It pains me to see NC in its "early abandonment" stages as I was (emotionally) involved in this tool for a long time. A few quitu thoughts:
This kind of software is definitely niche, but I'd believe it should
be able to support a rich lifestyle of a single programmer.
There are people who'd pay well for this stuff (https://kk.org/thetechnium/1000-true-fans/
). It's not a Finder replacement for the masses. It's for power users. Specific power users.
I believe NC's problems right now are on the marketing side and its value proposition. What's this for? What do people on Mac look for, what do they need, lack? I don't believe they wake up at night to search for "commander" or "two panel manager". That's what us, dinosaurs from DOS and PC times do (and that's the market Total Commander lives off). On Mac it's different. I've noticed people mental models here are bouncing between Finder and Terminal.
Pathfinder and other tools market themselves as better Finder. Fine enough. Good market for them, maybe.
But NC, because of the great technology and integration with the shell, had the rare opportunity of being a "better Terminal". It would have to sell the concept better though. Pro devs on Mac live in the terminal. They don't see a point of better Finder with two panes. But... something enhancing the terminal that could speed up their workflow? This could work.
And that's what NC does already! It has to be sold to them though.
Sublime Text is a good example and something I've been trying to convince Mike to model upon for a long time
There were plenty of editors when it came. Initially, when it tried to market itself as a "DirectX based editor" or something like that it did not catch on at all. But then, few years later, they (well, he actually, single programmer) started showing features like multiple cursors
and fuzzy search and presented it well with clever animations. And everyone was sold. For $70 dolars a piece
It's interesting to see Michael Herrmann (fman) here. I though he did a very good job marketing fman so far and it seems he is in fact modeling after Sublime Text (go to anything feature, etc). I'm watching his blog, posts on Hacker News and he's doing a good work
It's a pity it's not working out financially that well yet.
But as I said, my opinion is that the macOS devs are not looking for better Finder nor a two panel manager.
They might bite a more powerful terminal