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Programming IT Technology

Do You Pay for Your Shareware? 898

geddes writes: "Ambrosia Software, an independent Macintosh shareware developer, has just published an article about the effect Piracy has on thier small business. They recently implemented a new serial number scheme where the software connected to thier server to verify reigistration, and found that in two days, of the 197 of the users trying to verify thier codes, 107 were using pirated ones. Crime always hurts the little guy more."
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Do You Pay for Your Shareware?

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  • by CDWert ( 450988 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @10:37AM (#2941641) Homepage
    There was a time for shareware...when developers were far and few and could count on the generosity of like minded people that could appreciate their effort and would pay, this probably in reality ceased by 1987. Economic factors, ill pay later when I can afford it. I dont use it that much. etc . contribute to the decline of Shareware.

    That saidsome of this crap being peddeled as "Shareware" couldnt be farther from Shareware as I remeber it from about 1982-1994 or so. Time limited software isnt shareware, its just that time limited demo's. Feature limited software is just that , feature limited software demo's . Shareware WAS a complete functioning game or program, that if you liked were supposed to do 2 things, Share it , (this was to spread the program and increase popularity), and Pay for it if you liked it.

    The people using computers arent the same as they were , they were appreciative of other programmers efforts, I had MANY friends that although they pirated software on a regular basis , WOULD pay for certain pieces of software, the Original Castle Wolfenstien was one.

    Times have changed. Software revenues must too, some things I GPL, some I dont , and sell , I have a package thats sold over the last 4 years about 50 copies at over 1000 each. Its a revenue source, I need. so dont blast me with I should open source it. BUT it contains, what has so far benn an unbreakable product registration scheme. Funny part is I wrote it to check and log , etc. I have only had one person attemt to crack it, and ten only by regedits, etc. They eventually bought it. Its a web app, and pretty useless without connectivity, SO i can prety much guarentee the WILL be online to use it , hence the ability to contact the server running my reg app.
  • by Kevinv ( 21462 ) <.kevin. .at. .vanhaaren.net.> on Saturday February 02, 2002 @12:28PM (#2942027) Homepage
    It doesn't call home everytime you launch or use it, in fact I don't think it calls home at all. The process described has to do with the process of updating an old serial number for the new version (or getting a new registation number after purchasing -- but those are valid numbers anyway), this process is browser based, not built into the app.

    What's really interesting is the 107 people that tried to use a "pirated" number, when through the process of trying to update the old pirated number to a new valid number for the new version.

    In other words, this was people taking time to run through a registration process, but not having time to pay for the software.


    i pay for shareware i use, but prefer to find a free solution first.

    and maelstrom is still a kick-ass game from Ambrosia (it's like 10 years old now and still fun)

  • by Jonathan ( 5011 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @12:59PM (#2942150) Homepage
    Who determines what "excessive profit" is? You?

    Sure, me, you and everyone else indirectly through regulation enacted by our elected officials. That's what democracy is all about.

    Attempts to regulate businesses' profits is getting close to Socialism, which obviously doesn't work.

    That isn't obvious at all. Sure, Stalinism failed, but there are plenty of partially socialist countries out there like Sweden and Canada which aren't doing so badly. In fact, they generally beat the US according to the UN's quality of life index. (BTW, although I live in Canada, I'm a US citizen by birth, so that isn't just nationalistic posturing)

    Remember the rolling blackouts in California? Those were due to power companies not being able to charge what they needed to to sell power, thus, there simply wasn't enough to go around.

    Yes, but that was caused by partial *deregulation*, thus demonstrating the need for regulation. Those blackouts didn't happen in the many years of full regulation, nor do they happen now in places were full regulation is in place.
  • by fprefect ( 14608 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @01:14PM (#2942233)
    I can walk into WalMart and buy any of ID software's fine games for $15, ten bucks cheaper than Ambrosia. Yep, then bucks makes a difference to pizza and beer budgets. It's funny how ID software has not made their games as bothersome as this.

    Well, let's be honest. Most ID games did not start out in the bargain bin, and the games you find there are 2 years (and 2 generations) old. Our latest game [deimosrising.com] is just $20. If you can't afford that much for a new game and at least a week's entertainment, then you should just play checkers with your cat. =)

    The second huge mistake he's made is to inconvienence his honest clients. If his registration process was really easier than obtaining crack codes, honest people would not obtain crack codes.

    Well, the registration process has 2 limitations that surfing the net for a license code doesn't: you have to wait for us to process your order (normally 1 business day), and you have to actually pay for the software. It's not shrinkwrap software, so you can't buy it at the store, but Snapz is fully functional for 15 days (and watermarks images after that) -- you get a fair chance to use it and see if it meets your needs.

    We've considered automating the registration process further, but you'd be surprised by the number of registrations need to be massaged when they come in... incorrect email addresses or comments like "I may have registered this already, can you tell if I did so my card isn't charged?" For now, a human is still necessary to proof the information.

    I applaud anyone who can afford to write free software, but I still need a day job to feed my family.

    Matt Slot / Bitwise Operator / Ambrosia Software, Inc.
  • by PhotoGuy ( 189467 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @01:15PM (#2942237) Homepage
    "Lesson learned" means that you're making free software now?

    No, me and my family like to eat. People only get my software now when they pay in advance, or may me rates to develop it. No more shareware.
    There is nothing more pathetic than people trying to charge money for some simple shit program.

    I agree; this wasn't a simple thing, though; it was a lightweight VT-100 compliant, background terminal emulator for DOS (you remember TSR's?) It let you pop it up when you needed it, did x/ymodem transfers in the background, and was small. (Kind of modelled after "mirror", which went in the background, but took up a hundred K or so.) Was very handy in it's day, and reasonably widely used.

  • by mactari ( 220786 ) <rufwork@NOspaM.gmail.com> on Saturday February 02, 2002 @01:17PM (#2942245) Homepage
    What was even better than the Ambrosia article was a link within it to another article entitled, "Why Do People Register, Does Crippling Work, Does Anybody Really Know?"

    http://hackvan.com/pub/stig/articles/why-do-peop le -register-shareware.html

    Here, if you believe all you read, a shareware author created a scheme in a newly released app in order for it to act as "nagware" in 50% of its installs and "crippleware" on the other half, even if the app was uninstalled and reinstalled.

    The results were that people were approximately 5 times more likely to register the crippleware than the nagware.

    > Assuming that if all copies had been restricted the monthly
    > registration count would have risen by the difference between the
    > "PoNC" and "Restricted " figures total sales, there has
    > effectively been a loss in sales of 685 copies, for a value of
    > $17125, which I guess is what the experiment cost to perform.

    Though the price of shareware might seem too high, often the price of having shareware that doesn't work due to a crippling routine is even higher.
  • by fprefect ( 14608 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @01:58PM (#2942440)
    Obviously you haven't used the software in question. Originally used in-house to capture screenshots and movies of games (which are notoriously incompatible with the system capture), we found that many software reviewers and publishers wanted the same functionality. Another popular market is software training, where comparable products costs hundreds of dollars. Snapz can even capture DVD video displayed on certain graphcis cards.

    If you have a Mac, download it and you can try it free for 15 days. I think you'll find it has many more features than comparable products.

    Personally, I find the strength of shareware is that someone finds a need, writes a product to solve the problem, and charges just what's necessary to cover his costs. Compared to Microsoft or Adobe bloatware, shareware can meet your needs while staying on a budget.

    Of course, you need to decide whether the functionality is worth the cost to you. If it's not, then all we ask is you don't use the software. It's that simple.

    Matt Slot / Bitwise Operator / Ambrosia Software, Inc
  • by Pete (big-pete) ( 253496 ) <peter_endean@hotmail.com> on Saturday February 02, 2002 @02:24PM (#2942537)

    It's interesting that you mention that people are willing to pay for software if it's easier to pay than to get the crack codes.

    There has only been one occasion when I have searched for a crack code, and that was when the software I had (music CD playing software) was exactly what I wanted, without all the bells and whistles you typically see. I tried to register the software, but the company had been absorbed into a bell'n'whistles music CD software producing company that gave their software away as freeware. As a result I couldn't pay for the simple software that I wanted, so I eventually gave up and got a crack code.

    I try and pay for any shareware I use on a frequent basis if I think it is fairly priced, and it's simple enough to pay. If not, then I either delete it, or just stop using it. The one exception at the moment is WinZip - and I'll pay for that soon, it just seems to be that I never remember to register it when I have my credit card to hand...doh.

    -- Pete.

"I'm not afraid of dying, I just don't want to be there when it happens." -- Woody Allen