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MacHeist Kvetching 2009…

So Marco wrote this post kvetch­ing MacHeist (yeah, that’s my bun­dle ID link) and how hor­ri­ble it is for soft­ware devel­op­ers. You know, for devel­op­ers, some of his argu­ments might be true. In fact, depend­ing on the cir­cum­stances, I can see how it might not be in a developer’s best inter­est to par­tic­i­pate. But I take excep­tion at this:

Call it what it is: You’re will­ingly accept­ing a license that will result in the devel­oper earn­ing almost no money.

There­fore, you’re not really sup­port­ing these devel­op­ers: you’re telling them that you don’t value their work enough to pay full price, but you’re going to use their soft­ware anyway.

Their com­pli­ance with the MacHeist deal is irrelevant.

Most soft­ware is an incred­i­bly good deal, espe­cially the appli­ca­tions that you use every day or as part of your busi­ness. For exam­ple, given that I make all of my liv­ing by using Text­Mate, and it was devel­oped entirely by Allan Odgaard over (prob­a­bly) thou­sands of hours, it would be ridicu­lous for me to hag­gle its €39 price. Why seek dis­counts on some­thing that you want to sup­port and that you believe is already a great value?

I refuse to pur­chase MacHeist for the same rea­son I respect­fully decline license dis­counts or App Store free­bie coupon-codes from other devel­op­ers (that I occa­sion­ally receive because of my roles in Tum­blr and Instapaper):

I believe in sup­port­ing soft­ware devel­op­ers by pay­ing full price for their applications.

MacHeist sup­ports MacHeist’s staff extremely well, but it’s not a way to sup­port its appli­ca­tions’ developers.

I buy a LOT of Mac soft­ware. A met­ric shit­load. Almost always at full price. Peo­ple assume that because I write for TUAW, I’m get­ting tons of stuff for free. That’s just not true. We go out of our way not to accept full licenses of stuff unless we can either give it away after­wards or it is a NFR and we need it to test all the fea­tures. Almost every­thing we review (for OS X apps any­way, it’s more com­pli­cated with iPhone apps since there are now promo codes), we buy.

So as some­one who buys lots and lots of soft­ware, I don’t really appre­ci­ate the guilt-trip that because a devel­oper or soft­ware com­pany decides to take part in a bun­dle, me buy­ing that bun­dle some­how means I don’t sup­port developers.

I won’t lie; there are plenty of apps that I get with bun­dles that I either never use, ever, or won’t pay to upgrade to the next ver­sion. But there are plenty I’ll pay for — even if they don’t offer upgrade pric­ing. 1Password, for instance, which I got from MacHeist or MacUp­date last year, will totally get the entire amount of money from me when­ever the time comes. It’s just too valu­able to me. The same goes for CSSEdit, Rapid­Weaver, and any other num­ber of apps I find myself using day in and day out.

At this point, espe­cially with MacHeist, devel­op­ers know what they are get­ting into. If they choose to offer a prod­uct through MH, they have their rea­sons. If Real­mac, a com­pany and a com­mu­nity I have lots of respect for (and Nik Fletcher is like my brother, seri­ously), don’t want my busi­ness if I hap­pen to get some­thing of theirs through a bun­dle, I trust they won’t offer it in a bun­dle to begin with.

Panic, who makes some of my favorite Mac soft­ware, doesn’t do bun­dles. I did, how­ever, save $10 when I bought Coda because I also bought Trans­mit. I saved 10% on Text­Mate because I bought it as a stu­dent. Should I not have taken advan­tage of those dis­counts? Does that make me uneth­i­cal or unsup­port­ive of soft­ware devel­op­ers? Of course not!

So why does buy­ing some­thing in a bun­dle make me a bad per­son? I respect Macro’s unyield­ing sup­port for devel­op­ers, but I pre­fer to live in a world where I’m less pious and don’t have to walk around with a stick up my ass.


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March 2009
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Rob - Gravatar

Rob said:

I agree with you. If the devel­op­ers aren’t happy with their deal, then they shouldn’t have agreed to par­tic­i­pate in the bun­dles. I don’t feel guilty when I go to Best Buy, and that copy of Fer­ris Beuller’s Day Off I’ve been want­ing has been dis­counted down to $4.99. Do I buy it? Hell yes I do. Do I feel guilty that Best Buy isn’t get­ting their “full cut?” No f’ing way.

There are apps on my com­puter that make me think, “Wow, this app was com­pletely under­priced.” There are apps on my com­puter that make me think, “Crap, I paid too much for that.” And then there are apps (Can­dy­bar, I’m look­ing at you, here…) that make me think, “There’s no way I’m pay­ing THAT much just to have THAT function.”

I find myself skip­ping over more and more pur­chases, and con­se­quently, pass­ing on appli­ca­tions because I feel they’re over­priced. Devel­op­ers need to decide which busi­ness model works best for them… Lots of sales at a poten­tially lower price, or fewer sales at a higher price. If Wid­get A is sold at $100 a unit and only sells 4 units, and Wid­get B is sold at $25 and sells 100 units, does Wid­get B’s sup­port costs/needs increase by 25 times? Hardly.

Which leads me to the ques­tion: As a devel­oper, is it bet­ter to have SOMETHING or NOTHING? Some argue that all the devel­op­ers get out of the bun­dle deals is a shit­load more users to sup­port for not much money. I’d argue that they get much more than that… They get an enhanced user base. With that enhanced user base, they get more poten­tial cus­tomers for any other app they hap­pen to develop and sell at full price. As for the increased sup­port load, does Marco really think that the full-price-paying users don’t have the same sup­port needs as the discounted-price folks? I’d wager that for every bug a discount-user expe­ri­ences, a full-price user SOMEWHERE is hav­ing the same issue. So, you’re going to have to sup­port the app any­way.… might as well be expos­ing as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble to your apps.

Sorry to rant so much, but I’ve always despised Marco’s posi­tion on this matter.


  • Rob
Posted on: August 22, 2009 at 4:14 pmQuote this Comment