In June of 2009, Apple announced Snow Leopard, the new version of Mac OS X. Instead of adding big, impressive new features, Snow Leopard — the successor to Leopard — had a singular focus: refinement. Better performance, more polish, fewer bugs. Snow Leopard’s biggest feature was that it had no new features.
2023 will be Nebula’s Snow Leopard.
For the last four years, we’ve raced from milestone to milestone, adding new features, supporting new content types, and putting apps on new platforms. We’re proud of the work we’ve done, but when you’re constantly rushing to get to the next thing, you accumulate debt. Design debt, technical debt, expectational debt. We have tons of it. For Nebula to be what we dream it to be, we need to take the time to pay that off.
We recently posted a Reddit thread for subscribers to share their thoughts on the parts of the experience they felt could use improvement. When the dust settled, I was grateful for two things. One, every single post on that thread was thoughtful, kind, respectful, and supportive. The feedback was genuinely very useful. But two, there were absolutely no surprises for us. Every complaint we saw, every suggestion, every bug was something we’ve encountered or documented or captured from support emails.
Using Nebula should be a premium experience. When you sit down to watch a Nebula video, you should get lost in what you’re watching. When you’re looking for something to watch, it should be easy to find a great video or a great new creator. When you finish watching episode two of Jet Lag, Nebula should make it easy to get to episode three. Nebula should reward curiosity and exploration. This service costs you money, and our job is to create a low-friction system for you to enjoy the work you want to see from the creators you want to support.
“No features” doesn’t actually mean no features in the strictest sense. Recommendations, playlists, better player controls, and lots of other improvements are on the immediate roadmap. We consider these improvements to be “quality of life” features. Things that enhance the experience and remove friction. There are hundreds of little details, little pieces of the overall experience, that aren’t currently as refined as they could be. But they will be.
As we’ve discussed this plan with creators, staff, and audience, it has been truly galvanizing. I don’t think we’ve been as unified as a team on all fronts since the inception of Nebula itself. Sharing the plan publicly is partially about telegraphing our plan to the world, but also largely about keeping ourselves accountable. This is the mission: to polish the rough edges and make Nebula the best place to enjoy the videos and podcasts our creators produce. Every step we take this year will be in service of that mission. If you’d like to join us, keep reporting bugs and making suggestions. We’re listening.
P.S. Take a look at Apple’s promotional graphic for Snow Leopard. It’s almost too perfect.