Genii Weblog

Who pays?

Mon 26 May 2003, 10:07 PM

by Ben Langhinrichs
There is an interesting commentary over at Dave Winer's blog called Who Will Pay for Software? (part 2).  This echoes some of the issues that have come up with pricing of our products, and those of other Notes/Domino ISVs.  While most companies buying Midas or COEX! Links are corporations, and find the prices fairly reasonable, a certain number have been swayed by the vast numbers of free or almost-free software packages available.  As much as I like the open source movement for its shared efficiencies, it too has led to an idea that software can be free.  Software is never free.  Even if you don't pay for it, the software was not free.  Even if it is open source and developed by volunteers, somebody gave time and effort to create that software.  On occasion, it was an IBM or other corporation that has something to gain (see Joel on Software's analysis), but often it was not.  In any case, most companies can't develop software for free for long before they go out of business.  We have been selling, and supporting, Midas since 1997.  That is right, since 1997, when it was running on Notes 4.1.  We would not be supporting it today, and adding features such as our new SmartRefs technology, and adding support for Notes 6 features such as layers, except that we have continued to sell it, not just give it away.  

Next time you wonder why you have to pay "so much" for software, try to imagine how much you'll appreciate that price two years later when you are still getting free updates and support, and need help with a problem that couldn't have existed when you bought the software, since that version of Notes hadn't been released.  That is when you should appreciate, not merely accept, that software isn't free.

Copyright 2003 Genii Software Ltd.

What has been said:

13.1. Rob McDonagh
(05/27/2003 08:02 AM)

Some good points. He's wrong to dismiss the 'how MUCH will we pay' question, though. I consider Quicken an absolute life saver, and I paid $29.95 for it. I buy single-purpose shareware all the time, as long as it costs less than $25. I buy developer tools that cost less than $300 if I'm going to use them often enough (speaking of which, what WOULD a single-developer license of Midas run for, to be used for personal, family-related fun stuff?). But I won't buy Macromedia's Dreamweaver suite, no matter how many people rave about it, because I've never seen it at a reasonable price. Reasonable is an entirely subjective word, of course, which is why you're debating what to charge for things.

My point, though, is that I don't expect software to be FREE, any more than I expect music to be free - I expect them to be reasonably priced. $17.95 for 10 songs, of which I will enjoy 4-5, is not reasonable to me. Going to Apple's music store and buying those 4-5 for $.99 apiece IS reasonable. And yes, I've already spent some money there, and will spend more.

But then, I don't consider Open Source software to be free, either, because there is a risk cost associated with the lack of a vendor to provide support (and upgrades, and training, etc). Some people forget to put monetary value on those 'soft' costs, though...

13.2. Ben Langhinrichs
(05/30/2003 12:21 PM)

I just realized I never did answer your question about Midas. We don't have a "personal" license. We have a VSB (Very Small business) license for $500 if your company is 10 people or smaller, which will expand with you up to the 50 people we allow in a base client license. On the other hand, we are very free about including developer licenses in with any sales, so must deveelopers who have sold Midas to any client have a non-expiring license they can use at no cost.