Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board

Piracy can be good?

Do you think that software piracy can be a good marketing tactic? Just think for a moment, if Microsoft takes some serious measures to eliminate piracy from within the third world, they would all simply move to cheap "alternatives". Most popular software was popularized by pirates. Plus, I went through this article:

But that doesn't mean piracy can be good for smaller software companies.

Green Pajamas
Saturday, June 5, 2004


Option 1:  India pirates Windows (as they are doing, according to a customer, from India, that I have).
Microsoft makes $0.00

Option2:  Microsoft prevents pirating and sells a little bit of Windows.  Pirates switch to Linux.

Microsoft Makes > $.00

I would think that SOME money is better than NONE.

And I don't think that widespread adoption of Windows by pirates is going to reinforce the Windows monoloply as a desktop O/S.

Mr. Analogy
Saturday, June 5, 2004

Software piracy is a disaster for the smaller software companies.

Take a look at what happens in countries where piracy is the norm among home users. You get Office for $3 so you don't buy Claris Works, or Lotus Millenium or Word Perfect Suite. You get Photoshop so why bother with Paint Shop Pro. Forget the home architect programs, off you go with Autocad to plan your kitchen extension (I've actually seen that happen).

Then the best comes. Microsoft and Adobe announce that they are the most hit by piracy and that they are being robbed of tens of millions when if there was no piracy nearly all the money would go to their cheaper rivals.

Back in the mid-80s I worked as a translator for a small advertising agency. The amount of money a company had to spend to send out free samples was incredible. Yet Microsoft and Adobe get all these campaigns for free, and on top of it can play the moral high ground and get their distributors branded as criminals.

Microsoft wait until piracy has wiped their rivals out of the market, and then demand that the governments tighten up their act. Somebody once asked an top exec at MS if he would prefer people pirated Corel or Lotus or Apple instead of Windows. The look of horror on his face said all.

Stephen Jones
Saturday, June 5, 2004

I understand the point of the first person. Let's say you have someone who can't afford MS Office and pirates it. This piracy perpetuates MS Office as THE preferred platform to do business on, and you know that even if you do business with a third world country, that's the file format you should use, so you buy MS Office.
Saturday, June 5, 2004

"I would think that SOME money is better than NONE."

Maybe, but the cost of enforcing against piracy in such countries is probably much greater than the small increase in sales that would result from that enforcement.  So if they're not getting your money anyway, they'd prefer you to choose their own software to pirate rather than increasing the market share of their cheaper competitors.

T. Norman
Saturday, June 5, 2004

Apparently piracy is one of Microsoft's most effective weapons against Linux.

Lots of organisations in developing nations aren't interested in Linux simply because Windows is better and is the same price.

This actually makes me wonder why open sourcers make such a fuss about developing countries.

Saturday, June 5, 2004

Because its a infant battle ground. Get in good at the ground floor, and make the work easier for yourself.

anon-y-mous cow-ard
Saturday, June 5, 2004

There was a marketing mantra in the 80's that Visicalc became what it was because of piracy, because it was pirated it became ubiquitous.

Whether this was true or not it could only have been true when the distribution of pirated products was hand to hand, largely on floppies.

Once piracy reached bulletin boards, and then the Internet the means of distribution can overwhelm the publisher.

This is even more true in music than in software, with CDs pulled before release because a pirate, leaked copy go onto the net before release date.

Simon Lucy
Sunday, June 6, 2004

The only way I see piracy having a positive side to a company is in the way it gives you "maketshare". Aside from the fact that getting marketshare without getting a revenue from it was thoroughly discredited during the .bust, the last thing MS in the current distorted "antitrust" happy climate is get more marketshare without extra profits.

Just me (Sir to you)
Monday, June 7, 2004

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home