All of us in business want to make more sales, generate more revenue and hopefully make more profit.
But the aims of a business have to align with the needs and expectations of the customer. That’s a fundamental part of the agreement.
As I discussed in my last article — Why I owned a Macbook Pro for a day — and what it says to me about the future of Apple — when you buy a product, you don’t only buy the product itself (or, in the case of software, a licence to use it), you buy the support service too.
And when the service is poor, the company has failed to sell you what they promised.
Today’s moan is about Counterpath and their product Bria, a SIP softphone which has grown over the years to include the same features you probably have in five other apps — video messaging, voice chat, contact management etc
I’ve been using Bria software since 2011. At the moment I’m on Bria 4, running on my MacBook Pro.
It does what I need — namely, it’s a decent SIP software phone. I don’t use the video features or the chat features, I have other apps I prefer for that.
We own a few licences for Bria — for our staff that don’t have or want a physical SIP phone, and those with a laptop who travel. It’s been our choice of SIP software since 2011.
Bria 5 was released in June. It doesn’t add anything worthwhile for us. I think it’s improved quality for video calls but, again, we don’t use it for that.
No, Bria 4 is fine for us.
Except, in a few days it won’t be. At least not if our Mac users want to upgrade to High Sierra.
Despite telling customers on their forum who were having problems running on High Sierra beta to wait until until the final release, they have now admitted it will not start under High Sierra.
And they won’t be fixing it either.
I’m not sure what the reason is for it not starting. At first I presumed it was the 32/64-bit change, but from what I can see 32-bit apps are still compatible until next year.
Whatever the reason, speaking as a life-long developer, I can’t imagine it would take long for their team to issue a fix for Bria 4 to work under High Sierra.
Counterpath’s solution? Upgrade to Bria 5. Yes, there is a discount for existing customer to upgrade, but there always is with Bria.
It’s not a matter of whether it’s possible, it’s simply they are chasing sales, revenue and profit. And by their decision here, there are a lot of disgruntled Bria users who will not be contributing to their sales, revenue or profit again.
High Sierra is considered a maintenance release. It’s not a totally new operating system.
And whilst it’s true that Bria 4 isn’t the only app that won’t work under High Sierra — some of Apple’s own products such as Final Cut Studio and Logic Studio won’t work — Bria 4 was still being sold this year.
Those two Apple programmes were discontinued in 2011. While certainly annoying if you still use them, 2011 to 2017 is a fair enough run for the life of a piece of software.
2017 to 2017 is most certainly not.
I’ve contacted Bria directly via a support ticket, and also taken part in some of the many discussions about this on their forum.
The answer from Counterpath was firm. It doesn’t work. We won’t be making it work. You need to upgrade to Bria 5. We have a discounted upgrade price.
No thanks Counterpath.
On one of the forum threads I’ve been involved in, people have been asking for alternatives. I posted a query last night wondering whether they would allow people to recommend alternatives.
I received email notifications to two new messages to the thread overnight. Both suggesting alternatives.
When I looked at the thread, those posts were deleted and the topic has been locked.
Well played Counterpath. Not only have you screwed your users by refusing to make a program sold as recently as a few months ago compatible with High Sierra, but you’re now censoring users from finding alternatives.
That’s your choice of course, it’s your forum. But at least on your forum it was kept ‘in house’. Once you stop customers discussing it there, it will naturally go outside on to the wider internet.
So, I face a choice. Upgrade to High Sierra, with all the benefits of keeping up-to-date with the modern macOS, or ignore the upgrade and keep running Bria 4.
Obviously, I’m going to upgrade. And I will stop using Bria.
If I find an open source SIP phone good enough I’ll use that. If I have to pay another company for an alternative, I’ll happily do that.
One thing I won’t be doing, ever again, is paying Counterpath. So much for increasing your sales, revenue and profit. And judging by the forums, I’m not the only one.
Recommendations for mac (and windows) alternatives more than welcome. And — gross personal rudeness aside — no censorship here ;)
Thanks for reading. If you’ve enjoyed it, or if Counterpath’s attitude has angered you and if you want to help put pressure on companies who do ‘the wrong thing’, please clap and share with friends. Thank you.
Counterpath have deleted some of my posts on their customers forum. Last I checked I was a customer. They have also deleted posts by other disgruntled customers. Incredible.
I’ve now been banned (‘access restricted’) to the Counterpath forum for ‘abuse’. I posted nothing abusive at all and I would very much like Counterpath to show how I have been abusive. I simply questioned why my posts and the posts of other customers were being deleted. In my last post asked if the person deleting them was the CEO and if not suggested he should probably check with the CEO before he continues deleting paying customers’ valid comments.
Update #3 (30th September):
Counterpath have again closed threads discussing this issue with the following comment posted yesterday by Derek Jacobs, forum administrator:
When CounterPath launched its new Bria 5 Mac release on June 22nd, we encouraged all existing Bria 4 users to upgrade to our new Bria 5 product, to ensure they remained on an actively supported code base. With the September 25th release of Apple’s High Sierra (10.13) macOS update, many Bria 4 users have encountered an issue whereby their Bria 4 app no longer runs.
CounterPath, like most other software companies, periodically releases major product upgrades for which there is an upgrade fee. CounterPath does not have control over whether Apple (and other OS platform developers) will include OS changes that deprecate previously supported functionality, nor do we control whether or not our users upgrade to the latest OS release. While we are very focused on keeping our existing users happy, it is not practical for CounterPath to continue to develop software updates for our legacy products.
What Derek completely ignores in this scenario is they fact there are people who bought Bria 4 before June 22nd. Possibly on June 21st.
Their only option — if they wish to keep their operating system up-to-date — appears to be to pay for an upgrade to Bria 5. Counterpath offer a discounted upgrade but it’s still around $30. Why should someone who bought Bria 4 just before June 22nd be ‘encouraged’ to pay more for an upgrade at all? But especially now when it stops working on the latest maintenance release of Sierra.
A decent company would either take the time to make Bria 4 work on High Sierra, or at the least give users who bought Bria 4 less than a year before June 22nd 2017 when Bria 5 came out a free-upgrade.
For the record, my last purchase from Counterpath — Bria 4 — was June 1st 2016, so I wouldn’t qualify under this free-upgrade proposal. That’s fine. My relationship with Counterpath and Bria is over. But customers have posted — although you won’t find their posts anymore as they’ve been deleted — who bought Bria 4 just before 22nd June and they deserve their app to last longer than 3 or 4 months.
Finally, I’ve yet to have any response from Counterpath about my alleged ‘abuse’ that caused them to limit my access to the forum and to stop me posting. Last I checked I was a customer, and I don’t believe anything I have posted could be classed as abuse. I’m still waiting to hear their justification for this apart from the obvious attempt to keep disgruntled customers quiet.
I can’t even submit a support ticket to ask why I’ve been banned because, well, my ‘account is banned’. Seriously Counterpath? This is how you treat paying customers?
Update #4 (October 4th)
Although I am still banned from posting on the Counterpath forum (and have still yet to have any reply from them as to what ‘abuse’ I posted) I can still read it and customers are complaining that even Bria 5 crashes on start up under High Sierra. Counterpath have suggested a couple of things (the first one was to restart after upgrading to High Sierra... doh), and even suggested the fault could be people upgrading over Bria 4 and telling them to uninstall 5, then 4 if they have it, delete some folders by hand, and then re-install and set everything up again from scratch. The only problem is, that isn’t working either apparently.
Glad I refused to upgrade.