I was recently talking to a friend of mine and we were discussing the shareware and commercial software structures. And the more we talked the better I felt about shareware.
Shareware is the concept in which someone is able to take the software, install it and try it out for x amount of time, if they like it; they buy it, but with the strict commercial model, you can’t do this.
There’s absolutely no reason to buy software in a store. Yeah, so they stock it, but once you buy it; you can’t take it back- it’s yours. If you try to take it back all they want to do is label you as a criminal, charge a restocking fee or have you exchange the software for the same thing [which is absolutely no help]. They don’t care if the system resources are wrong, the video card you have is too old or if it doesn’t support a 64 bit Operating System- they just don’t care; it’s staying with you.
The point is; buying software should be the model of shareware. You should be able to download, install and try everything before you commit to it. Games and productivity packages are extremely hard to buy for. Who wants to buy a $50 game just to find out you don’t like it or buy a $400 office package just to find out it doesn’t create PDF’s. It’s silly- I know. Having said this, who would buy a new car without sitting in it, driving it or hearing it run? Nobody.
With the common brick and mortar stores, the items have to be burned to a disc [materials], packaged, shipped and stocked on a shelf [paying for space], but if you simply allow those customers to download the software and install it try it and then require registration to continue, the customer can make a better decision. In this model, there is no packaging, no shipping, no manuals to print and should result in a greater profit margin. Of course this is my opinion, but I think most would agree with me.
On the flip side, more software providers should be rewarding those online customers with discounted sales. I mean after all, those customers are actually saving them lots of money. With all those things that the software provider no longer has to do there should be at least a 20% discount because now the customer has undertaken the distribution, burning a disc and negating the requirement to print a user manual.
It’s almost like the people that work with technology don’t understand it.
Now the gaming companies [most of them] seemed to have embraced this model. They entice the customers with versions of their software that allows them to play one level or round and/or play online in one specific map. It’s the same way drug dealers do it and it seems to work very well [not endorsed].
So while having this discussion with my friend, I find that if can see it in the store, I most likely can find it online. I see no need to bother with Best Buy, Fry’s or various other vendors [ excluding Target]. I have a high-speed connection to the Internet and I can most likely download the software faster than I could go get it.
I wish the software market would simply adopt a ISO distribution and then pass the savings on to the customers and this way everyone wins.
While this post is really observation and opinion, I think it shows that this is really the better way to distribute software to the masses in a way everyone is happy.
Now- if you can find free software, use it.