Working out the correct pricing strategy for a product is extremely complex with many factors involved. My example above was just to illustrate that, at this stage in Sagelight development, the optimal strategy will be the one which maximises the sales and reputation. Being seen as cheap does not work because people will just think the product has little value; a higher price means that some people may evaluate and choose it. One off sales may or may not work, depending (for your long-term purpose) on whether those sales are to your target demographic.
Yes, I agree. Pricing has been very difficult, and the real issue is that -- at least for my quest to get some of the higher-end functions recognized -- the price has been too low. I mentioned in the last note that I showed it to some people in the industry. These were people in the right area of the business with a good knowledge of the market, and I heard the same thing from them: the price is too low.
Well, I think that's shame, but I have spent the last year deciding what to do about it. I think you hit it on the head when you mentioned splitting it into two versions.
My perception of your real target demographic (from Sagelight's features, the forum and most of the blog) is that it is to technically competent people with a real interest in photography and who spend a reasonable amount of time and money on it (there aren't too many other people that interested in RAW yet)
It turns out that Sagelight appeals to two specific groups, which is really what I wanted to do. I just didn't realize I was putting two editors into one product which would cause conflict issues. Sagelight appeals to beginners, but also to hobbyists. I have found out over the last year or so (since Sagelight has been a real bonafide venture; when it was Lightbox, that was just the initial entry) that I've been straddling a fence. Anytime I'd do something to make it easier, it wouldn't necessarily be appreciated by a hobbyists, and vice-versa. It's kind of weird. If I look at it, I can see that I've been writing the software trying to keep more beginners in mind, but all of the blogs have been about using it from a technological perspective. For example, masking typically doesn't interest a beginner, but I use it all the time in my examples.
I see a lot more people interested in RAW. I think it's growing. Though, the differences between the images with my little canon powershot with CHDK vs. the JPEG were so clear, I thought I'd get more of a response from the article I wrote about using CHDK. Oh, well!
This group is quite demanding and will tend to ignore products that seem too cheap or too simplistic
Yes, exactly. And I think I've been writing Sagelight around that group. I mean, I've been putting the power into it, for sure, but I think I've been making it less elegant for non-beginners in the process. I've been taking care of that, and version 4.0 is definitely geared for hobbyist-level functionality.
my suggestion would be to plan 2 versions - one for DSLR & the other for P&
Yes, I'm very glad you mentioned that. That is the current plan. The current plan is to have a simpler version that stays in the same range (perhaps a little less), and this new version that has a lot of high-end functionality. I've not really been able to push on the options as much as I want because of the issues discussed above, and this version allows me to just go for it in terms of offering and enabling some more advanced things, like various Color Space modes, etc.
I assume many fewer features than PS (currently there's very little of the creative/drawing/compositional features: SE is very much a photographers' tool) - which reduces price - but is a very specialist tool - which conversely increases price (basically because the potential number of sales will be much smaller).
That's been an issue in terms of how to price it, for sure. At first, with Lightbox (and perhaps the very first initial version of Sagelight), I felt that there were some elements missing that I needed to fix. But, Sagelight is getting more mature. Since it's just programmed by one guy at the moment, of course there are going to be things that aren't in there that would be nice. For example, had I had the time, I'd have an Exif editor in there, which I currently don't, as it's lower priority than, say, the High Pass functionality I just put in -- though, as I mentioned, once 4.0 is released, those smaller items will be the priority.
There are definitely many things Sagelight doesn't that a product like Lightbox has... But, on the other hand, Sagelight has some quantitatively and qualitiatively higher functionality than Photoshop and Lightroom, too. Though I don't have the Lasso Tool (on purpose), for the purposes of enhancing pictures, the masking is far more extensive. The autobalancing, as far as my results show, is much more accurate overall. And then there is just the general congolomerate.
This new version will feature not only the advanced on the vibrance technology, but also a much more aggressive and extensive layer-based system with the same basic controls as Lightroom (i.e. Local Contrast (i.e. clarity), Vibrance, Blacks, Saturation (which is also an advanced on the technology), High Pass filter, as well as a host of other functional modes. But, instead of one slider to control it, you can see and control the shape of the mask for each element, as well as be very specific with how the algorithm is doing it's job. For example, with the Local Contrast feature (aka clarity) you'll be able to control how Sagelight is determining the edges, as well as control the radius and steepeness of the local contrast curve.
I was going for $79.95 because I thought Lightroom was $100+. But someone recently corrected me and told me it retails for $299. I would like to keep it low, but I just honestly don't know when those anti-competetive issues we've discussed take over! (I'm not considerig anything close to $299, though.. ha.)
Given that you want to drive numbers, I would suggest that SE's price spends much (not necessarily most) of the time at the low end of that range
That's true. I've done that on purpose, and so far I think it works against itself. I mean, I'm happy to do it, but when it turns into a bad sales decision.....
quite a few ways of doing this that don't look like sales such as offering signed-up beta testers a very substantial discount
I'm glad you said that. I am thinking about that with the initial release of version 4.0. It will need to be beta-tested, and it might be a good way to get a feel for what the price should be as I get feedback?
The absolute target for now should be increasing reputation and sales to people who will contribute to the buzz around the product rather than the short-term absolute amount of $
I think that's why I'm late on version 4.0 (other issues that happened aside), because I have develop a lot of new technology, and I want to make sure it gets in there in the best way possible. For example, I really wasn't planning to put in the idea of doing user/mouse-drawn curves (since I have the sliders and they can be much more accurate), but this has now become such a tool for controlling the results of many elements (for example, edge masking, etc.), that it is now an integral part of the software that I can just call up as an object to control whatever can be controlled. But, the other side is doing in a way where it's available, useful, but not so obtrusive that it just makes things look very complicated from the start.
One of the main things I've learned over the last few months is about compartmentalization -- the idea of making things as easy as possible with just one slider and a bunch of defaults, but then making a way to change and control those parameters: if you want to.
Unfortunately, that will require an active forum & blog & relevant contributions on photog sites (at least until there are enough users doing that).
I'm glad you mentioned that, too. I will be writing a ton of articles once I release 4.0. But, I will also be back heavily on Sagelight's discussion board (I will turn it on a day or so) and the blog. I wanted to wait until I have 4.0 released, but I think it's better to do it now. Otherwise, I'd be too overwhelmed once I did release it. ha.
Thanks again for all of the thoughts and advice. I am getting more confident about what's working and what isn't working.