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Pricing

401 words

Joel Spolsky writes on software pricing, giving the theory, the practice and a hint that doing it correctly basically seems to be a form of magic.

While we’re not really commercial developers, we do have two applications for which we charge a shareware fee. We are aware that this won’t turn us into millionaires, but we didn’t aim for that to begin with. All our software projects started for fun reasons or due to our own needs rather than following something as non-fun as a business plan. The only reason we decided to put a shareware fee on those apps was that making them was quite an effort and it would be nice to have a small and symbolic thank you note from the people who use them.

The price we chose for the applications in question, Ballerburg and Rechnungs Checker is a very modest €5. The idea behind that was that people usually don’t care too much about spending €5 and will do that if they just ‘like’ the application. I tend to pay for stuff in that price range fairly quickly. Even if I stop liking it after a week, it’ll probably have been worth it.

Sadly, the number of registrations has been low. Very low, rather. Of course this is also due to the fact that these applications probably don’t have too many users. Not everybody likes retro games and even fewer people have a contract with a phone company that produces online phone bills which Rechnungs Checker can read.

My dad said, that €5 may actually be too cheap. Perhaps people don’t bother to pay because they think the amount of money isn’t worth the hassle. That’s a completely new twist to the story and I should probably be keen to stress that we’ll happily accept greater amounts…

Apart from the pricing question, another thing that we’ve discussed a few times is whether English speaking people will be too up their own arses to download an application like Rechnungs Checker or GeburtstagsChecker, just because it has got a German name. (Please comment!)

We actually discussed localising the names but came to the conclusion that this would only cause a lot of work and inconsistencies in terminology. So we concluded that doing that would be too high a price to pay just for letting people who won’t download stuff with a foreign name use our apps…

December 17, 2004, 17:11

Comments

Comment by d.w.: User icon

Back in the Jurassic (late 1980’s) I went to a corporate computing show in downtown Detroit. Among the sea of booths with green screens running MSDOS business apps was a lone Mac running Macromind’s (the predecessor of today’s Macromedia) Videoworks, the ancestor of their Director product line. The gentleman at the booth was very candid: they had essentially no corporate sales for the product when they were charging $99, but their unit sales actually rose when they raised the priced to $495. The reason? Corporate buyers believed that any software priced that cheaply was automatically a toy.

Re: Geburtstag/Birthday — my few months of college Deutsch clued me in to what your app was long before we became acquainted, but I would think that anyone wanting the functionality (and doing a search for “birthday” on VersionTracker) will end up at your site. I think the only question they might have is, if the name isn’t localized, perhaps the rest of the application isn’t either, which might scare off a level of people who are in too much of a hurry to read further and find out that it actually is.

December 21, 2004, 16:56

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