This reminds me of a joke: Why do dogs lick their crotch?
I know if I was on the other side of the fence, I'd be doing exactly as what some of these companies are doing. Jacking my prices as high as I thought could get away with, then I'd bump them up a little more. Companies with unique, popular products have always done this (already mentioned in this thread: petrolium products, housing, mac-and-chee') just look at the art market, skyrocketing event ticket prices, high end computer hardware, sports cars, etc., etc., etc.! It's no wonder software is catching up.
Lets face it, most pirated software is perfectly safe in terms of viruses/malware. You'd be hard pressed to convince me that a serial number aquired from the internet is going to somehow expose me to viruses.
Also, I think we can all agree that there's very little chance of getting caught using pirated software. Hell, it's probably fairly rare for someone selling or distributing pirated software to get caught, much less the end user.
So, the only real benifits people get from legitimately buying software is what I'm calling 'the squishy feeling' and possibly easier access to updates.
Also, no matter how good your product is, nobody will use it if they don't know about it. If you aren't making any money on your stuff, it's going to be very hard to justify spending money to market it. It's a giant catch 22, and it's unavoidable. Word of mouth, and nerd sites (like this one*) are only so effective. KeyPass is an excellent program, but not many people have heard of it, and even less use it, even though almost everyone with a computer could probably benifit from it. I suppose donations could make up for the lack of actual sales. But, again; the squishy feeling is the only incentive to donate in most cases, and to may people, it isn't enough to actually take out their credit card.
1. Unique stuff is expensive
2. "The Squishy Feeling" is only worth so much money.
3. Catch 22 (no revenue, no marketing, not many new customers)
*I say this in the most loving way possible
Sorry, I can't tell if I'm just rambling or making valid points. I guess in summation the best (but I'd say, least likely to become widespread) solution to high software prices is close to what zridling
said in the first post: Support the people who make good software and treat their users right. OR we can get off our high horse and pirate more (probably the second least likely to become widespread). OR we can just grin and bear it, bend over and take it, get screwed by the system, etc. (pretty much already happening).
I think if donations garnered more than the squishy feeling (#2) software developers could get a lot more money to beat the giant catch 22 (#3).
- CCleaner has a good idea: donate $20 or more and get the new versions before everyone else. I think this could be expanded. First quantify "sooner". Maybe keep the software "supporter only" for a month. Or, have different tiers: get the software 4 weeks early for $15, 3 weeks for $12, 2 weeks for $8, or a week for $5. (Obviously different price structures could be set up).
- This site use-to have a good idea (I'm not sure if it's still the case): donate anything and get discounts on software. Although I think I'd impose a minimum maybe it's good that there wasn't. I think my
first donation was under a dollar...
- I think the prospect of unlimited lifetime updates is worth some money, even for freeware software. People know that good things don't always last. Take a program like Xnview. It's free now, but I suppose I might be enticed to donate $10 or so NOW in exchange for free updates in the future, should it become payware.