[Edit 2023/10/23: See specific update for Emerald Chronometer and Emerald Chronometer for the iPad here.]

[Edit: Please also see our updates here and here.]

The tl;dr

After 14 years, Emerald Sequoia LLC will be shutting down at the end of 2023 and our apps will no longer be available.

The details

On November 1, 2023 all of our apps (iOS and WearOS) will be removed from their respective stores.1 Until then, it will be business as usual: The apps will remain in the stores, we will continue to respond promptly to support emails, and we will make critical bug fixes as required. When the apps are pulled from the store, if they are still on your devices they will most likely stay there (no guarantees; this is up to Apple and Google) but they will be unable to be re-downloaded if you change your device or if it needs to be reset. We’ll continue to respond to support requests through Dec 31, but we won’t be able to assist you if an app has been removed from your device. We’ll post again late in 2023 to remind and update you.

The background

As some of you know, we were in Apple’s iPhone App Store on the day the store opened in July 2008 with the first version of Emerald Chronometer, and Emerald Observatory was in the iPad App Store in April 2010, the first week iPad apps were available. The company has always just been the two of us, with no other employees or contractors. We’ve written all of the code, documentation, and web sites, responded personally to all customer support email, and dealt with all of the finances, taxes, and government forms, all on our own. It’s been immensely satisfying to both of us and the best “work” experience we’ve had in the over 80 years of our combined careers.

The situation now is considerably different from when we first started. The App Store has grown from the 500 apps released on opening day to millions now. There are now millions of app developers competing for customer eyes on their products. Niche products like ours, all over a decade old, don’t show up in reviewers’ lists any more. And most importantly, the two of us have found it increasingly difficult to find the time to support these apps.

Nearly all of the work we’ve done in the past 10 years falls into two categories:

1. We’ve done our best to keep up with OS releases and update our apps with versions using the latest development kits. This is nontrivial work: Companies like Apple and Google are constantly improving and enhancing their development kits, and don’t want to continue supporting their older versions. So developers like us, even with apps that don’t change functionally, must periodically update our apps to stay in the store. Looking forward, both Apple and Google have announced that OpenGL, the foundation for our app displays, is deprecated on mobile — that change, when it is required, will be even more ambitious.

This is a problem for a lot of companies, most of which need to show a profit even when their markets are saturated. Many have chosen to move their customers to a subscription model, where customers pay a relatively small amount each year to pay for the updates the apps require to stay current. But we don’t want to force our existing customers, who have already bought our apps, to buy subscriptions, and the stream from new customer subscriptions wouldn’t be significant enough to matter.

2. In 2018 we released a version of Chronometer that runs on actual watch devices running Google’s WearOS. This was a very fun project for us because it meant we could finally wear these faces on our actual wrists as we originally conceived. But here the market has been very disappointing, most probably because Google hides watch-only apps from people searching for them on their phones. Also, perhaps because it is a new platform, the developer churn responding to WearOS updates has been much more than that required by Apple in recent years.

Emerald Sequoia has always been a labor of love, paying back more in fun and in satisfaction than in dollars. But it has reached the point where app revenue no longer covers our overhead, even ignoring the time we spend supporting the apps. And it must be said that the kind of work required to support new hardware and OS releases has little of the fun and satisfaction we started with.

Thank you

Finally, a heartfelt thank you to all of our customers, without whom we would not have had the wonderful experience we’ve had with this company.


  Steve & Bill

  1. Emerald Chronometer and Emerald Chronometer for the iPad will be delisted a bit later, on Dec 15 (see here). ↩︎