Nitro Acquires PDFpen from Smile

Originally published at: Nitro Acquires PDFpen from Smile - TidBITS

Smile’s PDFpen, which has long provided a powerful yet inexpensive alternative to Adobe Acrobat Pro DC, has been acquired by Nitro Software for $6 million in cash.

One thing I’m afraid will happen is what usually happens when a Windows-centric software company acquires a Mac-centric software: the Mac software is used as a base to vastly improve the Windows software; the Mac software is then left twisting in the wind before it is terminated.

I still remember TextExpander as the first app that went subscription only for me. They wanted me to pay 20$ or so a year for something I had paid 20$ in total and wanted to give me features I didn’t need. Why does anyone still use TextExpander?

Not only an alternative to Acrobat Pro. Bought it ten years ago out of frustration with Preview’s unreliability from version to version, and value it highly.

As a programmer it’s always astounding to me when I hear how many employees a company that consists of basically one program has. What are the other 195 of them doing?

Agreed. PDFPenPro has been my go-to PDF manager for many years, and I always purchased the updates. I hope that your prediction turns out not to be true, but I’m with you: it’s certainly happened many times.

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Thanks for taking the time to get the story behind the headlines. It’s usually hard to know what to make of tech mergers, and this provides a lot of useful context!

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I believe many of the employees are joining Nitro, so maybe the new owners won’t screw it up?? Like Apple did when they bought Siri and thought the developers would do what they were told.

The entire engineering and product management team is joining Nitro, so things should be pretty stable.

I hate subscription apps. Leaves the user abandoned if/when the developer decides to bail out.

For me the question of TextExpander, which I left when they went subscription, is why would anyone use that when Typinator is out there :wink:

Bungie Halo!

Hopefully they will not be turning PDFPen Pro into a subscription model. If so I will need to abandon the product and find an alternative as a individual user I avoid subscription models. Unlike businesses that can write off such subscriptions as a business tax, they are not tax deductible to individual and I choose not to be an investor or a stakeholder in the company for every application I use.

If you use even a free piece of software, you become a stakeholder in the company that makes it (though not necessarily a particularly important one). Conversely, I don’t think you qualify as an investor in any of the streaming services, newspapers, or magazines that you might subscribe to, unless you have also bought shares in the company that provides them. So I’m not sure what the subscription model of paying for software has to do with being an investor or stakeholder (saying nothing about whether it’s a good model or not).


When I purchase a subscription ot a streaming service, newpaper or magazine I am purchasing a service that provides information on an consistence reoccuring basis. When I purchase an App or program I am buying a product that aside from occasional changes (updates) remains stable that I use with my own data. I am of the opinion that I should not be paying a company on a frequent regular basis to insure that I can access my own data when I need to and that if I fail to pay, that data that I created is no longer accessable. The bottom line is that what you mentioned are services. PDFPenPro is a product that allows me to access and modify my own data and does not provide anything new or useful other than updates to the actual App which I can choose to do or not if it fails to offer any improvements that I need or can use over my current version. I also take exception to companies that release software with significant bugs, then expect users to be volunteer beta testers by submitting bug feedback without any compensation for their time and efforts so that companies can release fee based upgrades that are primary bug fixes with some minor user improvement in an attempt to justify the upgrade fee while profiting from the work of the volunteer beta testers instead of investing in quality SQA to insure that significant bugs are fixed before release of the product.

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This. An amazing sentence and THE primary reason why switching to or making a software product for individuals subscription-based implies a HUGE responsibility for the developer. Dev’s, seriously, decide whether you are up to it. Will you provide responsive service? Will you address shortcomings and fix bugs in a TIMELY manner?