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Poor business practices

08/20/06 | by Adam | Categories: Technology, Whining

A while ago I was pretty positive about a Palm application called WorldMate Pro. It's a traveller's companion including all sorts of conversion factors, world weather reports, airline flight checker and so on. It looked nice and worked pretty well. When I first bought it, it lacked the flight stuff, but had pretty much everything else, and was a buy-once app. When they moved to calling it "pro" and added the flight stuff, the developers included a year's subscription to the advanced services. When the subscription expired, they asked me to renew the subscription and I declined given that I was primarily using the non-advanced features. When I went to use it after that, it stopped working entirely. Given that they want $50 a year for maintenance, I'm rather annoyed about the whole deal. Anyway, now due to its all or nothing deal, the software is not recommended.

Trillian, on the other hand, has it right. You get support while the subscription is active, and then you don't. The application however keeps working whatever the status of the support contract.

Then there are companies like ACDSee who have download support contracts -- pay extra and they'll let you download the progam again at a later date. This has to rate as one of the sillier nickeling and diming ways to success.

I don't mind paying for my software, nor even paying for support. SplashData, a PalmOS development house, regularly gets money out of me for modest updates because there's never a sense of screwing me out of cash, and they *do* supply bug fixes and functionality upgrades in the meantime.

Other companies, like Aerodrome Software, who created my preferred MP3 player for the Palm, sold a lifetime registration which covers releases until the end of time. While their website is still active, there's been nothing from them in about a year. I'd prefer to pay a little and get ongoing development for software I like, but I guess sometimes it gets obsoleted or the developers have other priorities in their lives. Nice deal while it lasted though.

On the operating system side, Microsoft is getting my goat with the very expensive upgrades or purchases. Apple, whom I have to say I'm far more in favour of these days, sell a family license for OSX which covers five installations for less than double the price of a single user license. Given that even the 5 user license is still cheaper than a single XP license, I can tell you where I'm going to keep my family legal. I'll save my opinion on the free operating systems (like the various Linux distros) for another day.

So what's the conclusion here? Don't be greedy, folks, and we'll pay up.


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