Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Family Tree Maker's Curtain Call

Did you hear the rumble in the genealogy community?

It came after announced that they would stop selling Family Tree Maker at the end of December. T-minus three weeks and counting!
"...we’ve taken a hard look at the declining desktop software market and the impact this has on being able to continue to provide product enhancements and support that our users need. With that, we’ve made the decision to stop selling Family Tree Maker as of December 31, 2015."
The announcement emphasized that tech support would be provided to current software users "at least through January 1, 2017," but that did little to soften the blow.

The reaction from the genealogy community was swift and fierce. Hundreds of angry comments poured in within minutes of the announcement. Folks were overwhelmingly stunned by the sudden decision; caught off guard by the lack of warning.

By the end of the day, nearly 4,000 comments - uniformly negative - expressed dismay and extolled threats to cancel their subscription services with Ancestry. One commenter summed up the angry mob's sentiment:
"Very disappointing and poor decision. It will almost certainly mean ending my Ancestry subscription. I find FTM so superior to working via the ancestry site directly. Whoever made this decision should be out looking for another job!!"
Social media also played host to a slew of shocked and disappointed Tweets and Facebook posts.

Can you blame them for being upset? After all, the product is billed on its site as "the #1-selling family history software." It's not every day that a number one selling product is discontinued with less than a month's notice.

Ancestry says they intend to focus on their website where business continues to grow. Clearly, they believe the future of genealogy and family trees is in the cloud and not stuck on a hard drive. I get that, but change is hard. The software has been around for years (perhaps decades?). Letting go is going to take some time.

There will be those who refuse to let go, and there are other desktop software vendors like RootsMagic already jumping into the fray to capitalize on the wave of displaced customers.

My advice to Ancestry, in the coming year, is to look at the elements of Family Tree Maker that its customers love so much (like the ability to make and print comprehensive, tailored reports) and find ways to integrate them into the website. Frankly, the online site would be better for it and maybe, just maybe, it would quell some of the ire.

What's your take on Ancestry's surprise decision to stop selling Family Tree Maker? Are cloud-based pedigrees the future of genealogy?

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