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The Mac Bundles - Thoughts?

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blue_fireball_eater

blue_fireball_eater

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from Chicago
2,797 posts

My first thought of the MUPromo Spring Bundle was: This could not have come at a worse time. A month sooner or a month later would have really made the difference for me. I will still be buying it, but I am keeping less than half of the apps for myself.

As for this bundle, don't even get me started on the timing. A quick glance at the webpage and I was gone.

avatar is from Penfield & Jasper, 1954

June 1, 2009 6:59 pm
andys53

andys53

Sky Pirate

from a frog flu resistant land.
1,904 posts

Less than nothing that would cause me to give away my stepdaughters' inheritance.

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June 1, 2009 7:04 pm
Bob Nahasapeemapetilon

Bob Nahasapeemapetilon

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1,889 posts

mil wrote:

I'm suffering from bundle fatigue for quite sometime now. The only one that might've interested me would've been Default Folder X, but I bought it in a MacZot sale sometime ago. The DFX dev is not very responsive though.

That's odd. I've used Default Folder since the pre-OS X days and found the developer to be very responsive.
With version 4 I asked him if he could change the interface a bit since I hate the Darth Vader look, he replied quickly and a couple of weeks later the Gray Sidebar option was added.

Regarding the bundle itself, it is GREAT software for the most part.
In terms of both quality and support, I highly recommend the following:
Default Folder X
DragThing
GraphicConverter
HoudahSpot
Spell Catcher X

I don't have experience with the other titles. The only one that interests me is GraphicConverter since my copy is for the previous version. I don't use DragThing these days since it overlapped with other apps I use now, but it offers a lot of options that may not be immediately evident. For example, I used a dock to trigger frequently used text via Hot Keys.
I use the others that I mentioned on a daily basis. In terms of quality, these are the types of apps that I love to see in a bundle. In fact, I got Default Folder as part of the Reaction Bundle many years ago.

I'll pass since I have most of the apps, and even though I dislike Steve Becker as a developer I do recommend that people try the bundle.

Look Ma, no teeth!

June 1, 2009 9:53 pm
estemuchacho2

estemuchacho2

Automaton Tech

from Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico
374 posts

ayodh14 wrote:

The only thing I would like from the bundle is DragThing. Rest everything, already have substitutes for.

+1

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June 2, 2009 1:32 am
mrkowalski

mrkowalski

Automaton Tech

from Purple Pineapple Province
301 posts

I bought the MU bundle yesterday.  It gives me TechTool, Notebook, and upgrades my Parallels install (I figured a little patience would yield an upgrade somewhere).  I was just considering a purchase of Ripit, and unfortunately already upgraded my copy of DVDRemaster, so my daughter will be happy to get a free copy.  I already own BetterZip (thanks to discussions here on MacHeist).
I am interested in playing with the others, but I feel like I got my moneys worth with just two or three apps.  That is the great thing about these bundles.  I get what I want, and perhaps find some gems I was not aware of.

I just took a look at the new TheMacBundles.  Not a bad first start, but this one is not of interest to me.  I already have the best of the apps.

Systems: 17in MacBookPro 2011, 2.2Ghz quad core i7, 8GB DRAM, 750GB HDD Mountain Lion;
PowerMac G5 Dual 2.3Ghz, 7GB Memory, 1.5T HDD, Leopard, 23inch Cinema Dispay

June 2, 2009 4:32 am
pangis

pangis

Automaton Tech

135 posts

The website (and the Shopping Cart) both read as though the bonus app is still available.  This means either: 1) they still have yet to reach 2,000 sales after over 48 hours,; or 2) the 2,000 figure was a BS figure and they are giving out the bonus app for many more bundle purchases.

If true, the first possibility is sad and a little unfortunate as bundles are a great idea and the more options consumers have to purchase them the better.  I would hate for there not to be a second bundle offered through this site, despite the history anyone has had with the operator.  It is also unfortunate that there are some solid apps in there who may be somewhat less willing to participate in future bundles as a result.

If the latter possibility holds true, and they are giving away the bonus app well beyond the first 2,000 but not moving the number on their site (or offering a sale counter in order to boost sales) then that is even sadder and diminishes the goodwill of a new company.  I hope there is a third possibility which I haven't considered.

June 2, 2009 3:50 pm
Bob Nahasapeemapetilon

Bob Nahasapeemapetilon

Sky Pirate

1,889 posts

estemuchacho2 wrote:
ayodh14 wrote:

The only thing I would like from the bundle is DragThing. Rest everything, already have substitutes for.

+1

Just curious, what are the "substitutes" you're using for Spell Catcher X and Default Folder X?

Look Ma, no teeth!

June 2, 2009 8:12 pm
Scandalous

Scandalous

Sky Pirate

1,528 posts

Bob Nahasapeemapetilon wrote:
estemuchacho2 wrote:
ayodh14 wrote:

The only thing I would like from the bundle is DragThing. Rest everything, already have substitutes for.

+1

Just curious, what are the "substitutes" you're using for Spell Catcher X and Default Folder X?

+1. Yes. Please tell us.

Click DropBox to sync files online & across your computers for FREE + receive an additional 250 MB.

June 2, 2009 9:16 pm
Chriswan

Chriswan

Sky Pirate

from Jakarta, Indonesia
1,194 posts

You might want to check what the developer of DragThing thinks about the (the first?) bundle he participating in

http://www.dragthing.com/english/whatsnew.html

And the developer of Default Folder X (One of the best app I've ever use, he is not as 'anti bundle' as his fellow developer above, since he already participated in several 'big time' bundles and promos)

http://stclairsoft.com/blog/

Thanks a Lot

June 3, 2009 12:59 am
johnred

johnred

Directorate

1,869 posts

Chriswan wrote:

You might want to check what the developer of DragThing thinks about the (the first?) bundle he participating in

http://www.dragthing.com/english/whatsnew.html

And the developer of Default Folder X (One of the best app I've ever use, he is not as 'anti bundle' as his fellow developer above, since he already participated in several 'big time' bundles and promos)

http://stclairsoft.com/blog/

I still have to take serious issue with outright false statements like:

"Instead of most of the profits going to a third-party company with a background in marketing..."

"...instead of getting way less than a dollar per copy, or - even worse - only getting a flat fee regardless of the number of copies sold..."

"So if it sells, say, a couple of thousand copies in total, that's a much better return than we might see from many tens of thousands of sales of some other bundles."

"Those people usually reap the bulk of the profits from the sale, passing only a small percentage of the sale price on to the developers of the software."

Overwhelmingly, the profits go to charity. The developers got the bulk of the earnings. We paid our staff. And the principals earned a fair amount, considering the effort we put into things.

So if Mr. DragThing and Sir Default Folder choose this "fair" bundle over ours or MUPromo, that's totally their right. They simply shouldn't go around spreading complete and utter bullshit, though.

All of our "slick, fancy, Madison Ave. marketing" does, indeed count for something... this new bundle still has the bonus app offer for when 2,000 bundles are sold, and I suspect that this offer will last the duration of the bundle. So I've heard that the devs are getting like $5 per bundle sold or something. Assume that they'll sell around 1,000 bundles or so (I'm basing this estimate on what I heard the last MacBundleBox sold at like 800 or something) and that means that each dev will make around $5,000 from this promo.

Compare that with MacHeist 3, where each dev, at minimum, made what most people would consider a really good year's salary for two weeks of a bit of an extra support load. And that's saying a lot in this crappy economy.

If devs want the "FAIREST BUNDLE EVAR" then they can just continue selling a "bundle of 1" at 100% price.

Adapt or die...

John Casasanta
MacHeist Director
tap tap tap chief

June 3, 2009 2:13 am
blue_fireball_eater

blue_fireball_eater

Moderator

from Chicago
2,797 posts

"Fair" bundle = maximum profit per license with no standout apps and no contributions to unfair organizations like charities. Also, no marketing skills involved, plus a website that looks more like a phishing scam than a modern business. Great example to be setting if I may say so myself.

avatar is from Penfield & Jasper, 1954

June 3, 2009 3:13 am
danco

danco

Automaton Tech

from London, England
282 posts

blue_fireball_eater wrote:

"Fair" bundle = maximum profit per license with no standout apps

In fact there are two or three standout apps. The only problem is that experienced Mac users are likely to have them.

I can't imagine anyone who's used a Mac for some time and is interested in getting shareware NOT having Default Folder and Graphic Converter. They are both essential items. And DragThing is my preferred substitute for the Dock. HoduahSpot is quite useful too.

Price is reasonable. I won't respond to the rest of the comment, which I don't object to.

Daniel

June 3, 2009 6:14 am
rampancy

rampancy

Moderator

from Denial.
3,890 posts

johnred wrote:

And don't even get me started on the "filler" thing they they talk about.

Then by all means, please allow me...

Chriswan wrote:

Also no filler? A half-assed like iPrint is not a filler?

This is my point: the term "filler" is at best highly subjective, and at worst, condescending and arrogant. During MacHeist 2, some people panned apps like TaskPaper and CoverSutra as "filler" yet TaskPaper is probably one of the best apps of its class by one of the best indie devs on the Mac, and CoverSutra's the first iTunes controller to truly satisfy me since the "dead, dead, dead" X-Tunes seemingly vanished off the face of the earth back in 2003. Anyway, my point is that when you start casting the term "filler" about, you easily lose out on some truly good and useful pieces of software, especially smaller apps like ShoveBox.

It can also be condescending in that by saying your bundle has "no filler", you're effectively telling developers that you don't want their cheap, second-rate apps, no matter how good they might be, because they don't fit your pre-determined standard of what "filler" and "non-filler" is...who cares if the app is well-designed and actively developed? Your bundle is clearly too good for them, because it's either too small or too limited in scope to be "non-filler". Is that really the message you want to send when you launch a "developer-friendly" bundle?

dsw1958 wrote:

I just ran across this little article on the "Fair to all" new software bundle (TheMacBundles)

http://www.itwire.com/content/view/25259/1151/

Yes, I've read that, and like many things on iTWire, it's a second-rate piece of reporting by a technology hack. Developer-Direct Bundles weren't invented by Steve Becker - MacSanta (headed by Rogue Ameoba) did it before, and did it better; GiveGoodFoodToYourMac was headed up by Aquafadas and RealMac Software, and also had a much better bundle.

Oh yeah, and he twice alludes to bundle apps not being upgradable or only having limited licenses. Apparently he didn't even bother to research the difference between loot and bundle apps, and then he bought into the "Phill and John steal from developers" FUD we're all tired of. What a joke. With his ability to write about something he knows precious little about, this guy should be writing about politics, not technology.

While the first deal won't be announced until early next week, the idea is to offer 'all killer, no filler' bundles of top-class software.

The only bundle which could arguably be an "all killer, no filler bundle of top-class software" would be CS4, Office 2008, the Mac Box Set, and VMWare Fusion with Windows Vista Ultimate, with Red Alert 3 and COD4 as bonus apps.

Marathon Forever.
AppShelf: MacHeist 3 Loot
AppShelf: nanoBundle 1
Check Reciept Page for nanoBundle 2 AppShelf Files.

June 3, 2009 6:43 am
andys53

andys53

Sky Pirate

from a frog flu resistant land.
1,904 posts

rampancy wrote:
johnred wrote:

And don't even get me started on the "filler" thing they they talk about.

Then by all means, please allow me...


The only bundle which could arguably be an "all killer, no filler bundle of top-class software" would be CS4, Office 2008, the Mac Box Set, and VMWare Fusion with Windows Vista Ultimate, with Red Alert 3 and COD4 as bonus apps.

Or maybe Windows 7 as Vista was/is horrible?

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June 3, 2009 7:17 am
James Thomson

James Thomson

Developer

from Glasgow, Scotland
9 posts

That's very interesting John. I'll give you two concrete examples:

I was offered a fixed fee of $1200 (later increased to $2000) by Stephen Christopher in February to include PCalc as a bonus app in MacHeist 3. You will probably argue that it wasn't intended as a "full" member of the bundle, but from my perspective, you wanted to give away an unlimited number of copies of my application for a fixed fee. Calling it a "marketing opportunity" doesn't change the fact that you are paying a tiny amount to a developer to boost the popularity of your bundle significantly. That is exactly the kind of behaviour that I objected to in my post, and was what drove me to participate in this bundle as they seemed to be genuinely trying to do something different.

Phill Ryu offered me $2 per copy for DragThing last year for MacHeist 2 in February 2008, again as a bonus app, which I did decline. You didn't ask me about including DragThing this year, so I don't know exactly how much you were planning to offer this time around. But you say I chose not to participate this year which is - in your own words - "an outright lie", as I was never asked anything about including DragThing in MacHeist 3.

I have been offered similarly low - and lower - amounts from other bundles to take part. Did any of the participants in MacHeist 3 get around $5 per copy sold as every single developer is from this bundle? Are all the participants getting the same amount? That, in my book, is a pretty good definition of fair.

You say "adapt or die" in your post. That is exactly my fear. If developers - and by that I mean ALL developers - can't sell their software at a fair price that will support them in the long term, then they *will* start to die out. If eight or ten developers made a decent wage out of Mac Heist 3 - and I take your word for that - and, let's say, another eight or ten do the same from MacUpdate, then what happens to the other thousands of developers out there who are trying to sell their software, but nobody is buying it because they are waiting to see if it turns up in another bundle?

I don't think this bundle is perfect either, not by a long shot, but I believe it comes from a goal to support developers first and that's why I took part.

I can only speak for the experiences I have had.

June 3, 2009 8:29 am
Bob Nahasapeemapetilon

Bob Nahasapeemapetilon

Sky Pirate

1,889 posts

Chriswan wrote:

You might want to check what the developer of DragThing thinks about the (the first?) bundle he participating in

http://www.dragthing.com/english/whatsnew.html

And the developer of Default Folder X (One of the best app I've ever use, he is not as 'anti bundle' as his fellow developer above, since he already participated in several 'big time' bundles and promos)

http://stclairsoft.com/blog/

Thanks for the links. Both developers are great. I wish them the best of luck.

rampancy wrote:

It can also be condescending in that by saying your bundle has "no filler", you're effectively telling developers that you don't want their cheap, second-rate apps, no matter how good they might be, because they don't fit your pre-determined standard of what "filler" and "non-filler" is...

Overall I think that the majority of the bundled apps are of great quality. I have not tried Cover Stream and refuse to buy a MacEase product, but the rest are great. I can't say the same of other bundles. My favorite approach is still the one used by GiveGoodFood2YourMac.

It's great to see this new bundle by high quality developers. It brings back memories of the Reaction Bundle, in which Default Folder was also included. Great developers.
http://www.macobserver.com/news/00/febr … nded.shtml

Look Ma, no teeth!

June 3, 2009 8:41 am
James Thomson

James Thomson

Developer

from Glasgow, Scotland
9 posts

Thanks Bob, that's nice to hear. I think it's pretty obvious that Stephen is just starting out with this bundle, but hopefully it will improve over time and catch on. I don't think it's particularly pleasant to attack him personally for trying to do something different.

June 3, 2009 8:58 am
johnred

johnred

Directorate

1,869 posts

James sent me this exact reply as an email and I was replying to it but decided to check this thread again right before pressing the Send button. So since he wants to make this all public, I figure that I'll paste my response to him here, completely unedited...

James Thomson wrote:

That's very interesting John. I'll give you two concrete examples:
I was offered a fixed fee of $1200 (later increased to $2000) by Stephen Christopher in February to include PCalc as a bonus app in MacHeist 3. You will probably argue that it wasn't intended as a "full" member of the bundle, but from my perspective, you wanted to give away an unlimited number of copies of my application for a fixed fee. Calling it a "marketing opportunity" doesn't change the fact that you are paying a tiny amount to a developer to boost the popularity of your bundle significantly. That is exactly the kind of behaviour that I objected to in my post, and was what drove me to participate in this bundle as they seemed to be genuinely trying to do something different.

Exactly... loot apps (which is what you were offered the first time) make somewhere in that range. They serve as promotional vehicles and many developers have been able to have loot app participation be very profitable for them. It's way beyond the scope of this conversation to go into the details of all this but I'll accommodate you if it's something you'd like to hear more on (I'm assuming that both Phill and Stephen had gone over many of these details when they contacted you in the past).

James Thomson wrote:

Phill Ryu offered me $2 per copy for DragThing last year for MacHeist 2 in February 2008, again as a bonus app, which I did decline. You didn't ask me about including DragThing this year, so I don't know exactly how much you were planning to offer this time around. But you say I chose not to participate this year which is - in your own words - "an outright lie", as I was never asked anything about including DragThing in MacHeist 3.

It sounds like wires were crossed then as DragThing was most definitely on our list of potentials this year (again, because I've been using it for years myself). We have DragThing in the rejection pile with a percentage offer that would've put you at around $1 per copy. Yup, much less than the $2 that you were offered as a bonus app, but with the target numbers we were expecting for MacHeist 3, that would've netted you a VERY healthy sum.

I think what developers like you fail to recognize is that this isn't at all about gaining 88,000 users (approximately what we did for MacHeist 3), but it's about the volume. A fraction of the purchasers will actually use your app. And many of the ones who do use it will use it casually and would've never been your customer any other way. It's purely about volume.

How long does it take you to make $88,000 the "hard way"? I have more than an idea because I'm the developer of iClip, an app that at it's prime was about as popular as DragThing.

James Thomson wrote:

I have been offered similarly low - and lower - amounts from other bundles to take part. Did any of the participants in MacHeist 3 get around $5 per copy sold as every single developer is from this bundle? Are all the participants getting the same amount? That, in my book, is a pretty good definition of fair.

$5 per copy... hell no! $15*5 = $75 and I'm not sure what planet you'd have to live on to actually turn a profit on a $39 bundle with those cuts. Especially when 25% of sales is raised for charity.

But again... you'll be lucky to make $5k off this bundle, versus the approx $88k which you would've netted in MacHeist this year. Think about that for a second.

Are all the participants getting the same amount? Also hell no! The different apps in our bundles have been worth different values, both in terms of retail price and popularity. So the ones that bring in more sales make more money... THAT to me is the definition of fair here.

Let me ask you this... if the guy who developed iPrint, a virtually unknown app, wasn't the person who put together this bundle, would you honestly think that he deserved the same exact cut as you're getting for your app, which is relatively popular and costs TWICE as much? I'd hate to question your business sense, but if you answer "yes", I'd have to here.

James Thomson wrote:

You say "adapt or die" in your post. That is exactly my fear. If developers - and by that I mean ALL developers - can't sell their software at a fair price that will support them in the long term, then they *will* start to die out. If eight or ten developers made a decent wage out of Mac Heist 3 - and I take your word for that - and, let's say, another eight or ten do the same from MacUpdate, then what happens to the other thousands of developers out there who are trying to sell their software, but nobody is buying it because they are waiting to see if it turns up in another bundle?

I seriously don't see this being the case. Admittedly, my sales for iClip have slowed a bit, but mainly because I don't promote it anywhere near what I used to since starting MacHeist. If I kept up on development and promotion as I used to, I'm confident that it would've continue to grow significantly. But I've chosen to invest my time and energy in MacHeist and my iPhone company, tap tap tap these days.

The bottom line with software is that people *will* buy it if and when they need it. This is assuming that the software is high quality and does something that people actually want and/or need. These are the apps that we spotlight in our bundles.

James Thomson wrote:

I don't think this bundle is perfect either, not by a long shot, but I believe it comes from a goal to support developers first and that's why I took part.

Isn't this completely contradictory to what you just said in the above paragraph? It's yet another bundle with just 9 apps.

And again, that's your choice to do so.

I have different goals than you... mine are to support our customers... charity... developers... and ourselves. Not all equally, but all very fairly. The reality of the so-called "developer-friendly promotion" is that it's doomed to failure. Look at MacSanta for an easy example. The similarity between MacSanta and TheMacBundles, though, is that they both have tried to scapegoat and shit on MacHeist as just about the only way of promoting each of them. Karma.

James Thomson wrote:

I can only speak for the experiences I have had.

Same. And they've mostly been very positive. The customers, charities, and developers mentioned above have been extremely happy with everything they've gotten from MacHeist over the years. And I find that very satisfying. And yes, very profitable. But again, very deservedly so, IMO, as we work our asses off... much more than I ever have as a software developer.

It pisses me off when our ethics are questioned, especially when we work very hard to be extremely fair to everyone involved. Especially so when false and misleading statements are made.

John Casasanta
MacHeist Director
tap tap tap chief

June 3, 2009 9:51 am
johnred

johnred

Directorate

1,869 posts

James Thomson wrote:

Thanks Bob, that's nice to hear. I think it's pretty obvious that Stephen is just starting out with this bundle, but hopefully it will improve over time and catch on. I don't think it's particularly pleasant to attack him personally for trying to do something different.

I don't see anyone attacking him personally here. Especially not me.

What I do see (in myself, especially) is people taking offense to the implication that MacHeist, MUPromo, etc aren't fair to developers. This is stated by him and reiterated your blog post. And it's unsubstantiated.

I have zero issue with the bundle, or any other competing bundle existing. I have infinite issue with false statements about us being used as the only way to promote the bundle.

John Casasanta
MacHeist Director
tap tap tap chief

June 3, 2009 9:57 am
James Thomson

James Thomson

Developer

from Glasgow, Scotland
9 posts

johnred wrote:

It sounds like wires were crossed then as DragThing was most definitely on our list of potentials this year (again, because I've been using it for years myself). We have DragThing in the rejection pile with a percentage offer that would've put you at around $1 per copy.

Certainly, no offer like that was ever made to me, but let's assume for sake of argument that wires were indeed crossed.

johnred wrote:

How long does it take you to make $88,000 the "hard way"? I have more than an idea because I'm the developer of iClip, an app that at it's prime was about as popular as DragThing.

Of course it would be nice to get $88k over a couple of weeks, I can't deny that. But that's not exactly regular income is it? Isn't it better to make that over the course of a year the hard way - and the year after that, and the year after that? That's what I've done with DragThing for the last twelve years it's been on sale. A good product, sold for a fair and sustainable price, and it's kept me in business.

johnred wrote:

Let me ask you this... if the guy who developed iPrint, a virtually unknown app, wasn't the person who put together this bundle, would you honestly think that he deserved the same exact cut as you're getting for your app, which is relatively popular and costs TWICE as much? I'd hate to question your business sense, but if you answer "yes", I'd have to here.

Please feel free to question it. Because in the end this isn't all about business. I've made lots of decisions over the years to do what I personally consider the right thing, not necessarily the thing that will make me the most money. And yes, I know you give a large cut to charity, which is laudable. But should I question your business sense for doing that too?

johnred wrote:

Isn't this completely contradictory to what you just said in the above paragraph? It's yet another bundle with just 9 apps.

The point of this approach was to try and shift the balance back slightly towards the developers. I'm not saying this bundle is the perfect way to do that - I was still quite hesitant at taking part for exactly those reasons. But Steve was trying to do something different, and I wanted to support him. Maybe that makes me part of the problem too, I don't know. But at least we're having a discussion about it.

johnred wrote:

II have different goals than you... mine are to support our customers... charity... developers... and ourselves. Not all equally, but all very fairly. The reality of the so-called "developer-friendly promotion" is that it's doomed to failure. Look at MacSanta for an easy example. The similarity between MacSanta and TheMacBundles, though, is that they both have tried to scapegoat and shit on MacHeist as just about the only way of promoting each of them. Karma.

I thought that MacSanta did what it did very well myself. It gave users a reasonable discount on the software they wanted to buy, and developers who took part got a commensurate increase in sales. What's the problem with that? It was a community effort to try and do something that benefitted both sides. I didn't get the impression they were attacking MacHeist at the time either.

johnred wrote:

It pisses me off when our ethics are questioned, especially when we work very hard to be extremely fair to everyone involved. Especially so when false and misleading statements are made.

I'm not questioning your ethics here. You have found a model that works well for you, and brings in a lot of income for you, the charities, and the specific developers involved. But equally, I don't think I said anything that wasn't true either. I don't personally think it's good for the developer community as a whole in the long run. I've heard from friends who know people who specifically said they weren't buying individual apps any more, they were just waiting to see if the app they wanted turned up in the next bundle.

I just can't see that being a positive trend for developers. And ultimately, what's bad for developers is bad for the users.

June 3, 2009 10:53 am
blue_fireball_eater

blue_fireball_eater

Moderator

from Chicago
2,797 posts

danco wrote:
blue_fireball_eater wrote:

"Fair" bundle = maximum profit per license with no standout apps

In fact there are two or three standout apps. The only problem is that experienced Mac users are likely to have them.

I can't imagine anyone who's used a Mac for some time and is interested in getting shareware NOT having Default Folder and Graphic Converter. They are both essential items. And DragThing is my preferred substitute for the Dock. HoduahSpot is quite useful too.

Perhaps I did not explain well, if you took it to mean that TheMacBundles.com was a "fair" bundle. I was actually referring to the article that mentions that each dev gets paid about $5 per license, regardless of what the program is. This is an admission that all apps are created equal whether a talented developer spent a decade improving it or an amateur developer shat it out in a couple of days (not referencing any particular apps here, just polarizing to show the results you get with this thinking). Therefore iPrint = DefaultFolder X, which is atrocious in my mind. I am not sure what more really needs to be said at this point, as it has been restated here as in the article.

James Thomson wrote:

Did any of the participants in MacHeist 3 get around $5 per copy sold as every single developer is from this bundle? Are all the participants getting the same amount? That, in my book, is a pretty good definition of fair.

johnred wrote:

Are all the participants getting the same amount? Also hell no! The different apps in our bundles have been worth different values, both in terms of retail price and popularity. So the ones that bring in more sales make more money... THAT to me is the definition of fair here.

Let me ask you this... if the guy who developed iPrint, a virtually unknown app, wasn't the person who put together this bundle, would you honestly think that he deserved the same exact cut as you're getting for your app, which is relatively popular and costs TWICE as much? I'd hate to question your business sense, but if you answer "yes", I'd have to here.

avatar is from Penfield & Jasper, 1954

June 3, 2009 11:01 am
blue_fireball_eater

blue_fireball_eater

Moderator

from Chicago
2,797 posts

James Thomson wrote:
johnred wrote:

How long does it take you to make $88,000 the "hard way"? I have more than an idea because I'm the developer of iClip, an app that at it's prime was about as popular as DragThing.

Of course it would be nice to get $88k over a couple of weeks, I can't deny that. But that's not exactly regular income is it? Isn't it better to make that over the course of a year the hard way - and the year after that, and the year after that? That's what I've done with DragThing for the last twelve years it's been on sale. A good product, sold for a fair and sustainable price, and it's kept me in business.

There are many people out there willing to take that $88,000 if you do not want it. Maybe you are not in the same recession as everyone else here. $88,000 in these times is a bailout!


James Thomson wrote:
johnred wrote:

Let me ask you this... if the guy who developed iPrint, a virtually unknown app, wasn't the person who put together this bundle, would you honestly think that he deserved the same exact cut as you're getting for your app, which is relatively popular and costs TWICE as much? I'd hate to question your business sense, but if you answer "yes", I'd have to here.

Please feel free to question it. Because in the end this isn't all about business. I've made lots of decisions over the years to do what I personally consider the right thing, not necessarily the thing that will make me the most money. And yes, I know you give a large cut to charity, which is laudable. But should I question your business sense for doing that too?

Please do question johnred's business sense. I am going to make some popcorn though so wait until I get back, thanks.

avatar is from Penfield & Jasper, 1954

June 3, 2009 11:10 am
mzch

mzch

Automaton Tech

from Hyogo, Japan
281 posts

Hi @james,

MacHeist offered you too cheap fee for your product, therefore you refused it. It's fair and resonable, I think.

However, I don't know why the fact lead to the conclusion that "ALL developers - can't sell their software at a fair price that will support them in the long term."

If all developers can't come to support their products enough because MacHeist presents the unfairly cheap price, I think that no developers will provide their main items to MacHeist. So, MacHeist won't be able to present any appealing softwares, accordingly consumers who want to buy their bundle will be reduced. But when it happens, that's not good for MacHeist themselves, not for the developers and, of course, not for you.

By any chance, Do you see it as a problem that consumers assumes to get any softwares through cheap bundles and not to buy any softwares in regular price? But if so, the sales way of 'bundle' iself is unfair to developers, that's not good reason that only MacHeist is accused. You should make an issue of the sales way of 'bundle' itself.

Frankly speaking, What are you fighting against?

Contact me? Please see http://mch.tel/
Free online storage? Minus 10GB+1GB, Dropbox 2GB+250MB

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June 3, 2009 11:12 am
James Thomson

James Thomson

Developer

from Glasgow, Scotland
9 posts

blue_fireball_eater wrote:

There are many people out there willing to take that $88,000 if you do not want it. Maybe you are not in the same recession as everyone else here. $88,000 in these times is a bailout!

Oh, believe me, we are very much in the same recession. Sales are certainly down over this time last year, and we're struggling like everybody else. But aside from the fact that I wasn't made the offer in the first place, I'm still of the opinion that this isn't good for developers like me in the long run. Should I just take the money anyway?

blue_fireball_eater wrote:

Please do question johnred's business sense. I am going to make some popcorn though so wait until I get back, thanks.

I think I actually acknowledged the fact that he's making a ton of money. Clearly he has great business sense. I just don't agree with the way he's doing it. But I'll happily have some popcorn anyway, it's nearly lunch time here...

June 3, 2009 11:19 am
James Thomson

James Thomson

Developer

from Glasgow, Scotland
9 posts

mzch wrote:

Frankly speaking, What are you fighting against?

That is a good question. I think developers should earn a sustainable income for their software, so they can continue to support it in the long term. I personally don't think MacHeist does that. I think the approach of TheMacBundles.com is a step better, which I why I supported them with this bundle, even though I've said I don't think it's perfect either. In an ideal world, people would just buy the software they wanted directly from the authors.

June 3, 2009 11:28 am
johnred

johnred

Directorate

1,869 posts

James Thomson wrote:

Of course it would be nice to get $88k over a couple of weeks, I can't deny that. But that's not exactly regular income is it? Isn't it better to make that over the course of a year the hard way - and the year after that, and the year after that? That's what I've done with DragThing for the last twelve years it's been on sale. A good product, sold for a fair and sustainable price, and it's kept me in business.

So how does inclusion in something like MacHeist, with all the publicity your app would get, go against that goal? Many of the devs involved don't even do it for the huge sum of cash they receive, but mainly for the publicity. Again, the fact that you've chosen to participate in this new bundle contradicts what you're saying here.

James Thomson wrote:
johnred wrote:

Let me ask you this... if the guy who developed iPrint, a virtually unknown app, wasn't the person who put together this bundle, would you honestly think that he deserved the same exact cut as you're getting for your app, which is relatively popular and costs TWICE as much? I'd hate to question your business sense, but if you answer "yes", I'd have to here.

Please feel free to question it. Because in the end this isn't all about business. I've made lots of decisions over the years to do what I personally consider the right thing, not necessarily the thing that will make me the most money. And yes, I know you give a large cut to charity, which is laudable. But should I question your business sense for doing that too?

Ok, ask and ye shall receive...

Let's go to extremes to make a point... say you developed a very popular, high quality app that sold for $100. And there was someone else's unknown, poor quality app that sold for $5. if you were presented with the offer to have your app be included in a bundle along with the other one and each would net $5, would you consider that fair? Would you accept the offer?

Again, the cuts in MacHeist are determined based on retail price and popularity and they're done as fairly as possible. And even the devs that make the smallest cuts in our bundles earn very substantial amounts, to say the least.

James Thomson wrote:

The point of this approach was to try and shift the balance back slightly towards the developers. I'm not saying this bundle is the perfect way to do that - I was still quite hesitant at taking part for exactly those reasons. But Steve was trying to do something different, and I wanted to support him. Maybe that makes me part of the problem too, I don't know. But at least we're having a discussion about it.

I think your issue with MacHeist is more of a perception problem. Simply take a look at all the top-notch devs who've taken part in MacHeist several times and maybe you'll have a change of perception. But if not, I'm not going to go too far out of my way to try and convince you... there are waaay too many great developers out there that are practically beating down our door to be included in one of our promotions. And for good reason... I'd be doing the same if I was back on the other side of the fence again.

James Thomson wrote:

I thought that MacSanta did what it did very well myself. It gave users a reasonable discount on the software they wanted to buy, and developers who took part got a commensurate increase in sales. What's the problem with that? It was a community effort to try and do something that benefitted both sides. I didn't get the impression they were attacking MacHeist at the time either.

From what I've heard from several developers, the sales from the promotion were abysmal.

And if you didn't get the attacking MacHeist part, you must've been under a rock in late 2006.

James Thomson wrote:

I'm not questioning your ethics here. You have found a model that works well for you, and brings in a lot of income for you, the charities, and the specific developers involved. But equally, I don't think I said anything that wasn't true either. I don't personally think it's good for the developer community as a whole in the long run. I've heard from friends who know people who specifically said they weren't buying individual apps any more, they were just waiting to see if the app they wanted turned up in the next bundle.

I just can't see that being a positive trend for developers. And ultimately, what's bad for developers is bad for the users.

I've heard from friends of friends of friends that say that they buy software daily.
/sarcasm

Have your sales declined since the inception of MacHeist? What you say in your first paragraph seems to state the contrary. So I still don't see how we're not "good for the developer community as a whole in the long run".

John Casasanta
MacHeist Director
tap tap tap chief

June 3, 2009 11:29 am
johnred

johnred

Directorate

1,869 posts

James Thomson wrote:

That is a good question. I think developers should earn a sustainable income for their software, so they can continue to support it in the long term. I personally don't think MacHeist does that. I think the approach of TheMacBundles.com is a step better, which I why I supported them with this bundle, even though I've said I don't think it's perfect either.

If you're permanently stuck on the idea that selling your software for as low as say, $1 per copy, in huge bulk, to many people who won't even ever download your app, then there's simply no way of convincing you here. But the fact that you'd be willing to go down to $5 per copy in small bulk makes me think that there may be hope.

Again, as I mentioned, I think there's some residual MacHeist perception problem on your end.

What I'd really like to know is how exactly does this other bundle help developers "earn a sustainable income for their software" versus MacHeist, etc? $88,000 and a shit-ton of publicity vs an estimated $5,000 and most of the "publicity" in this very thread.

John Casasanta
MacHeist Director
tap tap tap chief

June 3, 2009 11:41 am
James Thomson

James Thomson

Developer

from Glasgow, Scotland
9 posts

johnred wrote:

Again, the fact that you've chosen to participate in this new bundle contradicts what you're saying here.

I don't see that I'm contradicting myself. As I said, in an ideal world, people would just buy individual apps directly from authors. MacHeist has already changed things to some degree though. I can't blame the recent decline in sales entirely on MacHeist - the economy is far more likely to be responsible.

johnred wrote:

Let's go to extremes to make a point... say you developed a very popular, high quality app that sold for $100. And there was someone else's unknown, poor quality app that sold for $5. if you were presented with the offer to have your app be included in a bundle along with the other one and each would net $5, would you consider that fair? Would you accept the offer?

Sure, I see your point. But there wasn't a great deal of variation in price in this selection of apps, and DragThing was only slightly above the average. Maybe you should talk to the other authors and ask them why they accepted the deal - I can't speak for them.

johnred wrote:

I think your issue with MacHeist is more of a perception problem. Simply take a look at all the top-notch devs who've taken part in MacHeist several times and maybe you'll have a change of perception. But if not, I'm not going to go too far out of my way to try and convince you... there are waaay too many great developers out there that are practically beating down our door to be included in one of our promotions.

I don't think it's all perception, but yes, MacHeist did get a bad reputation amongst developers with the first heist in particular. And, if I can be honest, you can come across as a touch, shall we say, incendiary. I mean that with all respect smile

johnred wrote:

From what I've heard from several developers, the sales from the promotion were abysmal.

We did quite well from it, especially the first one. I can't remember exact numbers, but sales at least doubled for the period it was running. I would consider that a success myself.

johnred wrote:

Have your sales declined since the inception of MacHeist? What you say in your first paragraph seems to state the contrary. So I still don't see how we're not "good for the developer community as a whole in the long run".

Yes, they have somewhat. Is that due to MacHeist, the state of the economy, or not having released an update to DragThing for a while? I couldn't say for sure.

June 3, 2009 11:58 am
James Thomson

James Thomson

Developer

from Glasgow, Scotland
9 posts

johnred wrote:

If you're permanently stuck on the idea that selling your software for as low as say, $1 per copy, in huge bulk, to many people who won't even ever download your app, then there's simply no way of convincing you here. But the fact that you'd be willing to go down to $5 per copy in small bulk makes me think that there may be hope.

Hey, I'm certainly willing to experiment with different models, so long as everybody wins.

johnred wrote:

What I'd really like to know is how exactly does this other bundle help developers "earn a sustainable income for their software" versus MacHeist, etc? $88,000 and a shit-ton of publicity vs an estimated $5,000 and most of the "publicity" in this very thread.

Let's say that for sake of argument that TheMacBundles.com did similar numbers to MacHeist 3. In that case, the developers would have made $440,000 each, not $88,000. Wouldn't that have been a much better deal for them all? Of course, you guys spent a lot on marketing the bundle and it certainly shows. So let's say you spent $400,000 on the website and marketing side. That would still leave each developer making $400,000. That's still significantly better in my book. I know it's not that simple, but there is definitely room to compensate the developers more for their work.

June 3, 2009 12:17 pm
johnred

johnred

Directorate

1,869 posts

James Thomson wrote:

Sure, I see your point. But there wasn't a great deal of variation in price in this selection of apps, and DragThing was only slightly above the average. Maybe you should talk to the other authors and ask them why they accepted the deal - I can't speak for them.

James, your app costs TWICE as much as iPrint and is a zillion times more popular. Are you kidding?

James Thomson wrote:

I don't think it's all perception, but yes, MacHeist did get a bad reputation amongst developers with the first heist in particular. And, if I can be honest, you can come across as a touch, shall we say, incendiary. I mean that with all respect smile

If you're permanently stuck in 2006, then there's seriously no hope for you and I'm just not going to waste anymore time on this.

And as far as the "incendiary" thing goes, I think I'm being a helluva sweetie here.

James Thomson wrote:

We did quite well from it, especially the first one. I can't remember exact numbers, but sales at least doubled for the period it was running. I would consider that a success myself.

Ok, so if a typical Mac developer makes a few thousand dollars in a couple week span (which is approx how long I recall MacSanta running for) then you're implying that you made an extra few thousand dollars.

By comparison, a typical dev in MacHeist 3 made maybe 20-30x as much as they'd make in that time span. This is what I'm talking about by MacSanta sales being abysmal, considering that it was to be this big promotion to "help developers". You mentioned "sustainable sales" earlier but I'm not getting how something like MacSanta vs MacHeist would help you to achieve that goal.

James Thomson wrote:

Yes, they have somewhat. Is that due to MacHeist, the state of the economy, or not having released an update to DragThing for a while? I couldn't say for sure.

Well, since you've stated that your sales have been great year after year for several years and that they've taken a recent turn, I'd be willing to bet that it's the economy much more than anything else. If it had anything to do with MacHeist, you would've seen a noticable decline the past two years and you've clearly stated the opposite earlier.

John Casasanta
MacHeist Director
tap tap tap chief

June 3, 2009 12:22 pm
blue_fireball_eater

blue_fireball_eater

Moderator

from Chicago
2,797 posts

James Thomson wrote:

In an ideal world, people would just buy the software they wanted directly from the authors.

I think this is an acceptable model, but I have been introduced to so many new and useful applications through many different bundles that I would have never known about otherwise. These forums are one of the places to learn about new applications, but it is not exactly "normal" to search for obscure applications unless you have an urgent, pressing need. Most customers purchasing bundles do not have that urgent, pressing need (otherwise they would have already bought it) and might have never purchased those applications if they were not bundled. Furthermore, many of those bundle purchasers will never use that application. For example, I have an antivirus app from a bundle that I will not even install on my computer. If someone really needs an application, they will likely buy using the traditional means. Bundles are a way of expanding outside of your traditional customer base.

I do not present the bundle as the ultimate future of application distribution by any means. Look to the iTunes app store as another way of expanding your customer base. However, one thing that you will notice in common is that these novel methods sacrifice license fee for exposure and volume. The economic principles are simple, really.

Furthermore, is it really that much better for the consumer than the developer? Does the developer spend so much time on support that the income is not profitable? I am not a developer, so I would not know beyond the speculation that floats around the web. It seems like the surge of money could really help a developer to do what s/he does best: develop.

avatar is from Penfield & Jasper, 1954

June 3, 2009 12:22 pm
johnred

johnred

Directorate

1,869 posts

James Thomson wrote:

Let's say that for sake of argument that TheMacBundles.com did similar numbers to MacHeist 3. In that case, the developers would have made $440,000 each, not $88,000. Wouldn't that have been a much better deal for them all? Of course, you guys spent a lot on marketing the bundle and it certainly shows. So let's say you spent $400,000 on the website and marketing side. That would still leave each developer making $400,000. That's still significantly better in my book. I know it's not that simple, but there is definitely room to compensate the developers more for their work.

OH! NOW I GET IT!

You went under the delusion that this promotion had the potential to do 88,000 sales as opposed to the 1,000 or so that it'll realistically do SINCE IT'S NOT BEING PROMOTED AT ALL.

Goodnight, James.

John Casasanta
MacHeist Director
tap tap tap chief

June 3, 2009 12:28 pm
James Thomson

James Thomson

Developer

from Glasgow, Scotland
9 posts

Goodnight, John. Sweet dreams.

June 3, 2009 12:37 pm

pyrusmalus

Urchin

from Glasgow, Scotland
6 posts

James Thomson wrote:

I don't personally think it's good for the developer community as a whole in the long run. I've heard from friends who know people who specifically said they weren't buying individual apps any more, they were just waiting to see if the app they wanted turned up in the next bundle.

I just can't see that being a positive trend for developers. And ultimately, what's bad for developers is bad for the users.

I'm one of those friends that James mentioned above. We run a software and consultancy company, and we have a large number of clients within the creative industries and other sectors. One of the things that I have noticed, particularly since the introduction of MacHeist, is a shift in clients' attitudes towards purchasing software.

Before bundles became as popular as they are currently, I had no problem recommending software to clients. If I was doing web training, for example, I would recommend products such as TextMate, or CSSEdit, or Coda, depending on the organization's requirements and expertise. Almost without fail they would purchase the software - often on the spot. Their attitude then was that $20 / $30 / $40 / $50 / whatever was a reasonable price to pay for a Mac application. Based on my recommendation their decision to purchase was not difficult, and the cost was never an obstacle.

Since bundles, the attitude has been markedly different. I try to recommend software applications, yet the overwhelming response is "$20 for one app? I'll wait 'til it's in a bundle". This, to me, is a disappointing consequence of the popularity of bundles - it has conditioned too many people into believing that $20 - $50 is an unreasonable price to pay for a single application; that they ought to get at least ten apps for that.

I have largely given up recommending software applications to clients as a result - I know that they'll either wait until it is in a bundle, or they'll buy a bundle that happens to have something similar instead. I have tried to point out that they will be saving the cost of the application through increased productivity, but the bundle mentality prevents them from seeing that. They'll still buy multiple copies of Photoshop at full price because they know it isn't going to be featured in a bundle, but they'll balk at paying $20 for a single application.

MacHeist et al are undoubtedly successful, and I know from experience that marketing is as hard a job as software development, so I'm not knocking them for their success. What I am disappointed in is that their very success is having a polarizing effect on the purchasing habits of consumers. Coupled with the often ridiculously low prices for iPhone applications, it seems that consumers are being conditioned to believe that 99c for an iPhone application or $40 for ten Mac applications is the standard price to pay - not a special offer price. High-end applications, such as Photoshop, still command their high prices, yet it seems that consumers are rejecting the middle ground: that of the 'reasonably priced' Mac applications. In the short-term the consumers are obviously getting a bargain, and some participating developers are doing exceptionally well out of it, but I'm not so convinced that the long-term prognosis is so good. In the race to the bottom, no-one wins.

"Adapt or die.." - that is my fear too. If adaption means even more bundles, then this polarization towards bundles at one end, and high-end applications at the other, will have a detrimental impact on the entire Mac developer community, which will ultimately impact on the Mac consumer base. I'd rather not see developers 'die' because they didn't adapt to participating in bundles, or because they weren't deemed worthy of being invited into a bundle: I'd like to see more developers being able to have a sustainable business selling their software at reasonable prices. I'd also like to see marketing initiatives to show the consumers the wealth of Mac applications that are out there, rather than just focus on ten applications within any given bundle. That, to me, is a bigger challenge.

Do we want a Mac developer community where there are fewer developers around, and their success is largely predicated on being involved in bundles? Do we want the bundle-creators to be the arbiters and gate-keepers to their success?  Do we want a market where consumers balk at paying more than a couple of dollars for an application?

So while there is debate about the financials involved within each bundle, and whether it is fair or not to the individual developers involved, I believe that the wider debate ought to be whether the trend towards ever more bundles and the resulting reduction in the perceived value of software applications is something that is ultimately beneficial for both software developers and consumers. If it isn't then the question ought to be what can we do to create a wider, more sustainable developer community?

June 3, 2009 12:59 pm
tech

tech

Sky Pirate

from Rantoul, Illinois
1,516 posts

pyrusmalus,

As a customer yet one that tends to analyze this stuff and has been considering changing career paths to be a developer I have to wonder if you're overlooking the fact that a big obstacle for shareware type apps is marketing.  It sounds to me that in your position you've served as a bit of a marketing front end and are finding that your method is dying by the wayside. 

Note I'm not saying it's wrong as it really only applies to software that is likely to be in a bundle.  Note that johnred repeatedly spoke of popularity of apps.  There are new exciting apps released all of the time and not all of them make it into bundles.  If customers of yours are simply wanting to wait to see if they make it into a bundle I have to question whether they truly needed them in the first place.

With that said it seems the arguments come down to what's better for the developer when it comes down to the impulse buyer and not so much for the buyers who truly "need" the software in question.

Just my 2 cents.

<insert out-dated referral link here>

June 3, 2009 2:56 pm
stjg

stjg

Big Game Hunter

from Here
586 posts

@pyrusmalus

If your clients are indeed worrying about $20 for a software they could make use of and not just to try it, then they have some mental problems. You should change your business model and give them some private lessons in mathematics.

Do something healthy.
Stop eating too many Oranges!

June 3, 2009 3:46 pm

pyrusmalus

Urchin

from Glasgow, Scotland
6 posts

tech wrote:

,
I have to wonder if you're overlooking the fact that a big obstacle for shareware type apps is marketing.  It sounds to me that in your position you've served as a bit of a marketing front end and are finding that your method is dying by the wayside.

I'm not overlooking the fact that marketing is a big obstacle - in fact, it is something that I've been talking to developers about quite a bit. For some the expectations are 'build it and they will come' - no marketing required, for others it is the assumption that the App Store will do their marketing for them, whereas in reality it is the sales and distribution part that it performs.

What I've been doing in the past is recommending software - word-of-mouth recommendations are a good form of marketing, and if your product can achieve that then it says a lot about the quality of the product. The problem is that this form of marketing is now failing because of the client's perceived value of software. My worry is that other forms of marketing, both online and offline, that developers do will also fail because of the same perceptions.

tech wrote:

Note I'm not saying it's wrong as it really only applies to software that is likely to be in a bundle.  Note that johnred repeatedly spoke of popularity of apps.  There are new exciting apps released all of the time and not all of them make it into bundles.

I agree totally, but the apps that aren't in the bundle still suffer from the same perceptions with regard to value. When a new app is launched at, say, $40, how many customers decide to wait a couple of months for a bundle to come along? With bundles becoming such a regular fixture, rather than a surprise, it isn't hard to see that many potential customers will wait to see if it is in a bundle. The developer, perhaps disappointed by the lack of sales, participates in the bundle, and we have a self-fulfilling prophecy. What if the developer doesn't participate in the bundle?

tech wrote:

If customers of yours are simply wanting to wait to see if they make it into a bundle I have to question whether they truly needed them in the first place.

I believe they truly needed them - in some cases I've bought the software on their behalf as part of our consultancy fee to avoid the '$40 for an app!' argument. The argument is not that they didn't need it, but that they felt it was overpriced. Their feeling was that by buying it for $40 they were being charged ten times more than they felt was necessary. Delaying for a few months to see if it was in a bundle made them feel they weren't being ripped off! I know that's not a rational argument, but once consumers feel they're being 'ripped off', even when logic dictates otherwise, it is a hard position to get out of.

Returning to your initial point: one of the big obstacles facing independent software developers is marketing. My question really is what is there beyond bundles? What would be a good, sustainable, marketing effort that would have long-term benefits for developers and consumers?

June 3, 2009 3:51 pm
rampancy

rampancy

Moderator

from Denial.
3,890 posts

As another customer, I do think you raise a valid observation, but I'd very, very cautious before I'd take an observation from a limited sample size and extrapolate it to the greater whole. Simply put: while I'm sure you've talked to quite a few people, I don't think they as a whole are completely indicative of the entire market for Mac indie software.

I say this because I myself can draw on anecdotal evidence - from these forums and other forums/community sites I frequent - about how bundles (not just MacHeist, but other bundles) have helped grow and raise the visibility of the Mac indie software market. I know that I myself didn't spend a dime on shareware (apart from the EV trilogy from Ambrosia) before MacHeist 1 - partially because I was too cheap, and partially because I didn't care; now I don't have any problem with spending money on shareware because I know about the quality of the developer community, and the quality of the products they make. Other people I've come across just have this general sensation of "Oh cool, I didn't know there was an app which could do that, or do it so well." 

Your argument that people are too cheap to buy shareware at full price is something I've seen for a long, long time, since way before bundles were ever started. The Mac community is also blessed with an excellent F/OSS community, and for a lot of people, if there's an F/OSS alternative that does *most* of what a shareware app does then of course they'll go for that. Proteus being killed off by Adium/Fire is one example I can think of. Of course there are exceptions like CSSEdit, Coda and TextMate, but not everyone buying Mac shareware are web designers or coders who have a genuine need for apps like those -- and not every web designer or coder may want or need apps with the workflow, UI, and feature set of those apps.

And of course, people are just plain cheap, period. Daniel Jalkut blogged about the "Cult of Too Expensive" in August 2006, before MacHeist or any of the other famous bundles got big, and for veteran Mac users who've hung out at places like MacUpdate or VersionTracker (arguably a better barometer for how the "ordinary Mac plebes" view the value of current shareware offerings), I've always seen people pan even top-notch apps as being too expensive: "$xx for this? No way! Use (insert cheaper shareware app or F/OSS app) instead!" - I don't think this attitude has gotten any worse either since bundles began: apps like 1Password, OmniFocus, Things, CircusPonies NoteBook, and TaskPaper/WriteRoom have garnered some complaints over pricing but they've been drowned out by the near-unanimous praise showered on them from across the Mac web.

Finally, the importance of marketing really isn't something which should be panned, which is something I know you're not doing pyrusmalus, but is something I wanted to mention nevertheless. You ask about how a wider, more sustainable indie developer community can be cultivated; here's my answer: help to cultivate a wider, more sustainable customer base. (However, I know a lot of people would rather have the answer be "Have Phill, John, and the whole lot of the MH Community be hung, drawn, and quartered.") This might not have been so important back in the System 7.x.x-OS 8/9 glory days because the market wasn't growing (it was actually shrinking, as more people left the Mac). However, we've heard straight from Apple, that more and more people who are buying Macs and becoming part of the Mac community are new to the Mac: they're switchers. These are people whose experience with shareware is usually the crappy trialware/cripple pre-installed on their PCs, poorly written or pooly designed software, or apps which are just Trojan Horses for Malware, Spyware, and viruses; they're people who have zero experience with shareware on the Mac. Marketing to switchers and users new to the Mac is an important component of cultivating a wider customer base. 

Established developers with long pedigrees in the Mac software market, like Bare Bones Software, Omni, Panic, or St. Clair Software arguably don't need to aggressively pursue this market because they've already secured a healthy and sustainable niche for themselves - they make the one or two apps that everyone knows about because they've been around practically forever. But what about new developers just breaking through? A lot of people had never heard of 1Password or Agile Web Solutions before the first MacHeist, for instance.

The Mac indie software community is a lot more resilient that many people think - just as how a lot of people thought the sky was going to fall on independent dealerships when Apple went into retail, a lot of people thought the sky was going to fall on developers when Apple aggressively went into making its own software products or added functionality to the OS which mimicked shareware offerings. I also remember people thought the sky was falling on developers thanks to the "Delicious Generation". It will survive this, too.

Marathon Forever.
AppShelf: MacHeist 3 Loot
AppShelf: nanoBundle 1
Check Reciept Page for nanoBundle 2 AppShelf Files.

June 3, 2009 4:03 pm

pyrusmalus

Urchin

from Glasgow, Scotland
6 posts

stjg wrote:

If your clients are indeed worrying about $20 for a software they could make use of and not just to try it, then they have some mental problems. You should change your business model and give them some private lessons in mathematics.

I've tried to explain the logic to them - but they now have an emotional feeling that by paying 'retail' for an application they're being 'ripped off'. It is really hard to shift this type of emotional response - it is the same emotional logic that says a $19.99 product is much cheaper than a $20 product.

These aren't necessarily mental problems - just mistaken beliefs. There are plenty of otherwise rational people who fall for these things all the time, such as the sunk-cost fallacy and the percentage fallacy.

June 3, 2009 4:05 pm
phillryu

phillryu

Administrator

1,569 posts

You know, I could whine all day about Apple's 30%+ cut on all our Classics sales, and the App Store's low pricing pushing us to price at 99 cents. Or I would maybe, if it didn't also come with a possible international TV ad campaign and hundreds of thousands of customers in a few months. Maybe an extreme example, but when we're talking about trading off some $/copy for some massive marketing and ultimately, a much more massive paycheck for bundle devs, it doesn't strike me as unfair. It strikes me as a great opportunity. But to each his own?

EDIT: Oh right, about your worries about MacHeist killing the software scene, here's another way to look at it. Mac shareware distribution has always been inefficient, with no real centralized commerce. When you're reaching 1/100th of the people you could be reaching, you're probably not doing that well. (Hence, 90% of Mac shareware are side projects/hobbies, it's rare to find a shareware dev working full time.) The natural reaction is to up your prices in an attempt to compensate for revenue, and since you're only reaching the 1% of people who go out looking for your app, they're willing to swallow it. Now, is this (what are imo inflated prices) healthy for Mac shareware software as a whole? Is it healthy that a person can go to the app store and buy 25 games for the price of one Mac app? Especially during these economic times? I think these are some of the more common questions running through customers minds.

The real question I have though is why you guys are participating in a near carbon clone of our bundle sale business model (minus marketing + charity) when you posit it is killing our industry.

Co-Creator of MacHeist, Clear, Partner at tap tap tap | follow me on twitter

June 3, 2009 4:19 pm
bdegrande

bdegrande

Sky Pirate

from Hoboken, NJ
1,241 posts

Of course it would be nice to get $88k over a couple of weeks, I can't deny that. But that's not exactly regular income is it? Isn't it better to make that over the course of a year the hard way - and the year after that, and the year after that? That's what I've done with DragThing for the last twelve years it's been on sale. A good product, sold for a fair and sustainable price, and it's kept me in business.

I think that 88000 new customers most definitely leads to sustainable income, IF you have a good app (and by all of the comments it seems that you do). These customers will pay to upgrade to newer versions and will be more likely to buy other applications that you develop.  I and many others will shortly pay to upgrade to 1Password 3.0, and that's an app that has often been given away.

I think you made a very poor business decision here by ANY standard - short term, long term, publicity, etc.

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June 3, 2009 4:19 pm
BigMark

BigMark

Sky Pirate

from Kent, UK.
1,553 posts

Having carefully read all above I'm a little uncomfortable at the public display of what clearly should have been a private discussion. 

It's still an interesting opportunity to weigh up the merits  of the various business models here, but I'm really not qualified to do that.

What I can offer is my experiences and one of the recent "switchers" who's benefited from MacHeist, MU Promo, MacZot bundles as well as from various developer promotions.

I definitely look on bundles as an opportunity to buy products I would not otherwise have bought at the price.  I even bought the Machiest 2 Retail bundle before I had a Mac.

Let's take the recent MacHeist 3 bundle (loot aside)

Acorn
Nice enough but I bought Pixelmator previously so there's no way I'd have bought this had it not been in the bundle

Appshelf
Very nice, but I use Wallet that I got from MacHeist2 retail bundle, incidentally I paid to upgraded to v3 and I've been responsible for 2 extra sales from people who've seen my copy.  My friend & family member who bought it are  unaware I got it cheap as part of a bundle & the developer got some extra money there.

BoinxTV
I'm intending to try this out soon and it's nice that I have it but I'd have had no practical use that would have warranted buying this whatever it's typical selling price was.

Espresso
This was one of the selling points for me, I've not yet got into web development, but it's my intention to do so for my own needs.  I'd previously bought Rapidweaver but I was aware I would need to take thing further at some point.  In reality I'd probably have bought Coda not Espresso so the Espresso devs wouldn't have had my money anyway.

iSale
I already had GarageSale but was happy to have this as a better product, I probably wouldn't have bought separately.

Kinemac
Looks like it'll be fun to play with, I'd been meaning to try out Blender (free) but this looks like a great thing to have, but I wouldn't have bought it.  In fact I'd never heard of it.

LittleSnapper
Very nice, but I love Skitch.  I do use it for keeping a reference record of web pages where I want the whole page in tact for research.  I wouldn't have bought separately though as I also use Shovebox for the same purpose.

PhoneView
I have an iPhone so this has some use for me, I hadn't previously bought it and I can't honestly say whether I would have done as I hadn't heard of it.

Picturesque
Nice effects, but in my opinion a bit of a filler app for me.  I've not found a use for it.

Souschef
I have MacGourmet Deluxe which I thought I'd use but don't.  I've not really explored this though.

The Hit List
Here's an app I'd ruled out on price previously.  Really simple and useful but wasn't worth $49.95 to me.  I was reasonably happy with alternatives I had, this is particularly complicated by the fact I'd got used to Process3 that I got as MacHeist3 loot for task management.  I didn't even download a trial because of the $50 price but having used it for a while I now think I'd have bought it at a more reasonable price.

Times RSS Reader
This looks like it's going to be very nice when I work out how to set it up.  I'm still using NetNewsWire (free), but I've been thinking that for news based feeds it would be nice to have them in this app instead.  Again, I wouldn't have bought because I'd never heard of it and I had NetNewsWire synced between my iPhone, PC & Mac.

Wiretap Studio
I love this, but I already had Wiretap Pro & Sound Studio from MacHeist2 Retail Bundle.  I'd definitely not have bought this.

World of Goo
This is a brilliant game, widely known to the extent that pretty much everyone who wanted it may well have already bought it.  I'm not a games player, at least I wasn't.

I could go on about all the individual loot apps but that'd take too long but from my perspective I've bought a lot of apps in bundles that I'd never have bought otherwise and where I use them regularly I hand over my upgrade fee with a smile knowing that I've already had great value.

I found MacHeist 3 to be incredible value for me despite the fact that there was very little there I'd have bought separately.  I actually bought an extra bundle as I'm intending to get a Mac for my wife soon.  I didn't buy a bundle for my Dad this time, which I would normally do, as there really wasn't anything there he'd have used.

Now it's not as clear cut as it seems above as some of the apps I already has were as a result of previous bundles, but would I have know about those without the previous bundles?

If we take some of my less well informed Mac owning friends as an example then I can honestly say that they just don't but many apps.  Sure, they've bought some seeing what I have, but many where unaware of TextExpander & 1Password which change their daily Mac lives.

Product awareness and the upgrade potential value of a vastly expanded use base really shouldn't be underestimated.

In additon, I bought Tweetie (Mac & iPhone) as a result of Scribbles being included as loot this time, I loved it so much I went to the site to see what else the developer has made.  I was using Nambu on the Mac & Twitterfon on the iPhone previously and was happy with those.

I think James has been very civil and informative and I thank him for continuing in this thread beyond the point he wasn't actually made an offer for inclusion in Macheist.  Whatever his feelings on bundles it's got to be tough being reminded what you could have had if some communication mistakes hadn't occurred.

Edited as there's been many new posts since I started writing this

I think you made a very poor business decision here by ANY standard - short term, long term, publicity, etc.

He didn't make that decision, the offer was never made, it was a misunderstanding which is why I appreciate how gracious James is being here.  Who knows whther he would have decided to go with MH3 or not?  Had the opportunity been there and turned down you'd be right, but it wasn't.

I love the Macheist ethos and the attention to detail and customer service and I'm not suggesting anyone is at fault here.  IF the offer had been re-made for MH3 and IF James had accepted it then yes, he's have made a lot of money.

He's clearly a talented developer and had his own mind as to whether he'll consider a future Macheist as worthwhile to him.

Mark.

June 3, 2009 4:22 pm
j3snyder

j3snyder

Big Game Hunter

from Yerington, NV
988 posts

Thanks John and James for the lively discussion.  it was good two see two opinions (though at points it could have been more civil on both sides imo).  Let me share my real life experience.

Notebook, bookends, delicious library, writeroom, parallels, awaken, istock, netbarrier, souschef, lugaru, multiwinia, tech tool pro, and 1password are all apps I learned about from a bundle, and use basically daily.  I will pay (and have paid) full price to get new versions of these apps.  I would not have bought them otherwise.  However, since using them, the developer will make 20-50 dollars each time they update because they chose to take a one time price of 3-5 dollars.

Some software is recommended to me by friends.  Scrivener is an app I will continue to pay for because of its features.  I learned about it here at macheist in the forums.  Other similar apps for me have been bean, omni's freeware (leading me to check out their shareware), and some of the bigfishgames,  These companies would not have me as a customer if it were not for the community here at macheist.

I have not bought any shareware that was not introduced to me in some way through macheist or macupdate, and most of the bundle software I use very rarely.  Some I will never use (sorry Johnred, but iclip never worked for me for some reason).  And yet more I have recommended to friends, including: Scrivener, writeroom, bean, notebook, wiretap, espresso, shovebox, and others.  SOme of these were purchased at full price as a result.   

The question is, is it worth it for a developer to take an immediate stipend to grow his customer base (or maybe not), even though it means only receiving a dollar to 5 dollars per license?  Sometimes this leads to full price purchases, sometimes to just update costs, and others to nothing more.  In my opinion, it is worth it.

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June 3, 2009 4:24 pm
BigMark

BigMark

Sky Pirate

from Kent, UK.
1,553 posts

Something else has occurred to me... I'd not heard of James Thomson or his products beofre the discussions on the MacHeist forums big_smile.

June 3, 2009 4:33 pm
lambolover242

lambolover242

Sky Pirate

from 0800-00
1,068 posts

BigMark wrote:

Something else has occurred to me... I'd not heard of James Thomson or his products beofre the discussions on the MacHeist forums big_smile.

Like most people... wink

Is this really worth the trouble.

June 3, 2009 4:37 pm
Wasgo

Wasgo

Sky Pirate

from Vancouver, Canada
1,278 posts

To be honest, as a consumer, why shouldn't you wait for bundles? Almost every application you could want ends up in a bundle, which suggests there is no need to pay full price for an application. Obviously it makes sense to buy applications at full price if you need them immediately, or they are unlikely to appear in a bundle, but if you simply want a type of application, why not wait? Here are the list of applications that were included in MacUpdate and MacHeist bundles so far:

MUPromo wrote:

TechTool Pro 5
Parallels Desktop 4
Circus Ponies Notebook 3
NetBarrier X5
Ripit
DVDRemaster Pro 5
Multiplex
MoneyWell
Paperless
Posterino
BetterZip

Drive Genius 2
RapidWeaver 4
DefaultFolder X 4
VirusBarrier X 10.5
MacGourmet Deluxe
LittleSnitch 2
KeyCue 4
MacPilot 3
WhatSize 4
iVolume 3

Parallels Desktop
Hazel
Typinator
DVDRemaster
Sound Studio
Banner Zest
Art Text
MenuCalendarClock
Leap
StoryMill

ForkLift
RapidWeaver
Swift Publisher
Marine Aquarium
Xslimmer
MemoryMiner
Yep
XMIND 2008 Pro
iStabilize
PulpMotion
SRS iWow 2

SRS iWOW
GarageSale
Cocktail
ProfCast
Amadeus Pro
Fetch
Graphic Converter X
Little Snitch
Intaglio
TechTool Pro

MacHeist wrote:

Delicious Library
FotoMagico
ShapeShifter
DEVONthink Personal
Disco
Rapidweaver
iClip
Choice of 1 Pangea Game (Pangea Arcade, Enigmo 2, Nanosaur 2 , Bugdom 2)
Newsfire
TextMate

1password
Cover Sutra
Cha-Ching
iStopMotion
Awaken
TaskPaper
AppZapper
Speed Download
CSSEdit
Snapz Pro X
Pixelmator
WingNuts 2
VectorDesigner

Overflow
Wallet
WriteRoom
SoundStudio
TextExpander
VoodooPad

iSale
Picturesque
Sous Chef
World of Goo
PhoneView
LittleSnapper
Acorn
Kinemac
WireTap Studio
BoinxTV Sponsored Edition
The Hit List
Espresso

Silver Snakes Assemble!

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June 3, 2009 4:38 pm
rampancy

rampancy

Moderator

from Denial.
3,890 posts

BigMark wrote:

I think you made a very poor business decision here by ANY standard - short term, long term, publicity, etc.

He didn't make that decision, the offer was never made, it was a misunderstanding which is why I appreciate how gracious James is being here.  Who knows whther he would have decided to go with MH3 or not?  Had the opportunity been there and turned down you'd be right, but it wasn't.

No, no, James is the developer of DragThing, and he was given an offer to be a part of MacHeist 3 (though I don't remember whether it was for loot or the bundle).

Marathon Forever.
AppShelf: MacHeist 3 Loot
AppShelf: nanoBundle 1
Check Reciept Page for nanoBundle 2 AppShelf Files.

June 3, 2009 4:41 pm
Pace

Pace

Automaton Tech

from Brussels, Belgium
311 posts

rampancy wrote:

I say this because I myself can draw on anecdotal evidence - from these forums and other forums/community sites I frequent - about how bundles (not just MacHeist, but other bundles) have helped grow and raise the visibility of the Mac indie software market. I know that I myself didn't spend a dime on shareware (apart from the EV trilogy from Ambrosia) before MacHeist 1 - partially because I was too cheap, and partially because I didn't care; now I don't have any problem with spending money on shareware because I know about the quality of the developer community, and the quality of the products they make.

I have to agree fully with this statement, though my first bundle purchase was MacHeist 3.
Before MacHeist, I barely knew anything about indie software. I knew about Ambrosia Software because I'd stumbled upon EV Nova (& fallen in love with it). Through the MacHeist promotions, I discovered a world of applications of extremely high quality. I come back to MacHeist every year because as a customer, and I've purchased a load of applications outside of the promotions due to my increased knowledge of developers (some of them took part in MacHeist promotions with other apps, others were made known by discussions on these boards).

At the same time, I have felt the same way you describe, pyrusmalus, i.e. hesitating to purchase certain apps. At the same time, I feel that way about everything, because I'm hesitant to spend… in a way, therefore, MacHeist hasn't had much of a negative influence on my perception of value.

Peter "Pace" Craddock

Arpia.be - twaddle, music, novels and Arpia stuff.

June 3, 2009 4:52 pm
jdhoss

jdhoss

Big Game Hunter

from Minnesota
963 posts

What an interesting thread this has turned out to be and it's great to see James and John discuss the points so openly.

@James Thomson - You mentioned you'd like to see something that could sustain developers long term instead of a short-lived burst of income. Could you talk about your perception of the value of getting your software on the PC's of users who will use it and the strong possibility of collecting on upgrades.

I know that many developers would have to see bundle sales as more of a long term strategy that a quick cash scenario.

I can only speak as a user, but there are many applications that I've acquired through the couple bundles I purchased where the devs will definitely be seeing my upgrade dollars when the next version rolls out.

Action may not always bring happiness; but there is no happiness without action. - Benjamin Disraeli
BundleSite.com
Twitter
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June 3, 2009 4:59 pm
andys53

andys53

Sky Pirate

from a frog flu resistant land.
1,904 posts

As a newbie, who drives long hours for a living (70/80 per week), I can honestly say I would NEVER have bought any of the apps in the bundles. The fact that I did is down to 3 things:

1) I enjoyed the challenges in the puzzles that MacHeist brought me.
2) I should do more for charities.
3) This was a way of giving something back for the fun I'd had.

The chances are I won't use ANY of the apps in the 2 bundles I got, but that wasn't the point.

Thanks for the chance to put in my 2 penn'worth.  smile

smile From a spam free, orange team, land smile

June 3, 2009 6:41 pm
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