Oh what a world...

by Francois Joseph de Kermadec

Over the past few weeks, lacking anything of real interest to munch on, the Mac world has become ablaze with developer compensation. It started with TextMate, continued with Disco and reached an all-time height on Tuesday with MacHeist. A lot of people who all can claim to develop some piece of code or other publish lengthy articles detailing how, in their opinion, some individual company or person is ripping them or their friends off. There are, indeed, a great many interesting points surrounding the issue of developer compensation. What is an application worth? Is it fair that one guy who merely distributes a few lines of code in a zipped bundle gets more than someone who sweat blood writing the actual thing?


2006-12-15 02:34:27
Thanks for a nice article!

It's suprising how intresting it can be with new (and for some people scary) marketing tacticts. But as I read somwhere else yesterday, if no one tries no one will ever know what works and what doesn't. The thing about the MH guys putting it a lot in their own pockets is so common in the rest of the world, just look at any big marketing plan, mobile phone companies or whatever. People gets drawn to making money out of (almost) nothing. Like the mobile carriers taking huge money for data transfers even if it costs them next to nothing. If people want to pay they will pay, whoever they pay to doesn't really matter for them.

2006-12-15 04:43:18
After going to MacHeist and seeing what a nice deal for Mac users they've got, with programs I'd love to own. I could not resist. Especially now when more and more (if not all) of my friends move to the Mac platform. I've treated them all with a $250 purchase, giving 6 friends and myself a bundle of software for christmas. That can't be a bad thing right? If buying one license for each of them is over $300 itself. They're basically giving it away and I am glad I also gave a portion to charity while doing so. What they've done is smart, easy quick cash, and if they got rich(er) from people buying a bundle; so what. It's a great way to get introduced to other Mac software.
Peter Jaros
2006-12-15 06:43:18
"The market fixes the price."

True. The blog rants are a necessary part of the process. It's how we move opinion around to settle, eventually, on whether this type of system will be appreciated by the market. Personally, I think it's bad for business as a whole. But we'll see how it settles out eventually.

2006-12-15 07:03:23

Thank you for your kind message. Funny thing is, supermarkets have been selling bundles and packs for a long time. In malls, some discount stores have extended the concept to only selling goods in bundles - which, admittedly, is usually a cheap ploy to disguise some horrible merchandise. I guess a large part of the shock comes from the new light this sheds on software, presenting it more as a consumption good and less as a "way of computing".


2006-12-15 07:04:19

I'm sure your friends will love their gift! They certainly have a great surprise waiting for them this Christmas! Let us know how it goes! ;^)


2006-12-15 07:05:43

I have never been a fan of bundling myself and, while I do not agree with most of the opinions circulating around at the moment on how the system is ripping off developers, I remain to be convinced as to the ultimate added value of the thing. I'm sure there is one and the experience will prove fantastic for some, less so for other. Only, as you say, time will tell.


2006-12-15 07:36:41
As the charter of the greatest of all American labor unions, the IWW, says, "Labor is entitled to all it creates."
2006-12-16 09:14:53
Re: "If people think your application is worth $4, then it is worth $4. The market fixes the price."

True...but only up to a point. A legitimate question is why do people think my application is only worth $4? One reason may be that they can get a competing application that is almost as good for free, so they feel $4.00 is about all they are willing to pay for my product. But why is the other product free? Perhaps because it is made by Microsoft and they are willing to take a loss on it so as to drive me out of business lest I become a serious competitor one day. Or maybe the other software was developed in a country that pays slave labor wages (pennies a day) to its developers and can thus afford to offer this particular product as free just to draw publicity for their company.

I know this is more hypothetical than real in the case of software development. But I wanted to make a general point about the so called free market not always being as free as people pretend it is.

2006-12-16 10:18:34

You raise some very interesting questions indeed. It is true the free market is indeed never really free and the theory of a perfectly lubricated system, bathed in pervasive, accurate information is far from the truth. When I say the market fixes the price, maybe I should say the market imposes a price on you, the seller. Whether that price is fixed at a reasonable level thanks to no other force than the pure market is another question. In the end however, I guess it matters little to both the involved parties.

Thanks again for taking the time to discuss this crucial point!


2006-12-19 01:33:20
"What is an application worth? Is it fair that one guy who merely distributes a few lines of code in a zipped bundle gets more than someone who sweat blood writing the actual thing?
The answer is yes. Sad, but true. "

But there is a difference between making a tidy profit through smart marketing, and stating that your motivation behind bundling software was for the 'benefit of the Mac developer'. Implying therefore that each sale is also going somewhat towards the developer.

2006-12-19 07:07:13

Not having dissected Mac Heists' marketing, I am afraid my reply to your comment can only be cursory. If they did misrepresent the compensation of developers, then, I would indeed agree there is an issue. If they limited themselves to saying the project aimed at benefiting Mac Developers, then it is hard to prove them wrong.