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How do I sell an application?

I have written an application similar to NetCaptor which can be found at

It is a "browser with tabs" - uses IE for web page loading and rendering, but every page is put on a tab, so it doesn't clutter the taskbar.

The program has a popup killer and a quick search feature (ie. type "g keyword1 keyword2" and a new Google search tab will appear for the specified keywords).

I have tried selling it as shareware, but in 6 months, only a few people bought it, in spite of the fact that it's quite a decent app.

I would like to recover some of the effort spent on writing the program by selling it, complete with source code, exclusive rights, and customization (should the buyer require this).

How can I find a buyer?

Is there another way to sell it?

Thank you!

Michael D.
Monday, May 12, 2003

What is your application's unique selling proposition? The feature list sounds like Opera.

John Topley
Monday, May 12, 2003

I've written it, and have the source.

If you want a custom browser with tabs (no matter what customization you want to do), both I and Opera can sell you the source code to the browser.


- My browser uses IE as a rendering engine, so it is fully compatible with sites that use IE-only stuff.

- I shall sell my browser's source code at a cost significantly lower than the cost of the Opera source code

- I provide customization for the source code.

- I can give you, by contract, the exclusive rights to my source code, whereas Opera can't (or can, but at a prohibitive price).

Michael D.
Monday, May 12, 2003

Sorry to have to say this, but when I read your product description, the only word that came to mind was "Why?".

Steve Jones (UK)
Monday, May 12, 2003

Sorry to say, but I just found Avant Browser -
it's free - you don't get the source code or licensing rights - a non-issue for 99.999% of users.

Monday, May 12, 2003

Your are moving into a very crowded marked segment dominated by free or otherwise very cheap (<10$) shareware solutions.
You wil have to find a way to differentiate your offering from those, and all that in the short time before (specultation) the basic IE will include those features.

Just me (Sir to you)
Monday, May 12, 2003

Hey! I didn't say that I want to sell the application, as a binary.

I'm simply looking for ONE buyer to sell the source code + all the rights to the program, for a price like $ 400.

There are companies, like Neoplanet, who build their own custom browsers based on IE.

Maybe there is a company who wants to do their own browser with tabs, and wants to buy it.

Michael D.
Monday, May 12, 2003

May be more modification and input from the users make your software sellable for their requirement.

One thing that I wanted to see via browsing the page are new words that are on the pages and build a custom dictionary for it.  Or  bookmark feature like [powermarks] but more robust and within browser  interace. Automatic  building of HTML page based on your favorites and stylesheet  is another one.

Monday, May 12, 2003

You're selling the copyright outright to a single buyer for $400? Please tell me this only took 4 hours for you to hack together?

Dennis Atkins
Monday, May 12, 2003

How about trying a company in Redmond called Microsoft. They might have $400 to spare.

Stephen Jones
Monday, May 12, 2003

> You're selling the copyright outright to a single
> buyer for $400? Please tell me this only took 4
> hours for you to hack together?

No, it took about 1 month of full-time work.

I know $ 400 is not much to you, but I live in China and to me, $ 400 is one month's salary.

Michael D.
Monday, May 12, 2003

The problem is that end users don't like paying for browsers. They can use Netscape or Mozilla for tabbed browsing.

And I can't see offhand how it can help as an embedded application.

The only use I can see is for reference material that uses IE as an embedded browser. Britannia for example uses IE and a tab would be a great idea. They are probably too big for you, but you could try and contact other companies that produce reference material.

Don't sell it as a one off. License it to the company with the source code. A small company might just bite for $400; if you offer them the sole rights for that they will have the same reaction as Dennis.

Best of luck

Stephen Jones
Monday, May 12, 2003

Sorry to say that since you're using IE rendering engine, you cannot compare your offer with Opera which has its own rendering technology.

Still, selling your software to someone else may not be the best to do. The one that will buy it is a techie guy and a techie guy (if not stupid) knows that 80% of what you did can be programmed using VB or Delphi in a few hours.

So I suggest that you redo a study of the market and try to know what people are asking for. If they are willing to buy a new browser, what features do they want? Implement them and publish your app as shareware (again).

Monday, May 12, 2003

I think you should learn from your experience, and go on to write bigger and better programs. Honestly, there are a lot of people out there who could design and implement what you described in less than a day's work. You're probably not going to find anyone who wants to buy the rights to it.

That's OK, though. Because through coding that, your skills have improved (I'm assuming here).  You've also learned about some marketing issues. I suggest that you choose a specific market niche to target. Spend some time making a nicely designed program. Get some real-life testers and give them your app for free. Use them to test all aspects of it. Once you're satisfied that you've got a great application that is in a niche that's not already oversaturated, go ahead and sell it. You'll be able to, then.

Since you've already had experience writing browser code, how about targeting a browser niche? I think there's a market for content control right now. Also  things like logging and caching for big business customers. Finally, you might look into specific UI enhancements. Think about it, almost everyone who uses a computer uses an internet browser. What kind of design can you put into an interface that would make your browser the one people want to use? Think outside the box, create your own look, feel, and style while following common sense interface guidelines.

I hope I've given you something to think about. Most importantly, just don't give up! The code you've written is worth much more to you than it would be to anyone else, purely for what you've taught yourself writing it.

Monday, May 12, 2003

Just a general comment here, but there is a lot to be learned from the the following maxim: first sell it, then design it, then build it.

Now, I realize that is not what a lot of people like to hear, and many salespeople get on the wrong side of programmers by selling things that can't be built, or at least not in the way promised. But when you are working on your own stuff, it's different.

Before you spend your time creating a product, make sure there is someone to buy it- enough someones to justify building it and the cost of selling it, plus some left over for you. If there isn't, move on, unless you just want to code for the hell of it. In that case, hack away :)

Monday, May 12, 2003

give it out as a trial. screenshots. and lower that cost from $400 to $19.95 ... you can get an entire computer with a ton of free apps for $200.

Also, increase the price to $4000 and sell it as an enterprise productivity collaboration community utility system. Make sure there are XML files in there. Also, add some APIs and SDKs that don't do much except getVersion(){}

Monday, May 12, 2003

Michael D, you're approaching the wrong market. Browsers are commodity items.

You would be better finding some big company that wants something developed regarding browsers. They would pay you a lot more than $400.

Monday, May 12, 2003

> I think you should learn from your experience, and
> go on to write bigger and better programs. Honestly,
> there are a lot of people out there who could design
> and implement what you described in less than a
> day's work.

Oh, yeah?

I have 5 years of programming experience (as an employed programmer, not learning time).

I have developed for my employers parts of at least 3 off-the-shelf apps which are sold around the world.

So, don't tell me it's easy to write a good multi-tab browser using IE. IE has a lot of quirks in it.

Unfortunately, like many other programmers, I picked and implemented my own pet project - the one that I wanted to have most.

Well, it turns out that few people also want it.

Such is life! :-)

Michael D.
Monday, May 12, 2003

If you want to sell your source, I can't comment on that

If you want to stick with the shareware route, it is possible to make money selling shareware apps - but in my opinion you need to specialize. You can't compete with the big guys, especially if there stuff is free

Maybe make your browser into a specialist browser for auction lovers, or research scientists, or whatever.

S Tanna
Monday, May 12, 2003

How about giving the tabbed browser application away to attract visitors to your web site. Then develop a new application and presto, you have a steady stream of visitors to promote your new application to.

Matthew Lock
Tuesday, May 13, 2003

If you can't find a buyer, you could open source it on somewhere like, and use it as a marketing tool for your skills.

Or give this version away for free (without source code), and if you establish a large user base you may be able to enhance and sell the next version to a meaningful number of users.

T. Norman
Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Michael D, if it's any consolation, one guy has actually built a nice market with a multi-tab browser, or something like it, but for Pocket PC.

The software business is a bit like that. You just have to keep your eyes open for the niches that need things.

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Six months isn't that long for a shareware app, it isn't costing you anything having it available and it will cost you a great deal of effort to convince someone that they need the source.

So leave it where it is, send out PR to all the usual 'magazine' suspects, make the billing as small and painless for both the buyer and yourself.

If it captures its own adherents then it will trundle along.

Simon Lucy
Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Listen to Stimpy!!! He knows.
I was about to say the same thing as he did.

Sell two versions, one in binary for normal users, another with source. Now. You have to set the _right_ price for both. That means not too much, but equally important, _not too little_. If you sell your source for 400$ people are going to think it's a four-hour hack and they are not going to bother.

And don't sell "exclusive rights". Sell it for unlimited usage (unlimited number of clients, etc) for something like 4000$, but keep the rights. Nobody wants to buy your company, they just want the software.

The binary, sell it as shareware. Make a limited version they can test, and sell the full version for 19.95$.

Regarding features that you could add to make your product more interesting: make it customisable. Make it easy for everyone to have the context menus they want, the keyboard shortcuts they want, etc.

Another thing: is it version 1.0? It shouldn't be. It should be at least version 1.1 or something like this. Nobody buys anything that is version 1.0.

Good luck.

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

inex says: "Honestly, there are a lot of people out there who could design and implement what you described in less than a day's work."

yeah, and if those people wrote Microsoft Word from scratch it would only take them about a week. And they would make the operating system just as a spin-off. In assembler. While talking on the phone.


Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Michael D., can you give us an URL where we can download your software? Testing it will help us give you better advice.

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

If you want to sell this as a going concern you might want to contact the ASP, one of their members might be interested in buying it. The url is:


Tony E
Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Here's a couple of example of specialist browsers that might inspire you if you like this idea

S Tanna
Tuesday, May 13, 2003

>yeah, and if those people wrote
>Microsoft Word from scratch it
>would only take them about a week

I think what you missed is that Micheal D. is taking the Microsoft-IE web-browser control, then "wrapping" it in a VB or VC++ application.  He didn't write ANY of the HTML-to-screen rendering stuff, the JavaScript stuff, etc.

You can find lots of books on how to write this type of browser for 19.99 at amazon.  In fact, you can insert the CD into the drive, copy the code, and have things running in about 30 minutes.  Then all you have to do is figure out how to implement the SPECIFIC features he mentioned.

Depending on how it's done, it might be pretty impressive.  But I think it's a huge strech to say that he "wrote a browser" ...

Or am I reading this wrong?

Matt H.
Tuesday, May 13, 2003

On the topic of paying for stuff that is normally thaought of as commodity or free,  it is possible to sell them. I use iCab, a $29 browser (Mac only). The killer absolutely-must-have willing-to-pay-for features? *It doesn't crash,* is blazingly fast, I can disable popups and I have convenient control over cookies. The cool extras? 'g search-terms' access to search engines, ability to open new windows at the bottom of the window stack, and a smiley face tells me if the web page I am viewing is valid HTML. (Frowney face on 99+% of web sites, by the way.)

Well worth the $29. Amazingly, written by a single guy who is clearly in the top .01% of developers worldwide.

X. J. Scott
Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Matt H: I understood that he didn't "write" the browser but used the ie controls.

However, I wouldn't dismiss that as a "one-day job". It's one thing to get something running, using existing controls, and completely another to fine-tune everything and make it work exactly the way you want it. That takes a lot of time. Dismissing it as a "one-day job" is just insulting to the original programmer, in my humble opinion.

Now of course, I haven't seen the application.

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Mozilla has all the features you mentioned and more. If the Mozilla suite is too heavy for your needs, use Mozilla Firebird, formerly known as Phoenix.

The only opportunity I see would be in IT shops that are hopelessly locked in to IE and could use the extra features.

fool for python
Tuesday, May 13, 2003


Were you addressing me? I wasn't sure...
if you were the reason I prefer iCab over Mozilla is that Mozilla is POKEY slow and crashes all the time. Feature wise it's a nice program of course.

X. J. Scott
Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Um  . . . and what does yours do that doesn't?

Ricardo Mahntoban
Wednesday, May 14, 2003

If Mozilla is too slow, try Firebird. It's much quicker.  And in devloping a no-trivial app on the Mozilla platform, I pound on it quite hard. Couldn't live without the Javascript debugger and DOM inspector.

PYXPCOM rules.

And Hyatt is threatening to add XBL support to Safari.  My like will be complete ;-)

fool for python
Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Well, I wasn't intending to insult anyone. Sorry if that's how it was taken. And Dimitri, I never said that I thought it was a one-day job to fine-tune, work out every last kink, and put the finishing touches on the app. The point was simply that the basic implementation doesn't sound like months of work to me. Likely there's more issues that weren't elaborated on that increased the time to develop  this thing.

Thursday, May 15, 2003

"No, it took about 1 month of full-time work.
I know $ 400 is not much to you, but I live in China and to me, $ 400 is one month's salary. "

You may be selling the wrong thing here.
If you are an accomplished programmer, are you willing to work for $400 a month? That's  about $2.50 an hour, right?

You should be able to get some good remote work for twice that $5.00 an hour.  Suggestion: start with a small sample of work to build trust between you and your customer. (Trus that he'll pay you and trust that you'll write good code)

You seem to be fairly fluent in english (a big plus).

It's easy to fall into the "artist trap", designing something that pleases YOU and expecting someone else to pay for it.  The world doesn't work that way.  What you build must have value to someone ELSE.

I'll echo a previous comment:  Sell, then build. Find out what people want, and then sell it.

What languges do you develop in?
If you're interested in remote work, email me.  I might have something for you.


Clay Nichols
Friday, May 30, 2003

You should just give it away and add in some text ads or something.

John Smirth
Wednesday, March 10, 2004

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