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Surfulater 3 - huge price hike (166%) + where is the Firefox add-on?

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Surfulater started off priced way too low at $35 with a 25% early bird discount on top of that, not to mention Donation Coder and other specials. Unless you have a mass market product it is difficult to build a long term sustainable business at such low prices. The time spent on one support request instantly removes any profit. So we raised the price to $59 a while back and reduced the early bird discount amount. With Version 3 we have added more important new functionality with lots more to come in the 3.x series. We have increased the price again, to $79 which we feel is reasonable and necessary. There is a $10 discount which makes this only $69 for new customers. And for the first time in four years we have charged for an upgrade. We possibly should have extended the paid upgrade period beyond two years and we will reconsider that.-nevf (November 14, 2008, 05:15 PM)
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I think that there are a number of elements of wishful thinking in here.

The first is about paying for support. Corporates expect it and are willing to pay. Most users of low price software will take it if they can get it, but are happy enough with support through forums with much of it coming from experienced users rather than the developers; they are rarely willing to pay anything/much for support. So, if you split support activity into two (those dealing with issues/bugs where users are actually providing free help to improving the software and those helping users use features already present and correct) and the second type of support is proving considerable, then an assumption that customers will be ready to pay for it may not be correct and it might be better to cut back on that support.

Second, experienced users are likely to be less expensive users of support and should therefore be cheaper customers in terms of future costs. They also cost nothing to acquire (and I would point out that new customers are expected to be expensively gained in most industries).

Thirdly, there may be NO price at which the desired (needed) income is achieved. The number of customers at higher prices will be lower; it is very easy to increase price and reduce income. In many ways it is easier to increase price from a low price base than to increase the number of customers after reducing price. It is certainly important to avoid shocking customers and potential customers. One approach to doing this is to choose a high or very high price point but to have a lot of offers and low upgrade prices; over time the average % reduction of the offers can be reduced and the customer base will have gradually shifted to a perception that the 'correct' price is high.

Fourthly, any software prooducer needs to know their market well. Especially if they are trying to charge more than their most direct competitors. I've never bought or trialled Surfulater, though I have read the threads here. I do have Evernote 2 & 3, Ultra Recall Pro and OneNote (and Do-Organiser), and expect to buy IQ at some point; I never saw Surfulater as an alternative to them from my own perspective and therefore have no idea what a realistically competitive price is for Surfulater. I do know that I never paid as much as $69 for any of these products. And many of the reactions here suggest that the new price is too high for many people.

I use Surfulater a lot for research in writing my newsletter for teachers.

I wanted to review the Upgrade product because this represents an application of tremendous value for teachers. In fact, my previous reviews of the product placed it in the "Must Have" category for teachers.

Unfortunately, the upgrade price puts this application out of a range that most teachers can afford. Perhaps the company will consider academic pricing in the future.

I asked the company for a review copy before learning about the price increase, but never heard back on that request.

I suppose that I will pay for the upgrade if it is half-price. I believe that there might be a new feature to allow installation on up to three computers, i.e., home system, laptop and office system. This makes sense for a workaholic researcher.

The previous version of Surfulater was great for a writer, teacher, researcher. Programmers and coders wouldn't find the graphical capture very interesting. If I can't obtain the upgrade at a reasonable price, I'll reinstall Version 2. (Since previous upgrades were without charge, I upgraded, thinking that this version was also free. Surprise!)

The capture never worked completely for Firefox, but functioned correctly for IE. The lack of cross-browser support is limiting, especially for teacher that work in Mac environments.

My favorite text information capture program is InfoSelect (also not a low cost program). This program has a portable version allows selected database information to be carried on a Palm Pilot. Great for technical support.

I asked the company for a review copy before learning about the price increase, but never heard back on that request.
-jjc (December 11, 2008, 07:29 AM)
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Dear Joseph,
On 4th Nov we received an e-mail from you requesting a free upgrade to Surfulater version 3. We had previously provided you with a free evaluation license for Surfulater version 2. On 12 Nov Avi e-mailed you the following:


Sure, we would love to have you do a review. Have you downloaded the Surfulater 3 trial yet, and just need a license?

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We never received a reply to our e-mail. We have had problems communicating with you in the past. Most likely because of spam filtering at your end. We have notified you of this and asked you to check your spam folders and spam filters. I really don't know what else we can do, especially seeing you never followed up with us.

I replied to Avi the day after I received his reply, and I did check all SPAM filters for several days after that.

After the post on Donation Coder this morning,  I purchased the Upgrade to Surfulater 3 (because I convinced myself of my need for the product).

I assumed that, because Avi took 9 days to respond to my original message, that he just hadn't gotten around to my reply, especially since I placed a timeline for being able to review the product for my November Newsletter. I also had a number of suggestions.

Besides suggesting that Surfulater offer educational discounts, I also pointed out the benefit for developing a server version of the program since this would be a selling point to school district IT professionals.  (Stand alone applications on individual desktops basically get installed when the system are re-imaged. School districts seldom have the staff for machine-by-machine software installs. School districts represent a huge, untapped market, and teachers require real tools to integrate technology into their lesson planning and lesson delivery.

I also asked about site licensing for school campuses, and about reselling the product.

I still have these interests, although the review will have to wait until the January 31, 2009 issue of my newsletter.

I continue believe that the product is a "must have" for teachers, even if few of them will be able to spring for the cost of a personal copy. This is where a USB port of the program would be viable. Teachers conduct the majority of their research and lesson planning at home, then carry their work in to school. Or, they E-mail their work to themselves. Of course, saving a lot of Web page graphics on the USB drive might present storage issues, but I am sure that there is a work around. USB drives continue to fall in price, and the cost of the drive might be bundled with the application.

Thanks for your interest and concern.

I have checked with Avi and he never received a reply from you. Who knows why. No e-mail came to our normal support address either. Maybe you could re-send it.

The best place to discuss Surfulater is over on our support forums. We also have a "Private Messaging" service there, that is a great fallback when e-mail communications isn't for whatever reason working.

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