The other day I stumbled across an internet conversation between two employees of another Bible software developer. One made a disparaging comment about the price of our ESV Study Bible module (see Monday's post), and the other questioned the wisdom of pointing people to the "A-team."
The A-team? In case you're too young to remember, or old enough to remember but too sophisticated to have indulged in such low-brow entertainment, The A-Team was an eighties television show about a crack team of American commandos who are on the run for a "crime they didn't commit," and who work as soldiers-of-fortune helping those with nowhere else to turn. This got me thinking. How is Accordance like the A-Team?
Thinking Different: The A-Team was led by Colonel John "Hannibal" Smith, played by George Peppard. (This was back when "Hannibal" was still associated with an ancient Carthaginian general rather than with a fictitious cannibalistic serial killer.) The A-Team's "Hannibal" was known for coming up with unorthodox and even outlandish plans of action. As these plans would unfold, they would look increasingly hopeless, and Hannibal's insistence on moving forward would strike the other members of the team (along with the poor civilian being helped) as increasingly reckless and suicidal. Of course, as with all TV sitcoms, everything would work out in the end, and Hannibal would smile, chomp on his cigar, and announce, "I love it when a plan comes together!" This little catch-phrase soon worked its way into nineteen-eighties popular culture.
Like the A-Team, and Apple, we have a long history of "Thinking different" about Bible software. Many people over the years have looked at us like we were crazy for choosing to develop Accordance exclusively for the Mac. Why, they would ask, would we limit ourselves to five percent (or less) of personal computer users? Why not develop for Windows so that we could serve the widest possible audience? Our answer was always the same: our goal is to make the best Bible software possible, and the Mac enables us to do that in ways that Windows does not.
Just as Hannibal's plans gave every appearance of falling apart before they actually came together, there was a time in the late nineties when it appeared that the Mac platform might collapse underneath us. At the time, every other commercial Mac Bible software developer pulled out of the Mac market or simply let their Mac product die a slow death.
Now, of course, the Mac has become immensely popular and several Windows developers have come out with limited Mac versions of their software. Our biggest challenge this year has been keeping up with all the increased demand as new Mac users look for Bible software designed exclusively for Mac. "I love it when a plan comes together."
"A Crime They Didn't Commit": The A-Team was continually on the run from the Military Police for "a crime they didn't commit." Their commanding officer had ordered them to rob the Bank of Hanoi, which they succeeded in doing. Yet once their commanding officer was killed, there was no proof that they had been acting under orders. So they had committed the act, it's just that the act was not really criminal.
Unlike the A-Team, we're not on the lam and have never been charged with a crime, but after everyone else pulled out of the Mac market, we were sometimes accused of being a "monopoly." The thinking seems to have been that because Accordance was the only choice for full-featured Mac Bible software, the lack of competition would ultimately encourage us to become complacent. The fact is that we always had plenty of competition. Accordance is continually compared with Windows Bible programs, Mac freeware and shareware, and even web-based Bible study solutions. Throughout much of our history, we've had to sell potential users on the merits of the Mac platform as well as the merits of Accordance. That meant that we always had to offer something beyond the best that was available for Windows. Far from resting on our laurels, we have instead consistently had one of the most aggressive development cycles in the industry, which is why Accordance users have enjoyed graphical searching, statistical analysis, diagramming, cutting-edge research tools, root searching, INFER searching, and the like long before anyone else. Today, with two Windows programs offering Mac ports, one offering a Wine- and X11-based solution, and all the others capable of being run in Parallels or Fusion, no one can accuse us of being a monopoly. Nevertheless, Accordance remains the only real choice for users wanting a true Mac-based solution. Perhaps we're guilty after all.
"If you can find them": Those downtrodden, desperate souls wishing to hire the A-Team always had to find them first, and that wasn't necessarily easy. Because they were on the run, the A-Team had to arrange clandestine meetings with their potential clients, typically after putting them through a series of comedic tests.
The Accordance team can be somewhat hard to locate as well. We have an office for our sales staff, but the members of our development team all work out of their own homes. This has several advantages. First, it helps us keep our facility costs low and enables us to invest most of our revenue into ongoing development of the Accordance program and additional modules. Second, it frees us to hire the best people we can find around the world, rather than being limited to those people who are willing to move to Central Florida. Finally, most of us prefer working from home and you can't beat the commute! So while you won't find some impressive edifice of steel and glass with the Accordance name on it if you visit Altamonte Springs, you can nevertheless be sure that the Accordance-Team is happily hard at work.
Perhaps it's because I'm a product of the eighties, but I like this "A-Team" moniker. Now all we need is for Mr. T to endorse us: "I pity the fool who don't use Accordance!"