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Last post Author Topic: [rant] Seriously? Software pricing is officially nuts  (Read 10891 times)

zridling

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[rant] Seriously? Software pricing is officially nuts
« on: November 18, 2009, 09:40:26 AM »
I've seen several shareware programs double and triple their prices recently and I'm shocked that they have the chutzpah. Here's the latest in my inbox:

acdseepro3-2010g.gif

The guys at IDM want $280 for a lifetime license now, hey, but it's on sale for $180 if you hurry. All hail donationware, freeware, and a bunch of open source apps, otherwise, I'm saying a big "Hell naw" to these prices. Sorry folks, I have a limit, and lately I'd rather pay the bills.

 >:(

Josh

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Re: [rant] Seriously? Software pricing is officially nuts
« Reply #1 on: November 18, 2009, 09:52:04 AM »
And this is why I dislike most commercial software products. However, one has to look at whether or not they NEED a lifetime license or if paying for an upgrade WHEN IT IS NEEDED is justifiable. Most users can purchase one program and be happy with the features it provides in that version. I feel that offering upgrades for a year or a set period is reasonable for most purposes. Lifetime licenses, in the eyes of a developer, are not reasonable to support forever. The additional cost involved is to offset the added costs of supporting that user for "a lifetime". Ad Muncher is another program who has raised the cost of lifetime subscriptions. Originally a lifetime license cost 24.95, then they removed that option and went with the major version policy and now they are offering a lifetime license for approximately $100 USD as well as a subscription model on a per year basis.

And this is why people end up SETTLING for freeware. In my usage, as well as  several people I work with, most settle for freeware while admitting that the payware programs are GENERALLY superior in usability and functionality. Yes, I hate the high prices but I will pay for a program if the usability and functionality of the commercial product far exceed that of the freeware product. That doesn't mean I will buy a lifetime license as I generally don't require every upgrade that comes along. I will buy a lifetime license for a product I feel I will use for a long period of time, if offered.

40hz

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Re: [rant] Seriously? Software pricing is officially nuts
« Reply #2 on: November 18, 2009, 10:26:56 AM »
As annoying as software pricing can get, I still think it should be up to the developers to decide what they want to charge - and up to their customers to agree or disagree by voting with their wallets.

One point: the 25Gb online storage part of the deal is no biggy. Microsoft will provide you with a 25Gb SkyDrive account that's free for the asking. All you need is a (free) Hotmail account to sign up for it.

That being said, some people do love acdsee, so it may be worth the extra money to some people to go the acdsee route.

Since I'm not a photographer, I'm not really qualified to assess just how much superior their photoediting and workflow capabilities are when stacked up against similar programs. I used to own a licensed copy a while back. I thought it was a decent enough app, but (unlike PSP) I was never that blown away by what it could do.

What I do find interesting is that most of the glowing comments seem to come from photographers and photography magazine reviews. The reviews you read in computer circles, while also generally positive, are much less enthusiastic about acdsee's technical superiority compared to everything else out there.

I don't know if this is an indication that photographers know a lot more - or a lot less - about what's available than the 'computer crowd' does. Fortunately, there's a 30-day trial available so it's easy enough to check out the claims for yourself.

Something to think about anyway. :)

-----

Note: In this current business climate I'm a little skeptical about the recent proliferation of "lifetime" license offers. From an economic viewpoint, it doesn't make sense for any company that wants to remain in business to make such an offer. What often happens is they either go out of business - or pull the classic "rename the product" trick (aka the fruity loop move) to get out from under their lifetime free upgrade agreement.

Anytime I see the word "lifetime" I immediately think: Yours, ours, or the product's - whichever comes first!

 ;D

« Last Edit: November 18, 2009, 01:01:22 PM by 40hz »

rgdot

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Re: [rant] Seriously? Software pricing is officially nuts
« Reply #3 on: November 18, 2009, 10:39:21 AM »
Similar to what's already mentioned, lifetime licenses are really a leap of faith, never mind financially but in other ways too. If you are buying the product now presumably you like a product as it is now, by paying a lifetime fee there is an assumption not only that only the product will be around but it will a)continue development at a reasonable pace b)it will add features that you may not know about now but perhaps be interested when you see it.

Carol Haynes

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Re: [rant] Seriously? Software pricing is officially nuts
« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2009, 10:45:12 AM »
That's why I never upgraded to ACDSee Pro version 2 - and I certainly won't be going to 3.

I know a lot of people like ACDSee and I used it for a long time but every version they produce has loads of bugs in it and most of these 'upgrades' seem to me to be most bug fixes and new bugs. Call me cynical if you like ....

steeladept

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Re: [rant] Seriously? Software pricing is officially nuts
« Reply #5 on: November 18, 2009, 11:00:33 AM »
My problem with lifetime licenses are that they are not lifetime licenses not for me, not for the developer, and definitely not for the product.  What I mean by that is that the developer only provides them as long as they are willing or able to support them.  After that, a simple name change, called a "new product" with questionable change of feature set and it becomes a new "lifetime" license option.  Moreover, the old product may or may not still be supported, but there is rarely, if ever, changes that make it a continuing product offer.  Hence I NEVER will buy another lifetime license.  They are a marketing gimmick only as far as I am concerned.

I have purchased 3 such "lifetime licenses" for products that were further developed into "different" products so they could continue to profit.  All before any changed.  I think this is more than a few bad examples, but rather the norm - it just hasn't happened VERY widespread yet.

Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with the developers making the money on it - I just have a problem with the developer offering a "lifetime" license, then changing it, and not following through with the existing base that bought into it.  At very least, they should refund the difference on the lifetime license and provide a one time upgrade to the latest license.  That way at least it is as if you paid for it once and got the upgrades to this point for free.  After all, the developer got to use the money to this point.  I would think of the previous free upgrades as "interest" for the refunded monies.  Personal opinion.

Josh

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Re: [rant] Seriously? Software pricing is officially nuts
« Reply #6 on: November 18, 2009, 11:28:42 AM »
That and with lifetime licenses they simply add a pro version or a "premium feature" such as usb portability at an extra charge. There are all sorts of ways to rake money out of existing lifetime license holders. Collectorz.com will likely do this soon and start charging a subscription fee to their "fantastic new method of accessing movie information" (Ask Alwin, he'll verify this). Lifetime rarely is and I think it unfair to judge a company who once offered them and changed their mind (as long as they honor existing lifetime license holder). All developers deserve to be compensated and with a lifetime license, you end up spending more to support these users than what they paid originally.

40hz

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Re: [rant] Seriously? Software pricing is officially nuts
« Reply #7 on: November 18, 2009, 01:02:54 PM »
Call me cynical if you like ....

I think "experienced" would be a more accurate a term.  :) :Thmbsup:


40hz

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Re: [rant] Seriously? Software pricing is officially nuts
« Reply #8 on: November 18, 2009, 01:04:54 PM »
All developers deserve to be compensated and with a lifetime license, you end up spending more to support these users than what they paid originally.

Agree 100%. Just one more reason not to offer a lifetime license in the first place. 8)

It's also not a question of whether or not they deserve to be compensated. (No points are given for effort or penmanship once you get out of grade school.) If they're running a business, they NEED to be compensated. If they primarily want to be 'patrons of the art,' they're better off running a FOSS project and inviting other people help them with their development efforts.
 8)


« Last Edit: November 18, 2009, 01:15:57 PM by 40hz »

Josh

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Re: [rant] Seriously? Software pricing is officially nuts
« Reply #9 on: November 18, 2009, 01:19:48 PM »
Amen. Many users complain when a company switches from originally providing a product as a lifetime license, back when it wasn't very well known, and switch after it takes off and they have to provide more support than was intended. I truly hate when people complain about that. I also dislike lifetime licenses, in practice, as they rarely pan out and the user who bought one thing gets screwed because the company renames a product and sells it as new. Please note: Cases like AnyDVD HD I do NOT CONSIDER a violation to this because the HD addon was in fact an upgrade to the original DVD/CD ONLY product.

Innuendo

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Re: [rant] Seriously? Software pricing is officially nuts
« Reply #10 on: November 18, 2009, 02:24:40 PM »
Lots of good points in this thread, but I feel obligated to point out that ACDSee Pro referenced in the OP is ACD System's direct competitor to Adobe's Lightroom & aimed at professional photographers. ACD Systems has a product aimed at 'the rest of us' (ACDSee) that's considerably cheaper. I'm not going to comment on usability or bugs of these programs as this is not what this thread is about, but the pricing for ACDSee Pro is in line with its competitors geared towards a user base who use these programs to make their living.

On the subject of lifetime licenses I have been very blessed. I have bought AnyDVD and later upgraded to HD (I agree with Josh on his sentiments about HD being a violation of the spirit of the license), Newsbin Pro, Ad Muncher, Alcohol 120%, PowerArchiver and ReGet Deluxe. I have also recently won a lifetime license to Total Commander here on DC. My only disappointment regarding any of these programs is that ReGet's development seems to have stalled, but they have gone long periods without releasing versions before.

The Newsbin & Total Commander authors are staunch supporters of the lifetime license philosophy. I believe they would have to experience something very serious to change their opinions. Both products have been around for years and years and years. Sure, something may change in regards to the licensing of any of these programs, but over the years I've gotten more than my money's worth out of any of them so my grapes wouldn't be too sour.

Lifetime licenses or not, pricing is a tricky thing. In my mind, I am going to be more likely to pay more for a program that I use every day as opposed to one I may use 3 times a year. I am also more apt to purchase a program that will enhance my ability to earn money.

For all others, I'm proud to be a member of Donation Coder where Mouser regularly corners software authors in dark alleyways and shakes them down to get us the awesome discounts on software that makes a lot of those software prices seem more palatable.

edbro

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Re: [rant] Seriously? Software pricing is officially nuts
« Reply #11 on: November 18, 2009, 02:27:12 PM »
Nothing can top Quicken. They change the file format for online banking downloads every few years, forcing you to upgrade so as not to lose functionality.

40hz

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Re: [rant] Seriously? Software pricing is officially nuts
« Reply #12 on: November 18, 2009, 02:31:45 PM »
Amen. Many users complain when a company switches from originally providing a product as a lifetime license, back when it wasn't very well known, and switch after it takes off and they have to provide more support than was intended. I truly hate when people complain about that. I also dislike lifetime licenses, in practice, as they rarely pan out and the user who bought one thing gets screwed because the company renames a product and sells it as new. Please note: Cases like AnyDVD HD I do NOT CONSIDER a violation to this because the HD addon was in fact an upgrade to the original DVD/CD ONLY product.

I was just thinking, they might be a lot smarter if they called what they were offering something like a charter user or early adopter special license offer. This makes it very clear that the what's being offered is a limited-time reward for being an early purchaser of the product.

When you say "lifetime", most people think "for as long as I want to use it." So rather than get into philosophical hair-splitting or legal chicanery, why not just call it what is really is and be done with it?

If I were making such an offer, I'd probably word it something like this:

Quote
As you may know, it's extremely difficult to get people to purchase a brand new software product.

In many ways it's similar what first time political candidates face trying to get people to vote for them. So we're borrowing a page from old-school politics by offering you a bribe to elect our candidate.

Here's the deal:

If you purchase a licensed copy of our super-duper deluxe product from us right now, we will allow you to download and use all future editions of this product at no additional charge. This offer will remain in effect for as long as we continue to release this product.

This is our way of rewarding you for taking a chance on us when we (quite frankly) need all the paying customers we can get.

Please note: this is a special offer . It may be withdrawn at any time. And once it is, it will never be offered again.

So if you're interested, now is the time to collect your bribe while it is still available.

I think something like that would go a long way towards managing customer expectations and avoid any confusion over exactly what is being offered. ;D 8)

« Last Edit: November 18, 2009, 02:33:26 PM by 40hz »

40hz

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Re: [rant] Seriously? Software pricing is officially nuts
« Reply #13 on: November 18, 2009, 03:09:40 PM »
but the pricing for ACDSee Pro is in line with its competitors geared towards a user base who use these programs to make their living.

That may very well be true. But since I'm not a professional photographer, I'm in no position to determine just how accurate that claim is.

And the justification "this is what we charge because that's what everyone else is charging for similiar products" doesn't do much more than beg the argument for a price tag  being what it is.

But even if I'm not a pro photographer, I'm still a fairly clever person who could benefit from an explanation of how a product like this is different enough to spend this kind of money on.

Somebody like me would be very  interested in understanding just what that something is that separates the "pro" from the "consumer" version. In short, what is the unique sales proposition that differentiates it from lesser or competing products.

Not saying it isn't. I'm just saying I don't get it.

But I guess if I were a photographer, I wouldn't be asking to begin with. ;D


f0dder

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Re: [rant] Seriously? Software pricing is officially nuts
« Reply #14 on: November 18, 2009, 04:02:06 PM »
That's why I never upgraded to ACDSee Pro version 2 - and I certainly won't be going to 3.

I know a lot of people like ACDSee and I used it for a long time but every version they produce has loads of bugs in it and most of these 'upgrades' seem to me to be most bug fixes and new bugs. Call me cynical if you like ....
That last decent version of ACDSee was... let me see if I recall correctly... version 2.44 or something, I believe. Back then they had a LEAN_AND_MEAN (and pretty darn fast, app-load as well as pic-load) application that did what it was supposed to, and did it well. Then they started adding features that didn't belong in that application. Same story as with NERO Burning ROM.

As for licenses... I think developers should stop offering lifetime licenses. It means they'll eventually lack a revenue stream, and will have to do überleim things like saying "Oh, MyApp no longer exists, but you can buy (a lifetime license for) the new and improve MyApp Pro! - bad bad.

Stick with your core features, make new apps when new features don't fit with your existing apps, stick with a sane licensing scheme (major-version works well in my mind - as long as there's (at least relatively) major new features, and not just arbitrary version bumps).
- carpe noctem

Dormouse

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Re: [rant] Seriously? Software pricing is officially nuts
« Reply #15 on: November 18, 2009, 04:13:09 PM »
But even if I'm not a pro photographer, I'm still a fairly clever person who could benefit from an explanation of how a product like this is different enough to spend this kind of money on.

Somebody like me would be very  interested in understanding just what that something is that separates the "pro" from the "consumer" version. In short, what is the unique sales proposition that differentiates it from lesser or competing products.
...
But I guess if I were a photographer, I wouldn't be asking to begin with. ;D

There's a crude comparison on their website giving an idea of the features that differentiate the products.
I agree that if you were a pro photographer (or a very keen amateur), you wouldn't be asking the question because you would already know what features you are looking for in the software.

I can't say I've ever considered ACDSee Pro as really being one to consider in that market though.

As for price, this really is all about efficiency whether for Pro or Keen Amateur market. Both have a lot of photos to process and little time to waste on doing it. And the price is not a major issue as it is only a fraction of the price of the equipment being used (and usually only a fraction of the price of the equipment being replaced annually). And part of the need for updated software is the need to keep up with the new bodies.
« Last Edit: November 18, 2009, 05:31:09 PM by Dormouse »

zridling

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Re: [rant] Seriously? Software pricing is officially nuts
« Reply #16 on: November 18, 2009, 05:24:13 PM »
There's a cutpoint to what any individual program is worth. Josh makes a good point: if you need it, you need it. Justify the cost. Carol the flip side: if you don't need it, enjoy the last good version as long as you like.

Also consider that most DC members are extraordinary users, i.e., they use more than one program that requires annual licensing or subscription fees. To me it's similar to going to a restaurant and being served an $90 steak. That better be one damn fine steak! Moreover, I feel bad paying that much for a steak, when I could cook my own perfectly to my liking for $15.

Carol Haynes

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Re: [rant] Seriously? Software pricing is officially nuts
« Reply #17 on: November 18, 2009, 07:13:51 PM »
Carol[/b] the flip side: if you don't need it, enjoy the last good version as long as you like.

I got upgraded to ACDSee Pro (v1) for free IIRC. It was really buggy and their RAW engine for Canon was awful. I reported the problems and was told they would be fixed in version 2. The problem had been there through previous versions of the non-Pro vbersion so I wasn't going to pay something like $150 on the off chance they may have fixed a serious issue in a Pro product.

I use Adobe LightRoom now. I got a free version 1 (as I used to use a product Adobe bought out and they migrated customers to LightRoom) and I paid for the upgrade to version 2 which was considerably cheaper than the ACDSee upgrade prices (probably 50%) and actaully I have software that really does work with rendering that is probably best in class just about.

tide

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Re: [rant] Seriously? Software pricing is officially nuts
« Reply #18 on: November 19, 2009, 12:12:17 AM »
There's another part to the lifetime license equation. Many of the people who buy lifetime licenses do not use them forever. Their needs change or they find something better and therefore don't require lifetime support.

It's a little like those mail in rebates. People base their purchasing decision on the lure of those rebates but something like only 25% of them ever actually end up mailing in the rebate request. Mail in rebates become a profit center for a business.

iphigenie

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Re: [rant] Seriously? Software pricing is officially nuts
« Reply #19 on: November 19, 2009, 10:53:04 AM »
Although the official price of ACDSee pro 3 is US$169.99 and that is not much more than the official price of ACDSee Pro 2 was ($10 more?) - i think the upgrade price is aroun 80. Not cheap, but not in the league of other similar pro products.

Still, I am hesitating too  :-[

mwb1100

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Re: [rant] Seriously? Software pricing is officially nuts
« Reply #20 on: November 19, 2009, 12:44:16 PM »
one has to look at whether or not they NEED a lifetime license or if paying for an upgrade WHEN IT IS NEEDED is justifiable.

Here's a rant that I was about to post on UltraEdit's forum about pricing for UEx (UltraEdit for Linux).  I didn't post it there because:

1) I don't really have any interest in UEx at the moment, so it would be me ranting about something that doesn't really apply to me
2) it's a rant, and the IDM support formum isn't really the place for a rant

But since this thread is a rant thread (hey, it's in the title), and I think some people might find it interesting, here goes:

Quote
I'm licensed for unlimited upgrades on the Windows version of UE Studio, so I looked at what UEx offers might apply to my situation.

I don't really need to pay extra for a 'multi-platform' license (I'm already licensed for life on Windows), I guess the way to go is to just buy UEx at the intro price - $40.  That seems reasonable and fair.  However, it looks like if I want to get a lifetime license on that, the price jumps to $180.  Wow!  Add 350% onto the 1 year price.  That seems pretty steep.

Let's look at what happens if I decide not to go with today's lifetime license deal, and decide to go with paying for 2 year licenses over time.

I'll assume that I get 2 years today at $60 (that seems to be today's current intro price for a 2 year license).  Future purchases will use the current announced regular retail price of $70, with a 50% renewal discount and %80 of that added back on for the 2nd year (which I think is the current policy IDM has):

  Years 1 & 2 - $60
  Years 3 & 4 - $63 (assuming 50% discount off non-intro price of $70 and 80% second year fee)
  Years 5 & 6 - $63 (same as above)
       
       total - $186
 
I won't start seeing 'payback' on a lifetime license investment until 7 years from now.

Of course, this does all assume that UEx prices and the percentages that are involved in upgrade discounts and 2nd year bumps don't change. But it also doesn't factor in the time value of the money I wouldn't spend today on the lifetime license,  the small risk that UEx will be dropped or wither into virtual nothingness (so the lifetime license would have little or no value), the fact that I might choose to not upgrade at a particular interval if I don’t need whatever new features are available at that point in time (increasing the time value of the money I’d spend today on a lifetime license), or the risk that I simply won’t need or want to use UEx at some point in the future (so won’t need to pay for upgrades at all).

There’s a lot of complexity here, but it seems to me that a lifetime license should be priced at point where the value of it is *clearly* more than buying 2 year licenses over time. I’d think that it should be priced where this stuff wouldn’t even cross my mind.  But maybe it means that lifetime licenses just don’t make sense from a customer and/or business point of view.  I hope that’s not true, because in general, I like them.


zridling

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Re: [rant] Seriously? Software pricing is officially nuts
« Reply #21 on: November 19, 2009, 04:49:51 PM »
Wow, thanks for the quote, and the math, mwb. I've used the calculator to make a lot of sound decisions in my life:

-- Is it cheaper to buy new, or fix and maintain the old?
-- Is that certification going to earn me a raise, or will it be resume fodder, and in two years mean spit?
-- Should I spend my last five dollars on a gallon of chocolate milk now, or five "Piss-It-Aways" lotto tickets?

Stoic Joker

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Re: [rant] Seriously? Software pricing is officially nuts
« Reply #22 on: November 19, 2009, 04:59:24 PM »
I remember back in the Win98/2000 days I thought ACDSee was one of the coolest image programs out there. However after XP and the built in (and lightning fast) image viewer I no longer had a use for it.

$280?!? ROFL ...I've actually passed up several opportunities to get (quality) pirated copies of the program because it wasn't worth the space to store on the drive.

OldElmerFudd

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Re: [rant] Seriously? Software pricing is officially nuts
« Reply #23 on: December 09, 2009, 09:25:01 PM »
ACDSee Pro was a good software for the Photo Enthusiast and/or Advanced Amateur market. I can't speak to its' recent versions, but it sounds like the developers fell prey to loading the code with multiple features. Lifetime licenses for high-end software is an extravagance, imo, as my needs change over time. Among other things, I'm a semi-retired pro photographer, using Phase One, Lightroom 2, and Photoshop CS2. Don't feel the need for any upgrades.
 ;)
Always code as if the guy who ends up maintaining your code is a violent psychopath and knows where you live.

Jimdoria

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Re: [rant] Seriously? Software pricing is officially nuts
« Reply #24 on: December 10, 2009, 07:32:07 AM »
If you really want the low-down on the fun and whacky world of software pricing, this article by Joel Spolsky is the best treatment I've seen, and fun to read too! (At least as fun to read as any blog post containing charts and spreadsheets can be.)

http://www.joelonsof...ndRubberDuckies.html

The gist of the article in a nutshell is that software companies are trying to price their products to capture consumer surplus, which is...

Quote
...the extra value that rich consumers get from their purchase that they would have been perfectly happy to do without.

It's sort of like if you were all set to buy that new merino wool sweater, and you thought it was going to cost $70, which is well worth it, and when you got to Banana Republic it was on sale for only $50! Now you have an extra $20 in found money that you would have been perfectly happy to give to the Banana Republicans!

Yipes!

That bothers good capitalists. Gosh darn it, if you're willing to do without it, well, give it to me! I can put it to good use, buying a SUV or condo or Mooney or yacht one of those other things capitalists buy!

In economist jargon, capitalists want to capture the consumer surplus.

Let's do this. Instead of charging $220, let's ask each of our customers if they are rich or if they are poor. If they say they're rich, we'll charge them $349. If they say they're poor, we'll charge them $220.

Turns out pricing's not nuts - it's just very, very crafty.
- Jimdoria ~@>@

There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who divide everybody into two kinds of people, and those who don't.