Ben Langhinrichs

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September, 2010
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Civility in critiquing the ideas of others is no vice. Rudeness in defending your own ideas is no virtue.


Wed 15 Sep 2010, 12:03 PM
In the various discussions of AppStores and cheap utilities, I find it interesting to think about who buys rather than what they buy.  In my business, the software that is bought by administrators sells for six times the software that is bought by developers, and yet sells more easily.  Obviously, they solve different problems, but I am curious how the equations work out for small apps, utilities and templates.

Putting aside what the app, utility or template does exactly, who could/would make the decision to buy it in your company?

Priced between $5 and $10
Priced between $50 and $100
Priced between $500 and $1000
Priced between $5000 and $10000

It is likely that the answers differ.  In the company I used to work for years ago, the answers probably would have been:

Priced between $5 and $10        Me! (I might have expensed it or not)
Priced between $50 and $100      My manager (probably using company credit card)
Priced between $500 and $1000    My manager's boss (probably using company credit card)
Priced between $5000 and $10000  Vice president (my manager would have submitted request)

Note that it doesn't matter what the software does, on the whole.  The implications of that are twofold.  The first is, super cheap apps can be marketed to developers or users directly, while even low priced apps may need to provide justification to a manager.  The second might be the time required.  Hypothetically speaking, let's look at the same price points and figure out the delay between seeing and purchasing:

Priced between $5 and $10        Now! (If it seems worth it, I would buy it.  What's the risk?)
Priced between $50 and $100      Couple of days (to track down manager, explain app)
Priced between $500 and $1000    Week or more (even harder to nail down)
Priced between $5000 and $10000  Week or more to six months (usually the latter)

Again, without even determining what the software does, and without going into which will be approved and which will not, we can make some rough decisions about who is the target audience, who is the decision maker, what time frame is likely to be required.  It is worth looking at the business aspects of the apps, utilities and templates separately from the specific technical details.

What would the answers be in your company?  What others questions would price by itself determine?

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