Is this how you want to sell software?

May 6th, 2010  |  Tags: , , ,  |  Leave a comment

Most of the software I write is released under permissive open-source licenses, but I’m sympathetic to people who want to make a living selling licenses for proprietary application software. I can’t understand the “bundle sales” phenomenon that has been widely-touted in the Mac world for the last few years. A lot of people have already written about how these bundles are a bad deal for developers and users, and, indeed, that they only work out well for the bundle promoters.

Furthermore, a lot of bundles seemingly rely on aggregating a huge number of low-quality programs into one inexpensive package. If I had a decent program that I was hoping to license to end-users, I don’t know why I’d want to put it in a flea market of hyperspecialized, half-baked programs of dubious utility. (This tactic is also antithetical to the sensibilities of the stereotypical Mac user. Indeed, if I had wanted a lot of shovelware that I’d likely never use, I’d just have bought a Vista-ready notebook from Best Buy, since these typically include shovelware preinstalled gratis.)

The truly remarkable thing, though, is that the bundle promoters seem to be embracing this flea market mentality. Take a look at the following image, which I cropped from a bundle-sale web page that someone mentioned on Twitter this morning:


This image of n application icons crammed into a cardboard box doesn’t say “these are quality tools that you will find useful and valuable.” Instead, it says “this box of junk didn’t sell at the yard sale and the weekend is almost over. Don’t look too closely, but you can have it for $20.”