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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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1 person has left a comment

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

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