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Selling Shareware

Here's an interesting article that covers one company's experience selling shareware software:

http://www.ambrosiasw.com/cgi-bin/ubb/newsdisplay.cgi?action=topics&number=14&article=000052

I would be curious to know if a company can make a living of developing shareware.

Matthew Lock
Sunday, February 03, 2002

I bet it's very, very rare for a sharware company to actually succeed.  It's naive to think "why don't we give a free, easily copyable release of my product and hoe that they pay me out of the goodness of their heart."  You'd think that it wouldn't take so long for the trends of reality to sink in to some of these companies.

Patrick Lioi
Sunday, February 03, 2002

I think it's uncommon for any company to succeed.

I once met the person who wrote the a86/d86 assembler/disassemblers, which were shareware products.  He was really well-off.

The lesson there was that it's possible -- if your "developer density" is high and the teams are small.  Plus, it has to actually fulfill a real use.

Selling shareware a) games to b) Mac users sounds like a perverse way to make money though.  The only saving grace is that the Mac market is not so saturated.

If a company wants to grow, I often see the pattern where shareware is a good platform during early stages, but must eventually become more conventional.

I am mainly curious how Free Software and Open Source affects shareware.

Stan Valdez
Sunday, February 03, 2002

It's possible. ButtonWare (the originator of the shareware concept) did quite well back in the DOS days. I'm pretty sure Nico Mak Computing (WinZip) has made a reasonable amount off of shareware as well. There are others.

But it is tough to make a living depending on the goodness of your fellow man.

Mike Gunderloy
Sunday, February 03, 2002

Spiderweb Software makes shareware RPGs in the classical vein (read tile based overhead view).  It seems he is doing well enough.  I hope to emulate his model with my own game (3d nethack type).

Jay Kint
Monday, February 04, 2002

I wonder what the difference in revenues would be between the nagware approach of Winzip versus trialware  that times out, versus software where the free version is a cut down full version like City Desk.

Matthew Lock
Monday, February 04, 2002

That was an interesting article. 

It will be interesting to see what happens to a lot of the open source movement when the programmer reach the 'Diapers and Life Insurance' stage of their life.

Ged Byrne
Monday, February 04, 2002

The term "shareware" is part of the problem. Shareware still seems to be confused with "free". "Independent software developers" need to experiement with different ways to configure a "free" and "pay" versions of software and make it really easy to purchase. From a consumer perspective, FogCreek seems to be doing this weel with both CityDesk and FogBUGZ. I don't however know whether or not this is working from a business perspective.

pb
Monday, February 04, 2002

CityDesk and FogBUGZ are shareware - at least by the current meaning of the term.  At the beginning, the Association of Shareware Professionals - http://www.asp-shareware.org/ - decided that it was only shareware when you distributed the full version - no 'cripleware' or 'extra-features on registration' software need apply.

Now it applys to any 'try before you buy' software. Even Microsoft has had products that can be called shareware.

A well-known saying on a sharewear mailing list I used to be on was 'shareware is a kind of marketing, not a kind of software.'

Jeff Pleimling
Monday, February 04, 2002

Exactly. But FogCreek would never *call* it shareware. The issue isn't some organization's definition of "shareware". It's that users associate "shareware" with "free".

pb
Monday, February 04, 2002

I'm confused about ambrosia's attempt to stop piracy..
If the codes contain the date the code was created whats to stop a hacker from posting

"Use code# xyz123 and set your system clock to jan. 2 2000 when you do the install"?

John Lember
Monday, February 04, 2002

I think his argument is that you can never stop the hardcore, but if you make it inconvenient for the majority they can easily be discouraged.

Ged Byrne
Tuesday, February 05, 2002

To prevent piracy, you must bind your software to some information customer does not wont to spread, credit card number beeing the most obvious choice.
http://www.screenthemes.com does it this way.
After paying by credit card you receive registration number, which you use together with credit card number during installation.

Mojmir Strhan
Tuesday, February 05, 2002

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