I think that most of the UFT users are very disappointed by the announcement of the demise of UFT development.I have suspected for more than a year now that this was going to happen.I was just not as vocal as Bubba!:-)
The reason for my pessimism was simple.Prior to my retirement, I worked as an engineer for the largest manufacturer of Telecommunication equipment in the USA.The area that I worked in made components for the electromechanical switching equipment (That's the stuff that is in the telephone company central offices that uses relays and other mechanical switches.) After the introduction of the Electronic Switching Systems (i.e., computer based), the demand for these systems dropped dramatically.However, there was a large demand for replacement components to keep the electromechanical switching equipment working.(The minimum design life of these systems was 40 years!)And price was not an issue for these replacement parts!One could charge $40 for a component that five years earlier was sold for $3.25.Even with that type of pricing power, the income flow based on the resources required was still diminishing.A decision to exit this business was made.It was not a universally accepted decision.Those of us who were working in the area had intense feelings that these products still had more life and profitability to the company left in it.
You may be wondering why I told this story.I think it may have been obvious to many of you (if you have been following this board) that there was not complete agreement within Genealogy.com about the demise of UFT.There were a number of people working there - programmers, software testers, technical writers, support people - who had worked on this product long enough that they looked on it almost as if it was their child.They were probably more pained than we users were.I can assure you that this decision was not popular with them and they probably fought long and hard to keep UFT alive.I would imagine that some, if not most, are without a job today.
Let's look at genealogy software.There appears to be two market segments.One is for the beginner who is just starting out.Most of these people never get beyond this stage.This appears to be the audience at which FTM and a few other genealogy programs are aimed.The second market is for those who take genealogy as a serious hobby and are dedicated researchers.UFT and TMG are the two major products which were catering to this market.
I don't believe that this market niche is very large in terms of the number of programs being sold and it was divided between these two companies.UFT attempted to grow its market by two means.
First, it lowered its price to complete directly in cost with FTM and the other entry level programs.(I bought both 2.9 and 3.0 UFT versions for $9.95 each after rebates.I cannot imagine that there was much profit to TLC and Genealogy.com at that price level!)The objective was apparently to gain customers from both FTM and TMG with the low price.This goal was plainly not achieved, and eventually Genealogy.com ended up with both FTM and UFT.
Second, by lowering the price, it probably hoped to gain significant market share from new purchasers who were entering the genealogy field for the first time, or buying the software as a gift for someone else.I suspect that this approach may have backfired because of the high learning curve required by UFT.
I have read some comments on this board about the desirability of competition.Competition can be both good and bad.If the potential market is large, then competition can be very healthy and beneficial for both the customers and for the company(ies)that can deliver what those customers want.If the market is small, then it may be come so segmented that no one company can make enough profit to provide support and continue product development.What we customers want is a company that will listen to our needs and wants, and will deliver a suitable product and support that product with prompt service.For our part, we have to be ready to pay a reasonable price for aproduct that meets those objectives.Having two, three or four programs that attempt to service the small market of serious genealogists may not provide any of these companies with the resources to provide a really great program unless prices rise back up to the level they were at the beginning of the 1990's.We may be in the situation where we will have to work with a single company and support them to obtain the type of product that we want and need.Should that company fail in this objective, I feel certain that someone will recognize that there is an opportunity and develop a product that will.In the 1990's, even large corporations realized that "getting into bed" with their suppliers made good business sense by ensuring the timely deliveries of the highest quality product.They often found that the "cheapest" price did not deliver the quality required!
Most of us felt like we lost an old friend when we learned of the demise of UFT development.We were angry at the decision and we lashed out at the unfairness of life.But each of us are going to have to move beyond that anger and make some hard choices about what software to use for genealogy.I know that I am now at that point.
For my part, I realize that I am into genealogy for the long term, and I also realize that UFT will not work forever on future hardware and operating systems.Someday, I will be forced to move to another program by one or both of these factors.I understand that I will have to move and clean up the data after the transfer.I also know that the longer I wait the more clean-up I will have.I am not nearing the completion of any project at this time, so I am planning to make the move sooner rather than waiting.I can easily understand that users who are in the final stages of publishing their genealogy research would be most reluctant to make a change before they finish their project.
It is time of each person to evaluate his position, make a decision about his course of action,and get back to the pleasant task researching our ancestors.