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how profitable can shareware development be?

just curious.

justcurious
Thursday, August 01, 2002

Well, as always: It depends.
First the good thing about shareware: It reduces the cost of a sale considerable if you do not have to buy shelf space, ads, create packing and so on and thus can be tremendously profitable.
It depends mainly on the type of software that you are selling, on what you really mean by the term shareware and on whom you sell it to.

When the concept of shareware was created it was quite radical: Allow users to share software and trust them to pay you if they do like it instead of putting shrink-wrap software in a store and collecting before the user has a chance to try.
Of course with the Internet the distinction has softened considerably. You can download time-limited trial versions of most big shrink-wrap software packages on the net and you can buy shrink-wrapped versions of successful shareware packages in stores.

If you go the hardcore shareware road with unlimited full-featured trial your chances of success with shareware are slim.
People are dishonest. It’s sad, but a fact: A large percentage of your users will go out of their way to find that crack or free license code on the net for your software, much less pay for software that does not “remind” them hard enough by being flat-out time limted. Time-limited trials on the other hand are fine and  if you add fanatic support as well as a good measure of search-engine marketing you can be extremely successful with just a website and your products for download.
As for the people to sell software to: I like to sell to professionals. People who need my software as a tool, a means to do their work. They are not as reluctant to pay for quality software as the general crowd.

Claus Christensen
Thursday, August 01, 2002

In a sense, almost all software is shareware these days.

James

James Shields
Thursday, August 01, 2002

Wrong question. The question is "how profitable can software development by small outfits be?" and the answer is "extremely". Just don't call it "shareware".

pb
Thursday, August 01, 2002


id Software started as a shareware company, from Commander Keen until Doom2. And that small games gave Carmack enough money to buy _several_ ferraris.

Oh, and they didn't mind call it "shareware".

Leonardo Herrera
Thursday, August 01, 2002

There are a few people earning lots and lots of people earning nothing.

Tony E
Friday, August 02, 2002

It's tough these days.

There are so many people writing software (some good, some absolute crap) it's hard to compete.

If you do make a successful product, you'll have to work very hard to keep ahead.

As soon as people catch on to the fact taht you've found a new niche market, everyone and their dog will be jumping in.

In 1995-96, I wrote a file management application that got a rating of 4.5 cows (out of a possible 5) from TUCOWS. 

I worked like mad for a long time and only managed to make $40 for my efforts.  I spent about $350 on tools and many hours working on it. 

I learned a lot about object oriented programming while working on the program which came in useful in my day job later on (Java)...did I make a profit....yes, but not monatarily.

I've been tempted to take another crack at it, but with all the hackers/crackers, and free software available, I'm not sure if it's worth the hassle.

Later on I did custom software development work for some clients and made a lot more money from it.


Brad

Brad Clarke
Saturday, August 03, 2002

I second the notion that it's HARD!!!!

Like most software, successful shareware requires more than just writing good software, it requires PR and that PR takes A LOT OF TIME and MONEY.

About 2 years ago I decided to make a shareware product mostly for fun.  First I found out that creating a functional program, the one I created for myself with almost no interface, was about 10% of the work of creating the product.

Then I found out that writing docs, making a webpage, setting up or registering with a site to sell it, collect the money, etc was even more work than getting the software done.  (my product is kind of small)

Then I found out that getting anybody to notice it exists is A TON OF WORK.  And it costs money.  All the big sites download.com, tucows.com etc now want money to review your product.  They also want money and lots of it to make your product come up at the top of a search.  If I remember correctly download.com wants $3K a month!!!!  In the last 2 years I haven't yet made $3K from my product.

I'm not trying to claim my product is great and should have sold.  I'm trying to point out that it can cost quite a bit of money and time to get the word out so if you think you are going to write some app, upload it to one or two places and be done with it you're not.  If you really want to make money at shareware you are going to have to invest many many many hours at it.

I think thumbsplus.com is making a living on shareware although their product is probably slowing losing it's market as both MS and Apple start including most of their functionality with their OSes.

Gregg Tavares
Sunday, August 04, 2002

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