Thursday, March 26, 2009

MacHeist and the Market as a Whole

Lukas Mathis:

Rather than arguing about whether MacHeist is good for the participating developers, or whether it’s good for the MacHeist customers, or whether it’s a nice experience, or whether the participating developers are getting great marketing, I would be interested in knowing how it affects the Mac shareware market as a whole.

What influence does Espresso being in the bundle have on Coda? Does the fact that a hundred thousand people will effectively get a free copy of Espresso hurt Coda? Does it negatively impact the amount of money people are willing to pay for an app like Coda or Espresso or BBEdit or TextMate?

It’s not an easy question to answer, but I think it’s what matters in the end. MacHeist could either be growing the market for Mac software or creating a tragedy of the commons.

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You know, few of the blogs discussing this have comments, and that has some side effects---1) there's not many places for individual buyers to actually give their answers to these questions; 2) following the discussion as a whole becomes very happenstance---I've read 5-6 posts on it recently, but without trackbacks/comments, there's no reliable index of the discussion.

Anyhow, anecdotal evidence from a habitual bundle buyer: bundles rarely replace purchases I would have made at the time. I tend to use bundle programs as demos, because I'm not good at actually putting software through its paces within a limited demo. But the last two times I specifically said, okay I'm going to try out a lot of this bundle software for Task X, I wound up sticking with the apps I already had, so that didn't affect the market at all.

Bundles can affect my future purchases---I'm more likely to try to make a product I own work, than go buy another one. On the other hand, I believe in the right tool for the right job (and that's one of the reasons why I like to accumulate software) so it's never crossed my mind that a program isn't *worth* full price because I got other programs cheap. I believe I went out and paid full price for Wallet even though I already had 1Password via a bundle, because Wallet did what I needed.

I don't feel entitled to free-upgrades-for-life via a bundle license even if that's the regular license (though I'd be furious if bundle licenses meant a lower level of support than regular purchases).

I will admit that the other day I was hoping Acorn would show up in a bundle, but: I already own Photoshop and Graphic Converter (plus got Pixelmator and LightZone through bundles), and I have no real need for a photo-editing program anyhow, because I rarely even use the tools in iPhoto.

[...] up, via MacUpdate and the new TheMacBundles. During the March 2009 MacHeist, Lukas Mathis and Michael Tsai wondered how the bundle paradigm affects the overall market for indie Mac software.  I’m [...]

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