Whats the right price of software?

I decided to write this post after reading a blog called “Black Label from Adobe rdquo;. This post has a photo of a black brochure that (according to the author of the blog) Adobe mails to marketing agencies in Russia. The brochure is titled “What would you do without Adobe in your life? rdquo;

This post is written in Russian, but I “ll translate the important part for you:

“Imagine, what do we feel when Adobe products are being used illegally. Install only licensed Adobe products. Do not take a risk, protect yourself from legal consequences of using illegal software.

Try to imagine that hellip;

hellip;someone has stolen your ideas you “ve been working on your entire life, and offers them as his own and receives an award for this hellip;someone just fired you without paying for your work hellip;someone has used your good reputation to sell his own products or services of a lower quality hellip;and after doing all this tries not to be accountable for this stating, “What “s the big deal? There is nothing wrong with it, everybody does it rdquo; hellip;

How would you feel?

In my opinion, sending these kinds of letters won “t help in the countries with very low salaries, especially if purchasing software is not a habit. Imagine a situation when you are giving a plate full of food to a hungry person saying, “Please do not touch the food until you “ll find utensils. rdquo;

This post has lots of comments made by Russian software engineers, and some of them make comments that they “d love to purchase licensed versions of the software, but they could not afford to shell out half of their monthly salary for a program. Another person writes that Microsoft sells their products in Russia for half price while Adobe sells CS3 in the USA for $998 and for $1500 in Russia (the author is not sure though who adds this markup ndash; Adobe or resellers).

But having the right salary is not enough for starting purchasing software. Here in America, programmers can afford purchasing software, but not all of them do so. Usually employers purchase the software and employees are just using it for free. Lots of American programmers make illegal copies of the software and use it at home. People are getting cracked versions of software or ust download serial numbers of the products from the Web.

Recently, one of the senior software engineers wrote that he does not want to use any software that is not open sourced. It “s a pretty weird statement. I “m sure this guy did not try to create and sell his own software.

Our company has created an open sourced code generator called DaoFlex. This was a command-line program with minimal documentation. It was well received and we decided to create a more user-friendly version of this program as a plugin for Eclipse. We knew how to do it, invested time and resources to coding and documenting of this plugin. Since we invested into development of this plugin with our personal savings, we decided that this will be a commercial plugin that we “d sell. To make the story short, in about 6 months the plugin was ready. We ‘ve spent more money on creating the Web site (www.myflex.org ) to support sales. We “ve written a license management module and ensured that the license will get expired after the trial period.

The pricing was the next question. How much should we sell it for? On one hand we wanted it to be affordable. On the other hand it should not be dirt chip either, because more sales means more support calls and the need to hire an engineer just for the tech support. And lastly, we “d like to at least break even by selling this product.

Anyway, we set the price of $399 for this particular plugin. People started purchasing this product, , and all in all we believe that the this product is not overpriced given the huge time savings that this code generator brings to any enterprise Flex/Java shop.


1. If our software will be cracked, I won “t get upset because it proves that we really created something useful.

2. Investing serious money into software protection is useless ndash; hackers will break it anyway (if they care).

3. Our main perspective customers are corporations from developed countries, and they usually pay for licenses – this is a huge market for us.

4. We may switch to a dual licensing model and will give our software away for free to individual users, but we ‘ll charge our corporate clients for this software.

5. There is a small number of people that will pay for the software even if they can get it for free, but this is a minority, and it “ll stay this way for a while.

6. I believe that in 10-15 years most of the software will become available for free.

7. Fighting with software piracy is as useless as fighting with marijuana. A well known comedian M. Zhvanetsky put it, “This is not a fight and this is not a result rdquo;.

8. Instead of wasting money on mass mailing brochures asking wolves to become vegetarians, just spend these funds on lowering prices of your products.

Disclaimer. Last month I paid $20 USD for a shareware program that I use for podcast recording. One of the announced features did not work. I sent an email to the vendor ‘s tech support, but they never got back to me. Oh well, you get what you paid for.


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