Blog Post

Logos Software Takes a Leap of Faith to the Mac

Logos Bible Software shipped the first version of its Bible study software 18 years ago in December 1991 for the, at that time, brand new Windows operating system. Last year, Logos finally released version 1.0 of its software for the Mac and its story provides a great example of the growth of the Mac market and the strength of the platform.

Just recently, Logos introduced an alpha release of version 4 which introduces feature parity with all 100+ new features in the Windows version. Along with a new iPhone app, Logos is making a big commitment to the Mac platform and it appears to be paying off.

The exciting bit here is not so much another software release on the Mac, but the story of how one company made the move from Windows only to embrace the Mac and the iPhone.

A Massive Digital Library, on your PC, on your Mac, on your iPhone

Logos started out as a very simple piece of software meant to quickly search the text of the Bible. It has evolved into a complete digital library solution for studying everything from the Bible itself in the original languages and in numerous translations to commentaries, exegetical analysis, family trees of people in the Bible, maps and pictures of locations in the Bible and more. The library of books that are available to study and read in the Logos system is massive — over 10,000 titles. There are several different packages to choose from that include various collections of titles at different price points.

The Logos 4 software runs on your Windows PC, on your Mac, and there is a companion iPhone app available as well. All of these versions will stay in sync with each other so you can pull up the titles you have purchased and see your favorites and personal notes wherever you happen to be studying. You can get a great overview of version 4 and how it works in a video introduction produced by Logos.

The Journey to the Mac

The effort to bring Logos to the Mac goes back several years, but the first abortive attempt was never finished. A renewed push came about four years ago. Dan Pritchett tells us that Logos approached the project with some trepidation about how Mac customers would receive a product from the Windows world.

We decided that we wanted to put out the best Mac product that we could. The Mac market is sophisticated and sharp and very particular about their software. We couldn’t disappoint.

Logos chose to build the application for the Mac from the ground up and make it a great native experience rather than do a simple port of the Windows app. In order to find the expertise to build great Macintosh software, Logos went straight to the source — Cupertino. Apple (s aapl) worked with Logos to help it find a partner with the right experience and the Logos for Mac project was launched.

Was Moving to the Mac the Right Choice?

It was challenging to work with an outside group on the Mac version while development on the Windows version continued internally. The end result was not too shabby, even if it did not have all of the extensive features of the Windows version.

We’re ecstatic with the way the market has responded. The Mac world is hard to please. We were preparing for the worst: “You don’t get us, don’t understand us.” But the response has been really positive. The time we put into doing it right was well worth building it from the ground up. Our sales for the first quarter after the initial release were 122% above plan.

That early success was enough to convince Logos to make a stronger commitment to the Mac. Since that first release, a Mac development team has been created in house and one of the Mac-enthusiasts on the Windows team has even switched over. One other benefit of the Mac?

Our software worked way faster on the Mac. It not only works great, but it’s faster.

What Does the Future Hold?

The latest version, Logos 4, is being released quickly behind the Windows version with a goal of complete feature parity. The commitment to dual-platform releases means that installers for both Windows and Mac ship on the same CD. But the importance of the Mac does not stop at being included in the box. Dan told me that some of the design ideas from the Mac version were influencing the Windows version. Logos felt like they learned a lot about designing good software from the Mac effort, something that should come as no surprise to those of us that are used to excellent UI design on the Mac.

One of the cool new features in Logos 4 is that the app will update in the background and pull in new features that are planned to be released over the next several months. While the Mac version is lagging behind Windows development, the gap is closing and this auto-updating feature will mean that Mac users will catch up.

What Does this Mean for the Mac Market?

I think there are two big lessons to be gleaned from Logos’ experience with the Mac. The first is that the Mac market is big enough to support even niche players that cater to a very particular group of customers. Logos took its Bible study software and made it work beautifully on the Mac by partnering with Apple directly and finding a partner that could help them make great Mac software. Once the concept was proven and the market response was measured, Logos quickly moved to bring Mac development in house and increased its commitment to the platform.

The second important lesson here is that the cloud is having a profound influence on software development across platforms. The fancy syncing features of Logos 4 and the iPhone app that lets you access your entire catalog on the go are only possible with the advance of cloud computing, broadband, and mobile Internet. It is now possible to use the cloud as an easy way to move user data from an application on Windows to another application on the Mac that can share information. Switching platforms is facilitated by the cloud which makes it even easier for people to join the Mac crowd.

Both of these trends bode well for the future of the Mac. We have a large sustainable market for software that can entice even niche players and new cloud computing technologies are helping reduce the dependence on proprietary Windows software.

Other Logos Resources

10 Responses to “Logos Software Takes a Leap of Faith to the Mac”

  1. Couple of responses to everyone:
    Jake: Logos 4 for the Mac can do both Hebrew and Greek. Version 1 could as well. This has been supported since the early alphas of version 1.

    Yuki (regarding your money gripes): Of course it costs money. They are a company. They never have claimed to be a non-profit. They spend some of that money to produce more works. Many, if not most, of the products they offer in digital format actually cost less than the print editions. This makes their software a great deal. Also, they produce works that have never been released anywhere else including their Lexham resources which are superb.

    Yuki (regarding the iPhone app): The app does rely on the internet, although the most recent update allows for the downloading of books for offline browser. You have to understand that many of us have libraries of books well over 5 GB. I don’t want all those on my iPhone. I want to be able to pick what I want onboard. Also understand that licensing might not allow them to put certain works on the iPhone in certain formats (this varies from publisher to publisher).

    Otto (and others): Logos has been very upfront regarding their product development. Everytime I read something about the Mac from Logos it always has been clear about where it is at in development and whether or not it is behind in development compared to the Windows version. You bought it with your own expectations and wants, not based on what Logos said clearly in many different public forums.

  2. How much should you have to pay for Bible software? What a worldly company focusing on the almighty dollar. You can pay $150 for the version that gives you 80 Bibles and some reference books. Yah, I need 80 bibles to get the point that Christ died for me. The iPhone App is no different than a glorified internet browser since it feeds off of web services from their site.

    You’ll notice how they array the products in ascending order of cost from rear to front?

    Mac guys are funny. “Oh, oh, oh. A new app for Mac that isn’t made by Apple Corp or Adobe? See? We are important. Macs rule.”

    • The current version of the iPhone app has offline reading. It’s pretty cool for a free app, and invaluable if you have a library of paid titles.

      If Logos were just an electronic Bible, I would have an easier time agreeing with you. Of course, for seminary students, it’s a pretty affordable electronic library. For pastors or serious students of the Bible it does a lot more than what you can get with a print library.

      Of course, this article didn’t focus on all the functionality of Logos 4, but rather on how one company with a niche product successfully made the transition to the Mac market. I thought that was an interesting story.

  3. To say that the first attempt was lacking is a huge understatement. I was so upset when I got it, and now that it has been abandoned, it’s a slap in the face. This entry into the Mac market has been a blunder in many ways. I would definitely stay away and find a different software solution.

  4. Just some clarification… the screenshot at the beginning of the article (with the graphic of the temple) comes from the Windows version. The Mac version isn’t complete yet and the home screen doesn’t have all the features of the Windows version.

    With that said… I love that Logos has continued their Mac development. I’ve been using their software since 2005 when I bought my first module. When I switched to the Mac I continued using it through VMWare. The first mac version was okay, but it was sorely lacking in functionality. Thankfully, Logos has chosen the path that they are now on with developing the Mac version alongside the Windows version with feature parity. Great stuff!

    • Absolutely right, Sam. I included the screen shot of the Home screen because it is probably the biggest shift in UI for the latest version and it *will* be in the Mac version as it catches up with the Windows release.

  5. I recently bought Logos4 and since the alpha is not fully functioning they sent me a DVD with all the stuff I ordered for the old version. This is a great company that is doing a great job of software development. I am excited to see how it is going to work when all the features are nearly finished.

    Thanks for the great article

    • I got charged for the companion CD and the product is still a rather anemic Alpha. Also checking their forums they never finished the last version of their software for the Mac. I would difinately say wait to all the Mac users out there.