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Author Topic: On software pricing  (Read 1407 times)

ital2

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On software pricing
« on: May 06, 2017, 04:36 PM »
(EDIT May 8, 2017: Repair of the mix-up: Put #1 in frame 1 and #2 in frame 2, which should also change the title of this thread.)

Starting point of this thread has been timns'

Personally I have no problem paying a reasonable chunk of change for something that I am going to get a lot of use out of. The example of DOpus is a really good one. God knows how much I have used that software, and how many hours it has saved me both at work and at home. So is 80+ bucks a lot for that?

I think: no. I wouldn't blink at paying that for a decent pair of boots, say. Or a warm jacket. Or even a decent bottle of plonk. Hell, how about filling the car with petrol?

So I still struggle to understand why there's a very strange attitude to paying for software compared to just about anything else.


and several answers over there (all page 1 there): superboyac's software pricing table, nudone's answer and wraith888's own pricing table underneath it: http://www.donationc...ex.php?topic=25742.0 (all on first page there). So:


It is certainly correct that any price has to be viewed with respect to usefulness of the software, which can be divided into several aspects: frequency of use (quite cheap but not free tool used daily: no brainer), intensity of use (quite expensive file manager but which you use almost constantly*), returns of the use (either in terms of direct money* or in terms of productivity, in comparison with similar tools*), likeability (you just like the looks of some software while similar software may be cheaper... but the more expensive one may either even produces better results, since you really like working in it and thus you work better it, or just you have more fun with it which is also kind of a return even if it's not a financial one)...

*: Directory Opus has been mentioned in this respect and stands for other, business software in the following respects:

Perhaps it's quite time-consuming to set it all up in order to really take advantage of its special features, and if people don't have/take that time, the price extend may not be worthwile; this can of course be worsened by regular update prices, or update price extents (compared with similar software) when the user does not take/find the time/quietness to dig into these optimization matters. The above discussion on DO shows this: Perhaps there are possibilities, but they are not made evident or readily available, and so for those users in question, they are NOT available for the time being, even if they are there. From the developer's point of view, it's obvious that they should try to clearly communicate whatever is possible, and how that is possible, and it also should be made possible in easy, clearly defined steps. The DO help file is not bad at all, but they don't integrate realizations for special wishes into it, so that the user has to browse the forum, and more so, has to put together the necessary steps in order to get to it, which many users will not have the time to do, and ironically the users for which the price is no consideration at all. Simply put: If you just use it as the Windows file explorer but with two panes, a lifetime license of a competitor, at a price less than the initial price of the alleged superior contender, will do, and will do indeed for most people.

As implied in the paragraph before, an important factor is the existence or non-existence of competition in the field, and here again - but this does not apply to DO and its competition - the readiness-of-availability of extra features in that competition. I say this does not apply to file managers since the much cheaper file managers do not make readily available their extras either, so the problem of using them just as an explorer replacement with 2 panes is present there, too, and so it often comes to some sort of a feature list race, most of these features never being used. It's ironic and very understandable that those who dig deeper then quickly form sort of a select community for and in which the price is perfectly justified, and tout it, to people who don't have the leisure to get into it and for which the price, in view of the cheaper competition, is not justified. Here again, it's about the making readily available the extras, with and without the help, I mean by the help file and ideally even without needing it.

For direct monetary extent returns of some software over its competition, file managers may not be a really good example, but I'm sure many business software can trigger such direct surplus return over its competition, and then it's up to the developers or resellers to prove this / make this understable and plausible upfront in order to justify the price extent. End of *.

In general and except for software which immediately helps with producing monetary returns, public appreciation of software prices has very changed over the years, by the fact that by Microsoft products available to mass markets at incredibly low prices, the public does not see the individual programming effort, but the price in relation to the package, and this has never been as evident as nowadays since Microsoft Office 2016 is available UNDER 10$/euro (incl. even VAT) everywhere, including some totally incredible package for the price, which by that not only affects competing products (text, spreadsheet, mail and so on) but also software in other fields which often appear "poor", too basic in comparison, and spending some 100$ plus 25$ VAT for some simple software becomes indecent (EDIT: becomes "indecent": I wanted to express that in direct comparison, many users will have the feeling that it's "indecent"; the mention of clothes above is of interest here since at similar prices, you get similar quality, most of the time, while this rule, in software, by Microsoft, has been broken indeed; not by Adobe, though, since they charge indecent prices month after month for quality which is not superior in every aspect...) , running on a pc on which a complete Office 2016 runs for almost nothing. (On the Apple side (Mac, but not AppStore), this has been a little bit different, so developers like to program for Mac, and that often shows by better quality of the software.)

I'd like to give a recent example of a price roller coaster. IdeaRover is some academic text program possibly including citation management, but I don't know to what degree (maintenance, formatting...). It does not seem to be an "outliner" integrating resources and texts-to-write-from-those but manages with two different lists for the former and for the latter. (I had wanted to try it but it doesn't work on XP anymore.)

That program was 89$. Then it was 249$, but not for long. Now it's 99$. Which reminds me of an additional criterion which is the presence not only of cheaper competitors, but of free ones, most universities having one such academic writing software as a campus license.

Which reminds me of file managers where I use FreeCommander almost exclusively, holding some paid licenses for competitors, too, but those tools are totally dormant on my pc, so imagine they changed their price policy to a subscription model, ha!

ANOTHER EDIT: Sometimes, the value of the higher priced software is invalidated by missing or very poorly executed basic functionality. For example, xplorer2 may be superior to FreeCommander, but has not got any "favorites" management worth mentioning; even the Windows Explorer has got some much better one. The one in FreeCommander is not ideal either, but it's functional, as are for example the file rename possibilities, regular and RegEx, too, very intuitive and of big everyday use. So if I had properly appreciated/known these differences, I would never even have bought xplorer2. This is not to criticise xplorer2 which must have many qualities I don't even know, but it's another example of where when buying software at a certain price, you (sometimes wrongly) expect all the basics being there, and well implemented, when in fact it's perfectly possible they are (almost) missing, and then in your daily use, you replace paid software with freeware. Such experiences then also have the effect that when in doubt, you don't buy (but after an extensive trial perhaps, but which may never take place then, so the purchase will not take place either: in this respect, DO's trial of 60 days instead of the usual 30 is a smart move, since it gives you time to discover qualities you may have overlooked by a trial in a hurry), when before, you bought and weren't even in doubt about possible missing qualities.
« Last Edit: May 08, 2017, 12:17 PM by ital2 »

ital2

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On software pricing (2)
« Reply #1 on: May 07, 2017, 12:13 PM »
Talking of roller coasters: Bitcoin as a perfect example. In fact, nobody knows what the real value of Bitcoin is, except probably its creators. And I don't have any idea, but would be thankful for suggestions, why some software developers tout Bitcoin, by lowering their price for Bitcoin payment. Or do they, the touting I mean?

Could be that they muse that Bitcoin users are juvenile types (no pun intended) who otherwise would not buy at all? Or even another, quite exotic effect: They know that sympathy sells, too. So they think that 99 p.c. (be it 95, whatever) of possible buyers will NOT have access to Bitcoin (it doesn't make sense to go into it for a payment of some dollars where you'll spare some dime) BUT will say to themselves, Oh, that's a fine fellow, he even gives out discounts, so IF I had Bitcoin, I could spare a dime. That's really friendly, so I'll buy from him anyway, all the more so since what I lose by not getting the discount isn't that much!

We're speaking of a buyer here who without the discount (which (s)he doesn't even get) would not even have considered buying.

I call this the virtual-discount-purchase-trigger. (Which can of course come along in other forms, too, but that's another problem: Student discounts ain't that attractive to non-students for example...) - Remember, you just have to give it out to perhaps 3 p.c. of people who would have bought anyway, but it'll bring you possibly 10, 20 or 30 p.c. more customers, all paying full price, and which would have not bought without it being virtually there.

But even that can be wrongly applied. When DVD Anywhere passed hands, I decided I wanted to buy, at last, but only ways of payment were Visa or Bitcoin. I just have some MasterCards, no Visa, no Bitcoin, so I never bought since digging into Bitcoin (or applying for an additional credit card) wasn't worth it for me, and since, renting films has become free in the public library, so DVD Anywhere won't get my money anytime soon even if they accept MasterCard.

In this special case of media piracy tools, Bitcoin acceptance obviously was given out of necessity, not many banks wanting to be involved in such business, and so even them offered a discount for paying with Bitcoins, probably in order to induce to get non-Visa-card-holders into the Bitcoin system. (EDIT: In order to not lose the sale I mean.)

But, frankly, for all that fuss the discount wasn't sharp enough, so I happily do without DVD Anywhere (or was it AnyDVD rather? Anyway, the Elby successors.).


AND OF COURSE, in http://www.donationc...ex.php?topic=43777.0 (my second post there) I had described another price problem, which is more a problem for would-have-been-buyers than for the seller except when it gets too generally known: Price explosion, but in another variant: Not to an unjustified price, but starting from an exceptionally low price level, or simply from zero, longtime freeware getting normally-priced at some point in time: this latter phenomenon certainly is a problem for the developer, the more well-known the freeware was, the less users now will buy.

Let's hope for freeware developers that at some point, the operating systems will make further use of the freeware impossible, AND that they understand that their now paid version must offer BIG advantages over existing functionality. Gratitude ("Now I finally can pay after all!") doesn't work here.

But as said, nothing's worse than missed lifetime updates periods...


I FORGOT:

Some days ago, some mindmap program was offered half-price on bitsdujour, the one that has been endorsed (probably for free, for being the best, or then for something else?) by Tony Buzan, the inventor of the mindmap term.

Mindmaps come off a time where pc's were rather mainframes, so they were drawn by hand, and indeed, the software that Buzan endorses, comes with very hand-crafted-like shapes, which must have pleased him. It's in its version 20 or so now, and comes with lots of graphical bells and whistles, but functionality-wise, it does not seem to be that extraordinary; reviews are so-so. There's a lot of competition in that field in any case.

Bitsdujour customers are called "folks", and those "folks" were warned, even days before the big sale, that only 100 licenses were available - it now occurred to me I should have posted here at that very moment, to share my laugh, and it came as expected by me: After day 1, the "folks" were informed that the big day had been to extended to 48 hours! And of course, after almost 48 hours in full, Buzan's adopted child was always available for purchase.

At a price of some 117.50$ instead of 235 if I remember well, but where was the clutch? Since for 117.50 plus VAT, it would have been something nice-to-have, it's optical bells and whistles screaming "buy us!".

From the reviews it was evident that additional functionality (for example Gantt charts) were in quite early stages of development and needed quite a lot of polishing, and on the other hand, "folks" who tried to "help" with their business, told "folks" that paid updates were very regular, every year, minus 50 p.c. at the time of the update, less so afterwards, and so anyone who would have bought this as a nice-to-have would have faced life with a program of which major parts were not ready for prime time, AND if they wanted rather minor increments (as said, current version was 19 or something around that, so you could have expected it was sheer brilliance now after 18 tries, so if it was obviously not, further development would to be expected at that rather languid path), they would have to pay 117.50 or more every year from now.

That's a big, continuous deception with a big announcement I'd say, and so it was evident that most of nice-to-have-it-users would refrain from such a purchase, while on the other hand, professional users will probably buy something more professional, less cumbersome, less "handcrafted" (see the reviews).

I'm not speeking of "greediness" or something, 117.50 per year and per seat is nothing to whine about for a productive program in a professional environment, but annual updates, even correctly priced, and which after 19 years don't bring perfect results, in graphics and in functionality, yet, in a market of quite performant contenders, that's simply not good enough as I see it.

And the never-ending follow-up of updates of which perhaps some should have been free minor ones, does not produce a "worthy" product which then, for the casual user, will suffice for some years, it's not "rounded-up" enough but screaming for the next update, and the next, and the next, and they're all paid ones, at the (here) original price:

That offer was psychologically very near a subscription, and for the casual user, subscriptions fall flat. (And not even the scarcity incentive here could overcome that.)
« Last Edit: May 08, 2017, 12:17 PM by ital2 »

tomos

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Yeah, it's tough getting the balance, I mean setting the best price in order to make money, and still sell.

With software I use often, I've started appreciating the little things more. Two examples would be Softmaker Office (it being for commercial use makes it a lot more affordable than MS Office) and DO. While I'm at times unhappy with non-implemented requests and/or what I consider strange UI decisions, there are features there that make the cost very worthwhile, especially considering I use them everyday I'm at the computer. FWIW I wouldn't consider myself a power user of either programme: I think it was Dopus 9 or maybe 10 I had customised to the eyeballs, but at some stage I went for a vanilla install -- there's functionality that I had before that I never recovered -- meaning I never took the time to find again. I never really recovered from that, yet the programme is still well worth it to me.

ital2

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On software pricing (3)
« Reply #3 on: May 07, 2017, 02:24 PM »
timns' mention of clothing price (citation on top of this thread) has been a real eye-opener for me - as said above, similar clothing of similar quality: similar prices: you get what you pay for, more or less; there is a common perception of how much a certain clothing in a certain quality will/should cost -, and thinking about it:

In software, too, there is such a price expectation, too, but it's entirely dependent on other software prices, even on prices of software which is in a complete nother range: It's almost as if clothing prices were heavily influenced by car prices or vice versa.

This phenomenon has quite broad consequences: The availability of some "super software" for almost nothing devaluates other software, even other software kinds, and invalidates their price demands, except for cases in which some software is needed to earn money AND where all the softwares in/for that/those special business (needs) are priced more or less evenly.

From a productivity-worth point of view, prices would have been very different. In the beginnings, for example for a translator, there were typewriters / electric typewriters (several hundred $$), then electronic typewriters (over 1,000 to several thousand $$) - no real gain in productivity so far -, then electronic typewriters with disk storage (and some sort of text display, sometimes just several 80 character lines): These were up to 10,000 $$, and more if they were a little bit sophisticated (for example Wang).

They came with big gains in productivity for translators (or for office personnel having to type very long and quite plastic documents, but also, another way, for short business letter writing, thanks to "phrases", standard bits of text ready for multi-usage). For translators, though, the gains in productivity were much less than the additional costs (about 8,000 $$ more than their ancient equipment which by the move of buying modern hardware was rendered worthless), BUT they tried to buy it anyway since their files on disk were much more worth for their customers than were the hundreds of printed-out pages of their competitors.

And speaking of printed-out pages, printing them out correctly was very expensive since you had to use highly-expensive, 1-use-only carbon tapes in order to make them readable for the (15,000 $$ and more) reading machines in the publishing houses and other corporate customers. (Those reading machines, even if they were already present there, did not read printed-out texts without inserting new, additional typos, which made files-on-disk even more valuable.)

In other words, there was a time where the cost of equipment was either directly related to the productivity gains coming from it, or where for most would-be buyers of such equipment, the costs even surpassed possible gains. (For most translators of the time, it should have been less expensive to read the new print-outs from the files produced by the reading machines having read their print-outs, for free, than to buy a Wang - which were new enough for not being available used for lesser cost.)

The the introduction of the pc, and shortly afterwards or at the same time, of the earliest Apple machine, and it was the first time that hardware and software fell apart; the second time, many years later, this occurred with smartphones which today do all sorts of things for which some time ago you would have needed dedicated devices, one by one.

The same phenomenon I describe here for text, occurred for crunching numbers, and even, with some time delay, for vector and other graphics; the latter made that Apple had its chance beside the pc; graphics on pc's came much, much later only. Databases ditto: Rolodex and other cards were the norm for anybody who could not afford sort of mainframes.

In these early years, standard software (text, spreadsheet, database, graphics) was about 1,000 $ each, and it was evident that for anybody making even a little bit of money with any of these software kinds, the price of software, even though it was 1,000 apiece, was extremely acceptable, and affordable, considering their gains, once you had bought the necessary pc or Mac, and, since hardware development was incredibly fast, you were able to buy pc's or Macs used, for much less, very soon, so the necessary upfront cost for then having access to a Wang-in-pc and other production machines (spreadsheets and so on) was not necessarily 5,000 $ or more but just the half of that.

You could call this the democratization of productivity.

(Of course Wang went bust.)

From then on already, software prices went down, too, by means of individual developers also doing some development, and also from the availability of "used" software (when people switched from Word to WordPerfect or the other way round, for example) and from software "sales" coming from software producers which went to the wall or software products which were not longer developed but which were sold a prices making them of interest for people not wanting (and not needing) to pay 1,000 $ for each software; it's of interest in this respect that Microsoft (but not WordPerfect) succeeded in establishing their text format as a standard, so that anybody who had to sell their texts had no other choice than to buy Word, in the worst of cases even had to switch to Word, from WordPerfect (total investment just for text files 2,000 $ instead of just the 1,000 they had thought it was sufficient). Of interest here: The inability of WordStar to establish their format as the standard, even though they were first, and much cheaper even. Perhaps it's because they hadn't formatting but years later, when both Word and WordPerfect had it introduced in awhile.

Whatever, Word and WordPerfect both succeeded in upholding their very comparable prices for some years (in the beginnings, Word's victory was not yet foreseen, so most text buyers had both programs available, leaving the choice of format to their text suppliers, but WordStar, even though cheap in comparison, was never a contender), while, as said, those prices were incredibly cheap, compared with Wang and similar systems just some years ago.

And now you get almost the whole bunch from Microsoft for almost free, and almost the whole market is deeply affected by this, except for very special software where (or more precisley: as far as: see Excel) Microsoft software cannot help you: business software (besides text/mail/Excel), scientific software (beyond and besides Excel number crunching), special software for special professions (the translator example since now that they know it's possible, they (and their paying customers) have discovered urgent needs far beyond text processing), and so on.

It's fascinating that Adobe makes the exception: They, and they only, have succeeded in preserving a quite "general-public" market with high prices for them, and they are even much higher than in the past. This is due to 2 factors: For one, graphics software obviously ask for extreme coding (most graphics software from other publishers is not as sophisticated, obviously because they don't have the necessary development money), and for two, they did it all right, not having an operating system to rely too heavily on and to blur their minds, like Microsoft did; both tried to extinguish the competition, both succeeded in that. It has to be said that Microsoft's user and usage scopes were much larger (text, even spreadsheets) so that to deliver to the general public, they had to deliver products which also were then available, at general-public prices*, to corporate customers, while for many years, Adobe (and their competitors) provided software which wasn't yet asked for by large elements of the general public, too.

*: It's ironic that MS in all those years and even now made and makes available their software to corporations at much LESSER prices than to the general public, it's just that now those corporate licenses, too, by jurisdiction, have become to the general public, too. But the rule of price is, most of Microsoft's corporate software is also very useful for the layman, or more precisely, it's the other round: Most of layman's software would totally suffice for corporate needs, or in just other wording yet: Most of Microsoft's software is just not sophisticated enough in order to be sold at much higher prices yet since then cheap competing software would take over their markets insofar.

This is different for Microsoft Server, Exchange Server, SharePoint: have a look at their prices over there... So the problem obviously is: Whenever there is software which, for the general public and corporate needs, is almost identical, prices cannot be upheld, even while Adobe succeeds in it, partially - it's evident they will have lost lots of their former non-corporate customers by their price strategy, and it will be of the utmost interest to have a look when Microsoft buys some Adobe competitors, then injects the necessary money into them. (Ok, for vector graphics, no serious contender is left, but for the rest of Adobe's choice of products, that would work quite brilliantly.)

Now compare the whole Microsoft package for less than 10$ with a Wang machine for 10- or 20,000 $ (since their "cheap" machines didn't dig that deep into text processing), dollars of then!

And then try to sell some quite simple piece of software for 100 bucks. Even when we all convene that you get some 20,000 $ of development costs for your purchase price of 100$, and some 20,000$ of 1981's worth: If you don't need it desperately, and if it doesn't provide fun* for its money, you compare with the 10$ MS Office on your machine, and we know the result.

*: That's why the Chinese do so much media software, and why the most brilliant developers today often code games instead.

If it doesn't produce direct money, and if it doesn't give pleasure, and isn't even outrageously cheap, shelve it; freeware and almost-freeware from Microsoft provides for all they will need: 20,000 or 200,000 $ of development costs it isn't worth because you don't need it and think you know what nice-to-haves should cost. You think otherwise on the subject of "a decent pair of boots, say. Or a warm jacket.": Even if you don't need them since you've got more than you can wear out between now and the time of your death, they have agreed-upon standard prizes (as had software in 1985), and you either need them indeed, or they are attractive before your eyes, you WANT them, for color, fabric, for feeling good.

While most software nowadays, let alone for the Windows operating system, isn't attractive at all.

You thought TheBrain was functional? Come on! They sell on looks-n-fun. (But since it's not so functional in the end, they don't sell that much of it after all.)

Some days ago, I've been to some store where they also sell Apple. Impossible to have another look (yes, another look, so it wasn't important: Yes, that stuff IS sexy, so I stroll along whenever I'm there for other reasons) onto the iPads - iPads, I say, not IPhones: 4 girls between 11 and 13, and some around-12-year-old boy had the fun of their life (or day), bent over the pads: From just looking and touching, they were in heaven, so I didn't want to disturb them, and probably about 80 p.c. or more of the smartphone and related businesses are driven by that fun factor, not by business needs, and that's not even counting the non-availability of batteries after some years.

It's by need (and that's function of the competition, too!), or by real, sheer fun (include dreams, prestige and so on here) that you sell; anything else is always "too expensive" - that's why people complain about prices which, from a matter-of-fact point of view, may even be a steal.

If you want to get an idea of how to inject fun even into software-you-need, re-read my thread "Navicat Warning", more thoroughly this time; also some Mac software is fun to work with. Even most mindmappers (incl. the Buzan thing) don't understand that either: What fun could be driven from software which is so much less fun, and that more cumbersome, than handicraft?
« Last Edit: May 08, 2017, 11:49 AM by ital2 »

ital2

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tomos,
« Reply #4 on: May 07, 2017, 03:17 PM »
what you say about Softmaker Office reminds me of an aspect I missed, Underdog Assistance. I've written for hours and I'm tired, but this would be worth to be developed, it's not about being cheaper, being simpler or other "justifications", it's about identification with other people who are NOT in power while the like of Microsoft and Adobe clearly are. And it's fascinating because individual developers can try to trigger that Assistance from many a potential buyer, but most of the time commit mistakes which will break the spell.

It would be interesting to hear your "reasons" of the time which made you chose Softmaker Office over MS: Was it early enough for cheap MS Office licenses not being available yet? Since even at similar prices - around 100$ vs around 100$ for a MS "Home & Student" license it's evident for many people that their money go to the Underdog, not to the richest man in the world, even when they get much less functionality for the price - "I don't need the overkill", they silence their doubts in those cases: in fact, for political reasons, they then go against their own best interests (old laptops excluded here). No pun intended, it's just human and rather "friendly buying", you you tell us, your loyalty was unidirectional: They don't return the attachment of their customers, but just take advantage of it. (This aspect is one of the points I referred to by saying they break the spell by making mistakes, just having found your niche isn't enough, for a developer, they need to secure it, too.)

And what you have experienced with DO (which stands in for other programs here of course) is another aspect of what I said about not having the time/leisure to dig deep enough (again, in your case); when I had had that other, Win10 pc, for some days, every usage of (my) standard software was horrible, having made the installation, but not having all the thousands (!) of little tweaks - before, I had even taken note of many of them, in order to replicate them, but it just wasn't the real thing, and would have taken months, and hundreds of hours, to get even near there.

(Besides, I probably over-simplified my description in the other thread; some months ago, I had unsuccessfully tried to buy a new HP workstation with Win10 and a good XEON processor in the range of the i7, but they were already sold out at the very good price (1100€ but without graphics card yet), so now I had bought a used HP workstation, with a processor which is said to be similar to an i5 (and with that 4 GB graphics card, 400€, also with 16 GB server RAM), and that really was a big disappointment, independently of its instability / alleged motherboard fault.)

So going back to my old XP pc has been literally a relief for me, and I would pay a good price for a really good tool which was able to transfer my programs, with settings, to a modern pc, but from what I read about such programs, even from 7 to 7, 7 to 8, or 10 to 10, they are not strong, so taking it all from XP to 10 and hoping to get much help from such a program, would be delusional.

But what you report, discloses another very important factor in selling, and in pricing, too: It's quite easy for a developer to guarantee the transfer of all (!) the settings from one pc to another, but almost none even ever touches the subject, and it's with software that can be deeply personalized, and which will gain almost all its power from such extensive personalization that such transfer help is of paramount importance, and from one software version to the next, this should not even be a subject of worth mentioning. But you updated to 11, then, in spite of those goodies not available to you anymore? That's what I'd call an very loyal customer!

But then, if you really did, I admit that filing with DO's more fun than with, say, xplorer2, that's for sure, graphically and functionally, but then, the latter's developer is not that open to his customers' suggestions, either, he's a very (brilliant) technical guy (see his new search tool, specialized in meta data: wow!)


But now I finally must check the French election results now, I don't have the slightest idea yet (about the percentages, that is, I'd guess around 63:37 or even more apart (advantage: High Finance), so I'm not intrigued by the possible outcome, would have checked if I had had any doubt); software design being just too fascinating a subject for me, you even could speak of addiction.

EDIT:

Ok, ok, it's 65:35, and nobody here will believe me I didn't know 1 minute ago. That's life. ;-)

tomos

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Re: On software pricing
« Reply #5 on: May 08, 2017, 02:55 PM »
Re Softmaker:
I bought it for commercial use (just for me), so a *lot* cheaper, at the time anyways, than MS office.
And I dont like the ribbon, especially on laptop screens where vertical space is so valuable.

Re Dopus:
as I said, in spite of no longer having/using a lot of the capability, there was still enough there to justify the upgrades, especially considering I use it every day.
I cant remember my upgrade sequence (whether I skipped one) I am at 12 now at any rate. EDIT// I think I skipped one or two versions then got it on special offer. I've got a brain like a sieve when it comes to things like that (and for more important things too :-/ )

ital2

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Oh, it's 12 now?
« Reply #6 on: May 08, 2017, 04:15 PM »
Yes, my theory is that software tend to lose updates when users lose functionality, either by their own "fault" (no pun intended) or by crazy decisions of the developer (I don't know InfoSelect, but read some things about it), but then, I also said that fun, user experience* is THE sales factor of them all when absolute necessity is not, and that visually, DO is quite pleasant, so I fully understand you! ;-)

*: In fact, I had succeeded in writing so much yet about user experience, without ever mentioning the term, I just missed the core expression of my subject, don't know why, but yesterday after posting, I noted it and promised to myself to finally say it out loud: user experience! user experience! (It's all about that indeed.)


As for the ribbon, just yesterday, when trying to install "FolderViewer" which had been gratis somewhere - didn't work for XP, though, in spite of the freebie site saying it would -, I discovered the culprit for the ribbon, or at least they pretend to be, eternal shame on them!

MatirSoft.com (homepage):

Do not feel overwhelmed by the amount of features. MatirSoft is the inventor of the Ribbon, first released in our program Winuscon® (©2001). FolderViewer is neatly organized using the familiar Tabs.

Btw, do you experience the roller coaster effect? In a line and a half they've built up a roller coaster all by itself - say it aloud, this bunch of 3 short sentences is pure cabaret, even by just reading them I cannot stop laughing.

Ribbon Robbers, them!

(Space, time, mobility of your right arm in the long run, if they weren't robbers, I wouldn't say so, but then, had they known it'd spread and literally take over in such a way, they'd have patented their invention, so they are perpetrators, and victims, too.)

Oh, and for convenience reasons, I'd like to add the "Navicat Warning" link, and I rename it to "Navicat Review" (click bait! Also, it hadn't been a real "warning", but I was upset by them automatically refusing my suggestions): http://www.donationc....msg408488#msg408488
« Last Edit: May 08, 2017, 04:35 PM by ital2 »

wraith808

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Re: On software pricing
« Reply #7 on: May 08, 2017, 04:55 PM »
A small suggestion; don't use the subject as part of your post.  Leave it as it is, unless you're truly changing the subject.  Makes for an easier to understand read.

tomos

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Re: On software pricing
« Reply #8 on: May 09, 2017, 03:59 AM »
Oh, and for convenience reasons, I'd like to add the "Navicat Warning" link, and I rename it to "Navicat Review" (click bait! Also, it hadn't been a real "warning", but I was upset by them automatically refusing my suggestions): http://www.donationc....msg408488#msg408488

dont take offence but I'm not going to read that because SQL & databases is too in depth for me (I really a fairly basic user).
I do use a programme (InfoQube) that uses database files, but it's more of an IM -- with the ability to filter using SQL, which I dont do: I use it in a fairly basic manner.
I do like the idea of a 'view' or 'grid' being basically a display of filtered items, but dont really take advantage of the more advanced capabilities that allows.


It can challenging when good suggestions / requests get turned down or ignored.
My experience with software I mentioned:

  • Softmaker - reasonable chance of suggestions being implemented
  • DO - great bugfixes, their focus is different than mine: I work a lot with images (not photos). I gave up making requests that direction a while back, but they did majorly improve the viewer in the last upgrade. They the best file manager around with image 'support' that I've found. (So it's not really about it 'looking good' for me.)
  • InfoQube: I like/enjoy very much that it's in development/beta: one can have a real influence on the programme, it's interface, etc.


PS yes, enjoyed the ribbon rollercoaster :-)

ital2

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On software pricing
« Reply #9 on: May 10, 2017, 01:09 PM »
tomos, interesting info! In fact, XY... isn't that bad for pic viewing lately (while xplorer2 is bad for that): It has the usual quick file view, but then also, since some versions, the "Floating Preview" (best on big screens of 2-screen setup, similar to FastStone ImageViewer); this being said, I'm not entirely sure I would need any file manager for viewing photos, I use this FS ImageViewer for that, but you say it's not pictures in your case, so I cannot say if (and why perhaps) FS ImageViewer was less good at it in your case. Also, I understand that DO is said to be so versatile that very simply the use of additional programs (even free ones like that FS ImageViewer) is not needed. I own XY... (paid, lifetime) AND the FS thing (free), and in spite of knowing how good XY... is with pics, for them I only and always use FS, but cannot say why. I suppose I like to have dedicated programs for distinct uses, but there is no real reason for my choice.

Also, I've said it, I only use FreeCommander as my file manager, in practice, while you use DO all day long; for pics I would need to start XY... then, so I can start FS instead, while your DO is already running. This is to say, it's all about convenience when there is NO quality difference, and I suppose there is no quality difference between pic rendering between FS, XY... and DO, but I could be mistaken about DO's capabilities: It has also been said as to be very good with file preview and pics in particular, I just want to say perhaps XY... is now as good as DO here, but for somebody accustomed to DO, that would of course not be a reason to switch horses.

So indeed, we've got another element of pricing, and there is no pun intended when I say, even with a lesser price (XY... lifetime license vs regular update costs for DO, so the former is cheaper in the long run) at probably more or less identical software quality (which I just suggest as a possibility), inertia will hold against switching, "inertia" being used as a strictly technical term here, without "judging" or something.

Fact is, the more sophisticated software is - and all those file managers, DO, XY..., xplorer2 are -, the lesser the chances for a competing product to replace software a user is quite accustomed to already, for the additional reason of their time / learning / knowledge / know-how investment then being invalidated.

I say "additional reason" because even if technically, the switch was quite easy and would not imply much loss of application-specific know-how, there is always the problem of the financial investment being invalidated by a switch, psychologically at least, but it's a very heavy psychological burden.

Numbers of pure invention: Some file manager A (or DO) for 100$, plus 5 updates at 50$ each over the years, makes a total cost of 250$, which psychologically are "lost" when you switch, instead of buying the 6th update, also at a cost of 50$. Switching would cost 100$ for a lifetime license of file manager B (or XY...), so after the next update, you are technically even, and then afterwards, you are on the plus side, but the 250$ "lost" weigh enormously, so that few people would switch without any good, additional "reason". (Technically, with application A, of the 250$, 200$ are already "lost" in both cases, switch and non-switch: Not-switching brings an immediate "gain" of 50$ since you "just" pay the update (50$), not full price for either A (100$) nor for B (100$).)

This teaches us that for competing software, there are two ways of success: Trigger a switch or trigger an additional buy - the user will hold (and hopefully use) both programs from now on in parallel -, and that in both cases, just being cheaper or even being cheap is NOT a valid argument, but only additional, very important "added value", (for a certain time frame) unrivaled, really useful functionality (and which can be communicated as such or better, as highly desirable) is.

Btw, every day, countless businesses go bust which try to "be cheaper" than the competition, so this is not specific to software, where, as said, the additional problem of application-specific knowledge the user will have built up, comes into way.

But there is the more general concept of convenience which is one of my next subjects.

Regarding Navicat Modeler, I just played around with it a little bit, but that gave me the ideas for something like the software I describe there and which could be applied to other things than databases, it's about a general, pulsing software concept. (Major "Pulse" domains are all taken, of course...)

(XY... and DO just serve as examples here, that's why I abbreviate them; my point is not a comparison of file managers, all the less so since I only know one of the two.)

ital2

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Re: On software pricing
« Reply #10 on: May 10, 2017, 01:11 PM »
(Second of two posts of mine immediately following each other.)

User experience can overcome competition, as can really useful ("really" meaning "really useful for a LOT of people"!) superior functionality; for "user experience", there is a restriction, too: The more complicated the software functionality (example: a fully-featured file manager), the more "user experience" (or the lack of it) comes into play (we've had the (positive) DO example above and which also proves that with some additional "user experience", you can overcome the competition even price-wise, meaning you can even enforce considerably higher prices (if you count the updates they are even multiplied), without even cutting (too much) into the market share you would have had with "competitive" prices perhaps; of course this latter assertion is subject to some doubt since they never tried out if they got 80 p.c. of the paid-file-managers market if they priced DO "competitively"; anyway, the market for file managers is a fragile anyway since any time, MS could incorporate much more file management functionality into their operating system.

"User experience" in very simple tools (in which your working time is very limited and where the notion of "fun" could not really apply) would be more reduced, both in scope and in importance, to something of minimisation of fuss, minimisation of necessary user interaction (steps) in order to get to the result, incl. for example variants management, the tool not asking each time for all the single settings but providing stored and named variants from which to choose and coming with their settings stored by the user beforehand ("once and for all", in fact for as long as the user will not change the variants' details); you could call such variants "presets". (These are general considerations.)


Now to crazy-pricing (and naming becoming inadequate over time). Today, PDF Writer  is 85 p.c. off, on bitsdujour, this means for 9$ instead of 60.

It's a pdf printer-driver, this means you install it as a printer driver, for it to produce a pdf. I didn't try this product, don't need it al all, so this "review" could contain mistakes, my point is pricing here, not a review of this program. bitsdujour says: "PDF Writer lets you create PDF documents from any Windows program that has a print function."

There are some free and paid pfd printer drivers, some well-known free one is said to install malware, so perhaps there is a good reason indeed to install one of those in the 10-12$ range if you really need such a "pdf printer". Many will not need one since they will have installed one of the quite numerous applications which come with such a pdf printer, and which more often than not are then also available as printers from other applications (similar to fonts installed by one application and which are then available to anything in the system). I even remember to have had additional pdf printer drivers installed by some trial software, and the the pdf printer driver was left when behind when I de-installed the trial; currently, I've got several pdf printers installed in my system, without even knowing which one comes from which application.

But the PDF Writer has some goodies, too, bitsdujour: "Please note folks, the application can merge and split PDF files and it can also add text or images as watermarks." So it comes with what you could call a fully-featured GUI while it's very rudimentary for most of such pdf printer drivers. Now I don't know by the heck of me why someone who does NOT have a fully-featured pdf editor (30-40$) would need images as watermarks in their pdf's, but clearly, the merge and split functions are often needed, and dedicated programs for this are, for some, overpriced (40$, full version now "on offer" for 20$ instead; they're obviously checking if that new price more than doubles sales or not) and not needed, since here again, for the same price, you get fully-featured pdf editors which include that functionality, and also, there are free programs for that (Icecream and others=, without limitations, or the free version of one of the paid ones, and which can handly rather big documents for splitting and which works also fine for merging most documents and for all of them with a little fuss (ex Adolix Split & Merge, now 7-PDF Split & Merge from another entity ( http://www.7-pdf.de/.../pdf-split-and-merge ), seems to be the successor of the former which was halted, or then is at least very, very similar to it): It merges up to 5 documents but which can have any number of pages each, and you can use the same tool, if really needed, twice or several times in a row.

If you have 60$ to spend (the regular price of PDF Writer), you'll get quite advanced pdf editors (or two of the more basic ones), and I suppose you'll have all the functionality of PDF Writer included, with much more; again, this is not a review of PDF Writer but a consideration of prices for dedicated tools vs competiting tools and vs more complete applications which include the tools' functionality.

From the above - again, I could be partly mistaken -, it seems evident for me that an adequate price for PDF Writer would be 12, 15 or 20$, with 20$ certainly a "correct" one, but with 15 (14.95: sales doubled?) or especially 12$ PDF Writer certainly becoming a so-called "non-brainer", with sales probably 3 or 4 times the ones at 20$. Also, the naming should be revised, "PDF Writer" not including the, as said, highly-useful Split-and-Merge functionality, something like "PDF Tool" or such being less limitative for the appreciation of potential buyers not knowing the tool yet.

As you can see from my 12$ suggestion, it's not me intention to denigrate this program (it's sold at 9$ at bitsdujour, from which just 4$ go to the developer), but it serves here as an example for pricing which, as far as I see it, totally out of reach considering the competition (from other dedicated tools, from more complete applications, and even from tools which are there "by chance", installed alongside by third-party software), and which, ironically, could probably get a very high share of the special market for such tools if priced smartly (here: pdf printer / merger / splitter). In any case, I firmly believe that this tool, priced at a fifth of its current price, could generate revenue tenfold or more.

Btw, I've seen quite some time that applications or tools in particular came named inadequately, with further development having put their functionality well beyond their original naming, which thus seriously hampered their sales now since most prospects take the name limitation for granted, without looking into possible plus functionality.


Also, there is the notion of convenience: If some dedicated tool (here: pdf split/merge) is "cheap enough" (12$, and with full functionality, not as a "lite" version which forces you to first think, will I be within its limits or not?), it may become of interest even though you have the same functionality available within some bigger "package", for example for very different loading times and/or for the functionality readily and very easily available within the dedicated tool (immediate availability), while in your more complete application, it's more or less "hidden" within menus/ribbons, and/or introduces other complications in there which are not needed in most use cases. Of course, this aspect best works for tools which provide the functionality as quickly and easily as possible, and when it's a functionality which is very often needed outside a more complete functional framework; both pdf merge and pdf split are core examples for such functionality needed without any other arrounding it.

(The more complete Abbyy pdf editor has got a discrete pdf merger tool, so it's distinct from (but bought with) the main program anyway, but for the heck of me I never discovered a pdf split tool which I need even more often though, so I always use the free combined 7-Pdf tool, all the more so since I can never remember from one case of need to the next if the Abbyy tool misses the combining or the splitting). So my point here is, even if a tool is redundant, if it's "available enough", both by price and then later on for / by it (/ by its way of) executing frequent tasks, it's successfully marketable.


Another phenomenon is slicing functionality and/or scope down to an extreme and sell each function/scope in a different tool, in a wish to maximize revenues by inviting the same customer to buy 5 or 10 different tools at the same time; this outrageous behavior can be seen from some tool vendors in the database, Outlook (!) or file format/translation sidecar businesses. I suppose that most of them seriously damage their reputation and their possible revenue by this inappropriate try to squeeze the purse of their possible customers wherever they try this in fields where indeed the same customers would need (or would like to have) several ones of their very similar tools at the same time. It's different of course for tools where the same customer in most cases would only need one of the very specialized tools from that vendor, but that's very rare while the policy of slicing tools up into unnaturally tiny functionality and/or scope fractions is quite frequent.

To stay in my pdf-split-merge example, it would be unsuccessful to try to sell TWO such tools, one for merging (12$) and one for splitting (12$), since while it's true that you rarely use those functions together, you'll need both of them quite often, at least hypothetically, and even at 6$ apiece, prospects would get the impression that the developer is milking them since their functionality, while distinct, is conceptionally tight-knit, so any try to make prospects "choose one or the other or pay double price" (even if those are very low and doubling it remains perfectly acceptable) will end up for most prospects in not buying any.

tomos

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Re: On software pricing
« Reply #11 on: May 10, 2017, 04:34 PM »
tomos, interesting info! In fact, XY... isn't that bad for pic viewing lately (while xplorer2 is bad for that): It has the usual quick file view, but then also, since some versions, the "Floating Preview" (best on big screens of 2-screen setup, similar to FastStone ImageViewer); this being said, I'm not entirely sure I would need any file manager for viewing photos, I use this FS ImageViewer for that, but you say it's not pictures in your case, so I cannot say if (and why perhaps) FS ImageViewer was less good at it in your case. Also, I understand that DO is said to be so versatile that very simply the use of additional programs (even free ones like that FS ImageViewer) is not needed. I own XY... (paid, lifetime) AND the FS thing (free), and in spite of knowing how good XY... is with pics, for them I only and always use FS, but cannot say why. I suppose I like to have dedicated programs for distinct uses, but there is no real reason for my choice.

Also, I've said it, I only use FreeCommander as my file manager, in practice, while you use DO all day long; for pics I would need to start XY... then, so I can start FS instead, while your DO is already running. This is to say, it's all about convenience when there is NO quality difference, and I suppose there is no quality difference between pic rendering between FS, XY... and DO, but I could be mistaken about DO's capabilities: It has also been said as to be very good with file preview and pics in particular, I just want to say perhaps XY... is now as good as DO here, but for somebody accustomed to DO, that would of course not be a reason to switch horses.

So indeed, we've got another element of pricing, and there is no pun intended when I say, even with a lesser price (XY... lifetime license vs regular update costs for DO, so the former is cheaper in the long run) at probably more or less identical software quality (which I just suggest as a possibility), inertia will hold against switching, "inertia" being used as a strictly technical term here, without "judging" or something.
you're tying yourself in knots here :)

if you do want to know why I said what I said (clear preference stated for DO for my work with files, many of which are images), I can tell you. Mind you I would need to look at the competition again to be fair to them. And it would be veering off-topic here I guess.

And yeah, inertia is often a factor once one is using and used to a programme -- for me as for others -- it just felt odd you suggesting it in my case when I had said I had reasons for favouring a particular one.

ital2

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Re: On software pricing
« Reply #12 on: May 12, 2017, 04:41 PM »
tomos, no pun was intended, and you're right about the knot. Again, I'm thankful for your personal motivational explanations; almost always motivations are entangled, not pure. No pun intended either with the following which also should play in your persevering choice of DO over its competitors; and yes, people have the right to choose the software of their choice, I'm just interested in the possible underlying motivations since I think coders could write better software if they fully understood those. So:


Is it possible to sell software by cool?

"Selling" meaning here selling more and/or selling at higher than regular prices; "cool" meaning by coolness, by a high quality image, by an image of sheer brilliance, of elegance, which of course should be conveyed by optimized user experience (interaction with the gui), but probably will be communicated by the graphical design.

I also think this was easier in the early days of Windows, since then some applications came with graphic layouts which simple weren't available from the competition, for some time at least; for example, both Word and Word Perfect had lots of prestige over WordStar; at the time, they both came with so-called proportional fonts and formatting, when WordStar had no formatting yet and only had a monospace font, on screen and on paper, which was even a big double step back behind what the dedicated text processors of the day were able to do (which WordStar recouped technically, it was far too late; that was another example of user experience, "prettiness", as a very big sales advantage); today I don't see much many such application with a superior coolness factor, neither do I see it brings much money.

Again, DO comes to mind (price range above), and then again, TheBrain, which is a graphical database and thus asks for 249$ instead of its competitors which do it without graphic representation but more functionally and which see in the range of 90-100$ instead or even less; another try at this had been some Brazilian wiki which sold for 120 or 130$, with some graphic representation; it's down to 40 now: It becomes evident that coolness is not a function of superior functionality alone and cannot even reached by it if other functionality is under-developed so that the application isn't that useful in the end.

TheBrain is not that bad an example for a certain degree of coolness; in fact it's graphical representation provides promises for easy inter-linking even of remote elements, and there's a strong promise of usefulness in this, when in fact, this application does not make it as easy as it promises, but certainly it's easier done here than in its list-based competitors; it's evident that they should allow for easy linking of the current element to any element in a list of search results, to ease this up considerably.

Anyway, I think the notion of [p]promise to do something more[/b] with it than currently is a strong factor in cool: promise of widening up your current capabilities, even if that promise is not fulfilled by the design of the software since it gets too complicated then, and availability of the important elements increases again. I repeat myself here by referring to my "Pulse" concept in my Navicat Review (link above), but I'm sure indeed that metadata, not only (relatively) stable metadata but also sort of "semi-plastic" metadata-on-the-run (which means immediate on/off, and with the possibility to store, also in combinations) should play a prominent role in displaying data/elements.

In other words, it's the notion of power to / empowerment of the user which comes into play for a prospect to shield out considerably more money than for similar applications: The user pays more for feeling to be in charge; things becoming too complicated will dampen this feeling but it may be too late then.

Thus, it's important for software to bring feelings of power-over-the-data quite early on in the trial period, in order for the prospect to buy the thing, even if later on they're let down by over-complication.

Two - quite different - Todo applications sell for more than some others, Swift To-Do List and MLO; it's not about more functionality, it's about the user feeling in control with their things when using either of them. Compare with the equally and in part even more powerful TaskMerlin which in practical use is a complete mess; sorry to say this but I tried them, and I fully understand why the other two are so much more successful, at least that's what I suppose from allegedly large user bodies mentioning them quite often.

So it's about feeling good again, but here again, it's Microsoft who throw the market upside down, more and more people now using OneNote (which is available for free), and which has go some additional functionality which comes very handy, so I'm not sure about the future of TheBrain and other text databases, and of its future as a premium offer (249$), all the less so when I think about how it will conveniently display data on a smartphone (or a tiny tablet), "lists are more mobile" if I may say so.

In the early days of mindmap programs, mindmap programs in themselves were something prestigious, the same was true for Flowcharters. The latter are an almost defunct software category by now, and Mindmaps don't live their old age really well either. Here again, Microsoft dumped most possible use cases of these programs of today with their ubiquitous presentation software.

At this point in time, it's doubtful if any desktop application can build up prestige, since the sheer fact that it's not available out of the office destroys any prestige it could have strived at by other means. Also, and even if you do not need the data (to that extent) on the road, the user's sense of "control" is damaged if they technically cannot access their material from mobile devices: the absence of the possibility, if ever needed, devalues the software, since that absence limits and thus devalues the user (It's in the rare cases where the data is simply never used on mobile devices where this does not apply: here again, Adobe are very lucky since they would have a big problem, did their customers wish to make mobile use of their applications.

Also, I'm positive about the fact that in the end, any try to choose what data you will need to access by mobile devices, and which data can stay in the office, will fail, so cloud storage, and whenever needed, private cloud storage, will eventually take over, and this brings a new aspect to the notion of "elegance": Elegance of access: Speed, completeness, economy in the use of the limits of the lesser mobile devices (less speed, less screen estate, less keyboard use), in a word optimization within the dearth.

This possibly includes alternative display of data than on the screens in the office, and nevertheless "it being all there", and without the user to have too heavily to adapt, will be the developers' challenge.

Did I say SalesForce has prices of around 20$ per mobile device and per month for very basic functionality, and that their prices reach a whopping vicinity of 200$ per mobile device and per month for the full functionality set? I cannot judge the price/value of this, but it becomes evident from this example that some software makers now try to build up price value from a notion of "complete access", while it should go without saying that in 2017 and further, complete access must become the common ground, the condition every modern software must fulfill, and then the exceptional user experience, by ease of use, can justify some higher price; prices nearing 200$ a month per mobile device seem outrageous, and it's then of interest if such corporations try to hold data as hostage, for example by weird formats, since it's obvious this market of the future holds a lot of opportunities by being cheaper.

This is not a contradiction to what I've said above: When both prices do no real harm, being cheaper in itself is of no value, but if the market leaders practice prices out of the reach, there's plenty of space to entice customers away, if that's technically feasible, for those customers that is.

From what I see, pc software has never been really cool then, and few applications for the general public have succeeded, and then in a quite limited way, to position themselves over their competition. I'm sure this will change for web applications; it's quite a difference if the price gap between two competing applications is 50$ every two years (DO vs its competitors), or if it's 50$ per user and month.


It's ironic that while the cool factor never that much entered into play for software, it's quite different for operating systems. I don't really know MacOS, but it always has been acclaimed as the far superior and "cool" system (it seems there's some "Finder", perhaps there are other things superior); Windows has always been functional at best. The same is true for iOS vs Android, the former is seen as cool, the latter as functional... at best.

This is of high relevance since Apple prices are not only a function of their beautifying the hardware, and they decidedly do, but in order to get the operating system, you had and you have to buy the hardware from them, and this factor cannot be undervalued.

It's ironic Apple predominance for quality/prestige/elegance seekeers (these terms are not synonyms, even though with regards to Apple products, some observers take them for that) will probably come to an end with the full advent of software as a service. (If I were them, I'd develop a totally superior browser into which then web services could hook like never before.

Remember the web browser was the first real try to standardize the gui (I'm not speaking of standardization of gui elements in dedicated applications), and in 2017, it's said that iOS applications are better than their functional browser counterparts, but this is too inefficient in the long run and will come to an end, and thus there's room for some super-browser which gives superior quality (incl. speed and all) for some web applications which will function then much better than in vanilla browsers, and I'm sure those web applications will be the future, but it's not possible to make them as high-brow when at the same time they are expected to function as well in a whole bunch of disparate run-of-the-mill browsers; some of the big shots will grasp this opportunity, and application development will tremendously benefit from it.

ital2

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Re: On software pricing
« Reply #13 on: May 13, 2017, 03:47 AM »
(second of 2 posts immediately following each other)

InfoSelect would have been a good example though since it had been one of the very first full-fledged text databases, and thus in its time, it must have been something quite special, "empowerment" and all, it was there at the time, by lack of much competition; similar for askSam which targeted the same market, more or less, perhaps with a little bit more weight put on the "archiving" side (imported documents; it also was the perfect crm database for people who didn't want to invest in database programming: "fields"), while InfoSelect was marketed more as a personal information manager?

Both programs came with high prices at the time, with askSam within the then usual 1,000$ price range (see above), and while I don't know the InfoSelect price of the time, it's always around 300$ now (or is it down to 249?), which doesn't convey any more exclusivity but just makes many people shaking their heads in disbelief (askSam is defunct): the degree of technical superiority hadn't been upheld accordingly.

Also come to mind, but I may be mistaken here: dBase, the expensive program for "experts", vs Paradox, the "cheap" program for people who were less so?

Anyway, it's evident that today, TheBrain plays with exclusivity, the notion of "not being for everyone, but for sophisticated customers", which when successfully communicated, allows for higher pricing.

As said, the promise is about more complete and more immediate access to all your stuff, by alleged plastic/flexible access/display, with free, immediate interlinking, while the cheaper "competitors" (which all compete more within their group than with TheBrain: this is a core aspect of the exclusivity concept) are built in trees, more or less like concrete, and then the better ones must superimpose the concept of "cloning" which makes those trees a little bit more flexible.

Another concept by which developers try to break up the inflexibility inherent to trees, is done by replacing the tree by tagging (CintaNotes, Clibu), where then, very ironically and in order to preserve the accessibility of the material with rising element count, a tag tree is put up, but this thread is not for prematurely ridiculing tag trees as a possible dead-end; CintaNotes Professional now allows for inspecting how such a tag tree (not only for sub-tags (tag-hierarchy), but also and in particular for tag combinations) works in practice, and the developer of Clibu delves deep into the arising problems, too, from beta to beta.

But there is a problem with trees indeed, and I think that the solution comes with avoiding non-plastic, non-just-virtual, ephemeral trees altogether, from a rethink of a the link paradigm. (A traditional tree is nothing but ONE basic form of link: unidirectional ones of the meaning parent-child ((possibly multiple and equal) subordination links in each parent: "has as immediate child"), even "siblings" aren't but elements which have got the same ancestors, in exactly the same lineage (path identity), and their order in the list (which is also present in mindmaps and in TheBrain, just not so prominently displayed) is then determined by the order in which their links are in their parent (if you had unidirectional links in the other direction: "has as parent", the order would be lost, and you have a classic tag tree; you can of course introduce more metadata from which then the order will be re-established).

But this is a thread about software pricing and not about links and trees being too basic, just let me say here that trees should be a display, not a storage format for knowledge bases (I'm speaking of the metadata concepts within the underlying relational database here; I know that they technically aren't tree databases anymore), even less so since the full tree will be rarely of use, so it's a conceptual error to build it up to begin with. But that's another subject, also with regards to current file systems on the Windows front.

Anyway, TheBrain conceptually does a little bit more already than some traditional text databases do and thus is able, for the time being, to sell for 250 to 500 per cent of their prices, while I cannot identify the relative weights of this factor and the "it's alternative, graphic display here" one, the latter also being sort of evidence for the former one and thus reassuring the customer: it's not only "pretty", but it's also "proof" of alleged superiority, looks let aside.

For DO, my other example of choice here, it's quite similar: There, too, there is much visual plasticity integrated which is not available (to that degree at least) from its competitors, and here again, that's a promise of both technical superiority and better, more complete, more easy, more immediate access, in short:

A promise of being in better control - but without it becoming too demanding for that. - I think herein lies the secret, or at least this should be the main element of several ones playing together.


See the original thread http://www.donationc....msg408619#msg408619 (Navicat Review) from which this is a spin-off, and the spin-off of this thread here, http://www.donationc....msg409068#msg409068 (How NOT to conceive trials (and some new ideas about them)).


EDIT June 10, 2017: Too many giveaways for a given software
In the "Trials" thread, I also spoke of the combination paid software vs freeware versions of the same software with the respect to trial design. Here with regards to software pricing, freeware and giveaways (which are not the same marketing means of course but which sometimes go hand in hand), it's again worth discussing.

My example today is Zoom Player which sells for 40$ (or with lifetime updates for 100$); it's regularly on "sale" sites for much less, it has got a freeware version which is available all around the year, and in particular, its paid version is regularly on giveaway sites, you guessed it, for free, sometimes just a 100 licenses, and most of the time, without such restrictions, and so I now proudly own a permanent license now while the last time, the time before and the dozens of times I could have downloaded it for free from somewhere, I didn't even bother to do so: The frenzy by which it had been thrown after anyone wanting it, had sufficiently devalued it in my eyes; 1 day a year is probably ok but every three weeks or so, come on!

But then, this software has deep problems, even independently of its kamikaze marketing: Somewhere, they say, "Its GUI has been developed the non-techy user in mind." (citation from memory), and indeed, its GUI is quite terrible, not only in the free, but also in the paid version, and 40$ is not nothing, so it better had some standard functionality the competition has got, too.

Have a look at the free vs paid versions comparison table: http://www.inmatrix....layer_download.shtml - wow: That's a lot of functionality, on paper, or on screen!

Also, in the settings menu, there is some "advanced" option, and then, the same settings menu gets "on steroids", to employ that terrible expression you encounter almost daily with respect to software nowadays.

So we've got some contradiction between the 13-year-olds' GUI and the "hidden powers", on top of the fact that there are some other free alternatives, like VLC, but there are more.

And, as far as I have tried it out, Zoom Player (paid) comes with a Trump mode: it doesn't deliver ("Trump mode" isn't my find, I just like it so much): For example, for DVDs, in the "advanced mode" of the settings, you can opt for premier language English (or some other) for the sound track, the sub titles, the DVD menus, but:

- just 1 choice; NOT: "original language if English or Norvegian or Italian" or whatever, NO second choice for original soundtrack Norvegian or Italian" (or whatever), NO second choice for sub titles (first choice English, if not available: Norvegian, let alone of some third choice: if not available: Italian) or whatever: So, if you regularly see films from 2 or more countries, no way of presetting the original languages and preferred sub titles in order of precedence;

- it doesn't even work (Trump mode); instead of English (which is available on these DVDs), it gets to some other language, so it's really, really bad.

There are NO settings for DVD languages case by case, from this program, as there are in ANY real competitor, ie in paid video players, as for example in WinDVD I press a for the sound track and s for the sub titles.

Oh, but there are, probably, if you download and install some additional filters, just look into their forum, from 2004 on, but sorry, I'm too dumb to install all this, and then I don't know how to do the language choice for a given DVD: I want to see the film, not doing settings for 15 minutes every time, and I didn't find the commands for variable fast forward and all that either, the GUI's just too primitive.

So Zoom Player (paid) probably is a product with no market since as soon as you pay, there are probably much better tools around, and its special functionality is VERY special - it has got an API but that probably will not mean you just have to pay the developer 40$ and then can distribute the embedded player in your own software; of course, some people that make use of its special crafts will buy, probably pay 100 and are done with it for all time.

And other people will continue to use the freeware version or get the paid version on those around 12 occasions p.a. it's free.

So my guess is, you only give away paid software for free with such regularity if you're really desperate and have built a piece of software which is not coherent at all. To the developer: Make it, from "free vs 40$ but free 12 times a year", "free vs 20$ year-round" and discover that you'll much better results, and rename it "Quirky Player" - no, no, the latter suggestion's just a joke.

Yes, I know, "Americans don't need other languages" - but is that correct?

When other video players do the settings per DVD and you do it within your general settings, why don't you do it a meaningful manner, as described above? Even in the U.S., a choice for English or Spanish first, then English OR Spanish subs and menus would be helpful, let alone Canada with French (3 choices, by order of precedence), and not speaking of the rest of the world.

Thus: Whenever you do pricing, discover your market(s) first, and think about your software and if it appeals to its possible market(s) in its current state; if not, amend your software. (What I would do, I'd downright cut off Zoom Player into two different programs, with quite a different GUI for the "professional" version (assuming here that the advanced features it must have and which I was unable to discover are of real use for some, that is) and some 20$ enhanced version.) And: Don't give away your software so often (if at all) that anybody remotely interested in it will have plenty of occasions to get it for free. Well, that's so basic I'm almost ashamed of putting it down, but then, that's as obvious as them doing a 10-days trial for software that could seriously be trialed only after many weeks of basic (free) use.

EDIT June 11, 2017: As for ridiculous-pricing, see my today's add-on over at "Software Trials" (link above): The player software "PowerDVD" currently is available at half-price again, but according to my observations - or should I better say impressions, since I don't check daily admittedly? -, that's the case about 3/4 of the year (with that and its siblings, link over there in the thread linked here - it's just the percentages that vary a little bit, here and there), and those few people who really buy at statutury price, not knowing any better, get all my sympathy. It's like those Persian rags "85 p.c. off" where the "85 p.c. off" price is the expected price and probably three times too much paid, but what do I know.


EDIT June 13, 2017: TheBrain
More on TheBrain (in general and on its pricing) over there in the "Trial" thread (incl. external links); also, my stance on TB expressed there is more balanced and more detailed; my formula above about it "not being functional" has been way too sloppy and not correct in its acrimony.
« Last Edit: June 13, 2017, 06:55 AM by ital2 »

IainB

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Re: On software pricing
« Reply #14 on: May 15, 2017, 12:14 AM »
...Fact is, the more sophisticated software is - and all those file managers, DO, XY..., xplorer2 are -, the lesser the chances for a competing product to replace software a user is quite accustomed to already, for the additional reason of their time / learning / knowledge / know-how investment then being invalidated. ...
____________________________

Yes, I reckon that is generally likely to be true - and is specifically so in my case (being a longtime user of xplorer²). I reckon that, in xplorer², I have what is the "best" (as in "meets approx. 80% or more of all my peculiar requirements for a file manager") from what is a relatively wide selection of arguably very good alternative file managers. I have trialled all/most of these main alternatives too, out of interest and for comparison. As a software "agnostic", I can quite see why other users could have different peculiar requirements for a file manager that might (say) be better satisfied by some other file manager product(s) than xplorer², though I am almost daily reminded how brilliantly useful xplorer² is for my purposes.

Preference/choice for software can be a complex matter. There are so many criteria - and they are not necessarily always properly understood or articulated by the user - that one might consciously and/or unconsciously apply to selection of a piece of software. Some of those requirements one only newly-discovers on using/trialling a product, but once discovered, they become "yours". For example, that is what happened a lot to me whilst I was trialling MS OneNote.

I learned some time ago that it could be amazingly useful to help users identify and prioritise their requirements for product functionality (not product "features"), by means of conducting a methodical analysis. I apply this approach to my own requirements also.
For example, I drew this up a while back for a clipboard manager - another brilliantly useful piece of software called Clipboard Help & Spell (CHS):  User Requirements for CHS

I'm not really all that interested in clipboard managers for their own sake, but in how they can help me as a tool in a set of tools to better meet my evolving functional requirements for information/knowledge management. You will be able to see my approach to this detailed here: Microsoft OneNote - how to make it your 21st century Zettelkasten PIM.