing is awkward. The support seems to be a pyramid selling scheme.

    To make this an additional $99 per device is not competiive for the amount of functionality it provides over mobile me. Contactizer Pro is a much better app for contact management and general office organisation tasks. My business switched entitrely to Contactizer Pro and it blows Daylite away.

    The disappointing thing here is that development on Daylite stopped while thye added this app, which they are selling for a huge price, while Daylite itself remains unfinished and not ready for prime time. Without auto-complete, it is almost unusable. These developers have their priorities wrong and this iphone app is a good example of pigging at the trough instead of improving their product.

    Share
  7. That predicted price point will be a big mistake. We currently have 6 licenses & 6 iphones. One of the main reasons we made the decision to go with daylite was the iphone component they kept over promising and under delivering on. A full daylite license is around $250. The iphone app should be a driver to switch to daylite rather than a revenue driver itself. If I have to pay that much for it, I begin to look around for what else is available to see if I’m getting value. You already have me as a customer Market circle, all you have to do is keep me. If I’m happy I don’t look around for what else is out there.

    Share
  8. @John, @Jim – we aren’t certain what the pricing will be. The folks at Marketcircle are still working it out. We believe that it could be as high as $99/license. However, it could also be less (or much less). This is a very rich companion app. Marketcircle has spent quite a bit of time ensuring they built the right product for their customers (at the expense of perception around delays). I think that speaks volumes.

    Share
  9. I agree with the other comments that if they were to ask $99 for the iPhone app it would be too much. For a comparison, I recently paid $25 for a 1-year subscription for Remember the Milk’s “pro” service which includes the iPhone app functionality. The service was otherwise free so paying an “extra” $25 for the year seemed worth it to me.

    If I were already paying for Daylite, I might be willing to pay a similar amount extra to use the iPhone version but not much more (maybe $35-$40).

    I wonder how worried Marketcircle is about Google Apps moving in on their turf assuming Google improves the company-wide management of contacts and their task-tracking functionality.

    Share
  10. People – remember the first part before those “prices” – ‘Reading between the lines…’ and ‘At a possible ~$99 price point…’ really means:

    “I don’t know anything, so I’ll just pull these guestimated numbers out of my a$$”

    Wait until official word.

    Share

Comments have been disabled for this post