Reflection on Reviews

Posted on by Nathan Jones

A few days ago, I was pleasantly surprised to read this review of ChemTrix for iPhone.

Oh My Goodness, Yes! ★★★★★ by LuckyFourteens - Version 1.6 - Mar 11, 2013

I had the choice of either this or extra plum sauce for my meal and I chose this. I do not regret my purchase and I l-o-v-e plum sauce. Most useful app ever.

It must be one of the kindest things that anyone's said about my work. I love plum sauce, too, especially with deep-fried spring rolls, so I'm thrilled to learn exactly how valuable ChemTrix has been for at least one hungry, plum-sauce-loving person out there.

Forrest Gump was fond of saying, "Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get."

And he was right. I take great pains to make my apps the best they can be, but I am always nervous when I release them into the wild to face the scrutiny of hundreds of millions of people. I never know exactly what response they're gonna get.

I'm happy to say that reviews of ChemTrix have generally been positive. It has received 110 ratings worldwide, of which 88 are five-star. I am humbled by the great things my users have said about the product I've worked so hard to develop, and I'm grateful that they've taken the time to leave such encouraging words.

It's comforting to bask in the golden glow of praise, but it's not so easy to confront the cold, harsh light of criticism.

A Dutch user said:

Zo dom... ★ by Mrich01 - Version 1.5 - Nov 23, 2012

Zo dom... Zo simpel!!! Als je dit nodig hebt kun je beter wat anders gaan studeren!!

(Despite my Afrikaans heritage, I don't speak Dutch. Google translates this as: "So stupid ... So simple! If you need something else you better start studying!")

It would be easy to brush off this one-star review as being besides the point: Yes, I can do long division manually, but that doesn't mean I don't appreciate the convenience, speed, and reliability of of my HP 48GX! However, it's worthwhile to consider the meta-question that this criticism raises: is ChemTrix a product that fills a genuine need? Related to this is the economic question: is the problem that ChemTrix solves an itch that people are willing to pay to scratch, particularly when there are numerous free competitors?

I want to answer "yes" to both these questions and indeed my livelihood depends upon it. Honestly, however, it is too early to know.

I've compared ChemTrix to other offerings in terms of features, design, and useability. Of course, I can't be objective about it, but I feel that ChemTrix stands up very well to the competition, and I am committed to expanding its feature set in order to make its value proposition much stronger. In other words, I want ChemTrix to be able to scratch many, much more annoying itches.

My goal is to make ChemTrix the best chemistry calculator on iOS. And there's a lot more that I can do to make this a reality.

I'm grateful for each and every sale. A big thank you to everyone who's bought a copy. I'm always eager to hear your feedback. Leave a comment on the App Store, or contact me by email at You can also follow me on Twitter.

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