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What does it mean when I say "successful freeware"?

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What do we mean by successful? Well known in its field, a million downloads, top of the pile in Google searches?
There are many definitions of successful.
I like to think I produce a range of successful software, and altogether I  can identify about 250,000 downloads, but this is small beer compared to something,like Opera, yet search for something generic such as web browser in Google and opera ranks as the 5th entry, a multi-billion pound / dollar budget is not all that helpful either, try typing office and Microsoft can only reach number 5.
Both of these examples are leaders in their respective fields and are considered successful, but does number 5 on Google constitute meeting criteria number 7, either for free or commercial software.
Now try a search for assistive software and check the entries at number 1 and 2, free assistive software, look at entry number 3.  There are over 500 sites and blogs which refer to this site, so is this site more successful than both Opera and Microsoft Office, or maybe its just the fact that this site is aimed at a smaller specialist group of users.
Ultimately, what I am trying to say is that success is something which cannot be defined in such constrained parameters, but needs to take account of things like market sector, competing software relevance, if any.

Taking your original points,

1. I do show some of the software to people, but mostly its word of mouth / blogger reviews which encourages the use, and yes due to the relevance of the software, users continue using it.
2, 3 & 4. Ditto above ref blogger reviews.
5.  Probably 1 request per thousand downloads
6.  Depends, if its stable and fit for purpose, why follow the bloating of commercial apps if there is no need for it.
7.  Damn good position due to reviews and blogs, plus relevant keyword planning
8.  After 250000 downloads and inclusion on many AT freeware compilations throughout the world, not one offer of support or donation has been received.
9.  Difficult, as I plan to get required functionality without extension - see comment about bloating above.
10. I am never surprised as to the uses, but that may be due to the target market and the ingenuity required therein.

So, my question is, is my software successful?

I think search terms used is most important to find the right and best software.
With 'free assistive software' your site comes up.
Other terms are used to find this kind of help.
'assistive' comes up as spelled wrong here in FF.
Although it is a word spelled correctly.
'assistance' or 'assistant' is the most likely best spelled term to use.

Your site, kip, .

Nice work btw, these should be among the first 5 for any search for helping with seeing what is in print on the screen along with the other visually helpful items you have.

Thanks for the thoughts cmpm, and a very special thank you to Cranioscopical - you know why my friend.

to echo one point kip made, if you consider the number or amount of donations as a criteria for having a successful freeware application, then you are settings yourself up for failure.  even people who love your software are very unlikely to donate -- it's just not something that people are used to doing (yet).

Oh where to start...

This is going to be a bit long, so feel free to skip to headings. My aim is to see *WHERE* people's interest in this discussion lies.


It helps to know who's speaking, so for the benefit of those that don't know me...

ABOUT MEI do software for a living. I have freeware, commercial, and "use and abuse" software available. My flagship product is GDT. It helps put food on the table.

I've worked for different software companies both full time and on a consultancy basis.

I originally came to DC after finding a compression software review about ALZip -- a program from ESTsoft, a company that I used to work for.

ALZip is freeware for personal use (in Korea) and requires a license for non-personal use (education, government, companies).

All ALTools were freeware for personal use while I was there. Some of that has changed. (See for more information.)

I've done work for fortune 500 companies and lesser known companies as well.

I stopped counting the number of downloads that I'd driven in 2007 when I'd more than surpassed 100,000,000.

Hopefully that provides a bit of context.


I think it's important to define "success" and it's important to place some kind of metrics on that.

Key metrics:

* Money
* Money
* Money
* Downloads
* Installed base
* Active user base
* Money
* Money
* Money

Ok. I emphasized money there, but that's because of the world we live in. Money == Success.

I write software because I love it. But I also need to put food on the table, fix the car, pay the rent, etc. etc. etc. All that takes money.


Freeware takes several forms.

* Labour of love
* Demonstration of ability
* Business
* Boredom

Some people write freeware because they love something and want to do something. It's personal. Success is then mostly irrelevant.

Some people want to demonstrate their ability and perhaps get a consulting gig or better job or whatever. Success is then how it advances their career.

Some people are simply bored and write freeware as a hobby. Success is then self-defined.

And sometimes freeware is a business. This is where "success" is most interesting. This is the part that I'd like to comment on.


This is difficult.

Is this the point of interest?


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