The Backlash Against OnSwipe Has Begun

Is looking at this making you angry? You aren't alone.

OnSwipe, the breakout start-up from TechStarsNY that converts websites into iPad-ready HTML5, launched to much fanfare last week.  But now that people have had some time to play around with it, not everyone likes what they see.

Entrepreneur/NYU j-school scholar Dave Winer began a post last night on ScriptingNews with, “I’m really getting annoyed with OnSwipe.” This morning, Mr. Winer tweeted a link to a thread on Hacker News with Bay Area coder Danilo Campos declaring, front-and-center, “Fucking crimony do I hate OnSwipe.”

Why all the haterade? One would think that if anyone was anti-Onswipe, it would be Apple.
After all, using just a line of  Javascript, publishing partners like Hearst, Slate, and Reuters get a slick, touch-enabled sites that let them dodge Apple’s 30% on in-app purchases. Plus these publishers can now sell ads at app prices instead of web prices;  OnSwipe gets a cut of those ads.  But the acrimony is coming from end-users, not Apple.

Mr. Winer’s objections seem to center around what happens to an OnSwipe-enabled WordPress blogs (Automattic is another OnSwipe partner) when you try to view a link on a non-tablet device. Namely the fact that all the content disappears.

“I was looking at Brad Feld’s blog on my iPad, and thought, man that looks nice, I want to show everyone. But when I tried to look at the link on my Mac, all I saw was a tab in the upper-left corner that said “Cover” with an arrow. On my iPad it would take you to a page with an array of Brad’s stories. On my Mac it does nothing.”

Here’s what it looks like on a tablet:

Mr. Winer also objected, rather snarkily, to Automattic founder Matt Mullenwegg’s response to his frustration. Mr. Mullenweg tweeted at Mr. Winer, “We change the code on over 35 times a day, it evolves rapidly – not everyone likes it but hopefully we can find a balance.” Mr. Winer blogged that it reminded him of the Abe Lincoln quote, “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.”

On HackerNews,  a community it should be noted, prone to seeing the worst in things on occasion, the frustration also seemed to be around the WordPress implementation.

Fucking crimony do I hate OnSwipe. Loathe it. It’s just such a waste. It looks stupid, its scrolling feels wrong and it presents everyone’s content identically. It solves absolutely zero problems, creates new ones and is impossible to escape. (I have fantasized about creating a proxy at home to strip out its bullshit.) The irony here being that the iPad is perfect for displaying very nearly everything on the web just as it already is. WordPress blogs look excellent on the iPad without any of this nonsense. OnSwipe has become a perfect tool for preventing me from viewing content I’d otherwise happily read.

Here’s the thing: As a start-up suddenly supporting WordPress’ 18 million odd blogs, bugs and complaints are inevitable. For OnSwipe to succeed, their level of customer support will be key. But providing the kind of feedback they were doling out back in March might not be possible to maintain:

Based on founder Jason Baptiste’s comments on the Hacker News thread, he’s not afraid to dive into the mud-slinging. The Backlash Against OnSwipe Has Begun