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back to article Pirates: Good for Microsoft, great for open sourcers

Software used to be so easy. You built a product and sold it through a variety of channels. Prospective customers might wonder whether they should buy your product or someone else's, but there was no question that they'd have to buy something if they wanted it. Software was proprietary. You couldn't use it for free. Period. Open …

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FAIL

Timeline fail.

"Software used to be so easy. You built a product and sold it through a variety of channels."

.. And the source came with it! Selling half a product that was by definition unfit for the purpose intended came later.

Wasn't it a closed printer driver or something that got RMS's knickers in a twist in the first place?

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Coat

Are Oracle and SAP going to disappear?

hi,

The fundamental difference between software and other products is the incremental cost of another copy is zero. Open source models of distribution are a great way to attack the high maintenance cost with few improvements from CA. But accountants and auditors do not want financial software from Joe's Garage so the Oracle and SAP will grow. Just like mainframes have not disappeared, large expensive software suites have users which want and need consistency over many years so they are willing to pay heavily for it. The sales people have much better access to upper management than the regular employee causing management to reach for the cheque book in the coat.

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Anonymous Coward

Oracle

Oracle isn't going to disappear of course, but you are mixing up personal computing and enterprise solutions.

I don't know many people who'd install an Oracle DB at home for fun. I'm sure they wouldn't even know what to do with it..

But on the other hand, if you wish to run Oracle, you just need to create a FREE account on OTN, and download it, no questions asked (unless you live in North Korea, Syria, Iran, or another place that has the same kind of relationship with the US) And of course, that you don't use it comercially.

What that means? You're a student, or a developer and wish to learn it, you CAN. For free. And once it is time to run it, your employer buys a license. (An ASFU isn't even expensive)

I remember, as an IT student, we were always getting the latest software (from operating systems to development tools) , some time before their release. Yes it was piracy, but we discovered tools that we still use today, and pay for at work.

Look at Quest Software, to name just one: you can get a free version of TOAD, which is limited both in features and time, but you can renew it, and the features are sufficient for development / schema management tasks... It is just a pain to reinstall every couple of weeks. Well, guess what ? Onde you used it, it becomes the kind of tool you just NEED to have, and you'll make sure your boss forks out the $800 to get you a license.

So, I totally agree with this article, piracy, in the form of leaked copies helps sales. You just to make it a little obscure by the means of cracks, or other convulted activation methods so that the most computer users can't do it by themselves. They will buy it, and in professional environments, companies will buy it too. You just need a large enough percentage of pirated copies so people can see the product in action around them, if they like it, they'll buy it.

As for enterprise networks, I don't think I'd ever want to deploy something on a network if i can't try it beforehand, and justifying the purchase of 5 different programs licenses to do the same thing, just so you can compare them will not really pass if your IT budget is limited.

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I Fully agree

With Everything in that post

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ask around

you'll find that a lot of developers who simply have a "Donate" button are making more money compared to when they sold their software. people are willing to pay for something that's good, it really is that simple.

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@Danny 5

I guess some people will but I'm not so sure how successful an "honesty box" system would be in today's World. I think that if you value your time and you believe you have a decent product then it's best to choose a suitable price and thereby clearly state that you wish to be paid for your wares and your effort otherwise you potentially undermine your value (present or future). I get where you're coming from but I think a vast majority will just use for free.

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Anonymous Coward

Nothing new here

This isn't anything new as far as I see it.

2010 saw a good number of my friends come to me because they wanted to try what I was running, (ubuntu) for themselves. Some of them had the following conclusion...

1) XP is going to die sooner rather than later.

2) They need an operating system that will move forward.

3) Windows 7 is out of the frame because...

a) it is too expensive

b) it is too difficult to pirate

...so they've given Ubuntu a try.

Heck, a very few individuals came to me when that XP advantage thing stuffed up their computers and their XP needed another day spent rebuilding it (again) and that was a few years ago; but Linux wasn't as polished then as it is now.

Microsoft stopping the pirates is shooting themselves and vendors in the foot, because these people did buy the odd piece of cheaper software from various places on the net.

I reckon that there may be mileage in buying time on an OS, just like we do for games. A couple of hundred quid for an OS is just too much for some people in one go; but they need computers to carry on looking for jobs, being social when they can't afford to do anything outside the home, etc.

I know this has been done in the cloud already, but when I explain the concept of rented computing, it just doesn't register as something they want. Not only that, they rightfully point out that they need a working computer in order to use the cloud in the first place.

Joe 1, computer technician 0.

Among the people that I know, Microsoft's crack down on piracy is costing a few developers, somewhere, a very small drop in their drip of app purchases.

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Linux

No. Not really.

Actually, Windows 7 is pretty trivial to pirate. It's easier to pirate than it's immediate predecessors.

If someone came to me thinking otherwise, I would not correct them though.

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Linux

I agree

It makes it much easier to support them.

The separation of the home directory on to its own partition means I can re-install almost any OS version, have all the patches applied and my apt-get script run in less than two hours ... and the majority of their preferences and options are retained. No more spending all day battling with serial numbers and registration codes. Perhaps the occasional changing of repository descriptions to the next version name; that's about it.

Having the separation of user and system also means they don't tend to do any serious damage if they muck up a drag and drop of a folder or something.

At work, the price of Office is bundled in with our enterprise licensing, so there is no cost gain from switching to MS Office to Libre Office; in fact it would cost us for the training exercise.

At home, I was fed up of pirating things. The forever battle of finding those little helper programs that would do the odd stuff that Windows didn't do out of the box.

That ... I don't miss. All those things that were crippled to the degree where you couldn't actually tell whether they were any good or not; and by the time you'd found something, there was an extra pile of unnecessary junk in the registry. - Time to replay the image you hopefully took before embarking on that foolhardy search.

If there is another thing I'll say for Linux is that it scares away a good chunk of those bedroom programmers who turn out bad code put together on rapid development systems. There is a smaller choice of better applications on Linux; many of which are so successful that they go cross-platform anyway.

Plus, when I found Solaris and ZFS ... well ... it was worth the learning curve to use that as a home server (or, rather, OpenIndiana now) - I just wish I had more money to throw the way of these developers ... Linux has just made my computing life so much easier than Windows did, now that I'm through the basic learning curves. With the exception of games and the mobile phone support software, of course.

The number of days I'd spend in a year, just rebuilding an MS PC or server and loading and configuring all those small, useful applications; going through all the preferences and options, setting things up as I wanted them.

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Alert

"This copy of windows is not genuine"

If you copy W7 it goes into lockdown mode, but this mode doesn't do anything save for whinge at you and change the desktop background. It allows updates and pretty much everything else.

This is MS's recommended strategy for training companies as they don't want 'live' corporate serial numbers to be used (apparently it's too easy for students to run an app to lift the serial number).

Kind of like MS tacitly accept piracy for exactly the reasons outlined in the article and they reserve the right to change this at a later date (they've got to wean people off of XP somehow:-O)

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Blah...

"Gone are the days when customers will pay for software just because there's a proprietary wrapper on it and a big price tag. They increasingly demand real value for real money. "

Yup. Big time. $600 for MS Office, blah...

This also applies to music and movies. Falling sales figures in DVD's and CD's are not because of piracy. It is because of the tripe they are flogging on shiny discs.

I think this is why tribute bands are so popular today. Today's insta-pop singers who have marketing committees writing lyrics for them are rubbish for the most part.

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$600??? Seriously??

If you're complaining about having to pay $600 for MS Office, then you've either bought the wrong version and/or you're not a "power" user and/or you only use it very occasionally.

Microsoft offer cheaper versions of office for those who don't need the commercial features.

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Anonymous Coward

Er Yeh !

That's what it cost you a couple of years ago.

If you don't need the commercial features OO or LO is good enough.

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One more beatiing for the dead horse...

The Punch 'em response is an interesting view that has been ezpressed before. I could cite Janis Ian at her website:

http://www.janisian.com/freedownloads.php

'Yes, free music (as in "Free Beer"!) in the spirit of the landmark article. "The Internet Debacle" Go ahead, download, listen! We promise not to sue you.*

Below you'll find links to download selected tracks, along with the discography links for the album they come from. Yes, we know these are not super hi-fidelity MP3s...the idea is that you'll like these so much that you can't help but go to our Shopping Mall and buy the album or make a donation to the Pearl Foundation.

*Disclaimer from our legal department. We don't exactly promise not to sue you, but you have to do something really bad, unrelated to downloading our music from our web site, to get that sort of attention. Even then, we probably won't even bring up the whole "downloading" thing unless you really irritate us.'

Or, from even longer ago, Eric Flint at Baen books in respect of the Baen free library (yes, they put whole books, lots of books, up for free download). Not quoted in full (for length):

http://www.baen.com/library/

'Baen Books is now making available — for free — a number of its titles in electronic format. We're calling it the Baen Free Library. Anyone who wishes can read these titles online'

.

.

'I will make no bones about it (and Jim, were he writing this, would be gleefully sucking out the marrow). We expect this Baen Free Library to make us money by selling books.'

.

.

'In short, rather than worrying about online piracy — much less tying ourselves and society into knots trying to shackle everything — it just makes more sense, from a commercial as well as principled point of view — to "steal from the stealers. "

Don't bother robbing me, twit. I will cheerfully put up the stuff for free myself. Because I am quite confident that any "losses" I sustain will be more than made up for by the expansion in the size of my audience.

For me to worry about piracy would be like a singer in a piano bar worrying that someone might be taping the performance in order to produce a pirate recording. Just like they did to Maria Callas!'

.

.

'The only time that mass scale petty thievery becomes a problem is when the perception spreads, among broad layers of the population, that a given product is priced artificially high due to monopolistic practices and/or draconian legislation designed to protect those practices. But so long as the "gap" between the price of a legal product and a stolen one remains both small and, in the eyes of most people, a legitimate cost rather than gouging, 99% of them will prefer the legal product.'

The last time I checked, Baen were still in very busy business. The last time I checked, authors were most definitely _not_ running away from them in droves because they dared to offer stuff for free. The last time I checked they were just as hard to get published by as everybody else because they had just as many people bringing them new material (OK - so they didn't take mine. I'm not bitter :-P).

OK. Everybody stopped reading about ten pages back. I'll shut up now... :-).

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Baen work at it...

Baen Books is a pretty determined operation, and they've been working the internet hard as a publicity source. Free books, and free sample of books, as well as a paid-for ebook service. They include CD-ROMs with hardbacks, giving you ebook versions of a whole series with the new novel.

I have a substantial stack of printed versions.

And, you know, publishers have always had people giving away their products, letting them be read for free. These heinous criminal have a special name: "librarians".

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Baen - and work.

And for me, the point is they, rather long ago, took a good hard look at what was happening, took a purely business decision, and made it work for them.

Can anybody do it in any industry? Maybe not. But maybe they can as well. However, if you (yes, I'm looking at you, music industry) decide at the very beginning that X is bad and never shift, you miss the chance to make X work for you.

Baen didn't miss it.

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Anonymous Coward

Err...

The author doesn't seem to understand the difference between Open Source and Free Open Source, there are many software products, particularly older mini and mainframe based, but also unix and Windows based, where you get the code you can modify it, but you have to pay to operate it and may not redistribute.

As for piracy being good for FOSS: Piracy is very definitely bad for FOSS, do you think that someone who pirates a copy of an MS OS is going to be running Linux? How does the GIMP benefit from someone pirating Photoshop? No, piracy is just as bad for FOSS as it is for COTS, possibly worse, because at least there is a chance that someone pirating photoshop will be training themselves for their day job where they use photoshop.

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Pint

Published Source

Has been around for years. This is where you get the source code for your product when you buy it. You can make changes but you can't sell them on.

For those of us who have been in the IT biz long enough, back in the 1970's if you bought a PDP-11 Minicomputer you gor a full set of schematics and various bits of source code including the diagnostic programs. The schematics were great. They allowed us to fault find down to chip level. It also made desiging out own hardware a lot easier.

You could also buy the source code (it was a procebook line item) to Operating Systems like RSX-11/M. This one came on a reel of 2400bpi magnetic tape.

Things were a lot more open in those days.

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Best product wins ,,,

>> How does the <FOSS> benefit from someone pirating <COTS>?

Why should it? Why does FOSS have a divine right to do better, or not, because of a different business model being "free as in beer"?

The outside world _does not care_ about having source code or "free as in speech". I have friends who are just office workers or graphic designers. They wouldn't know how to recompile OpenOffice or GIMP if the bug jumped up in front of them and said "fix me". For a typical company of less than 50 employees, the whole "free as in speech" argument is utter crap as they don't employ coders, and all you are left with to compete in the market is "free as in beer".

Most companies want their workers to go to work, do the job "good enough" in as little time as possible. They will choose the tool which does that, at the price they can afford. If all tools are "free as in beer" whether due to piracy, licensing model, or FOSS, then it should turn into a tool meritocracy.

People get choice - this can only be a good thing. If FOSS feels threatened by COTS ending up as "free as in beer" then hopefully it means FOSS gets is head out of this "we are better because we are free as in speech" cloud, and actually focussed on producing better products. Indeed, there are many FOSS products which are just as bloat ridden and buggy as their COTS equivalent, and being honest could do with some competition.

Any competition in a market is good - it will keep total cost down and improve the products. The fact that so much COTS software is dropping in price is an indication that FOSS is having an impact, but that means that it also means that it can no longer compete only on large price differential.

I call this a coming of age present - it's time for FOSS to grow up and stop beign the bratty anarchist in the corner yelling about freedom, and getting on with making better products. It is steadily learning to do this - we will see whether it can sustain it.

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MS is/was the world's biggest benificary of SW piracy

For years MS killed off their opposition by making sure that the primary competitor to a legit copy of Office was a stolen copy of Office. Only when there the likes of Word Perfect were dead did they do anything to make it more difficult to just copy someone elses/the offices CDs and put them on to home PCs.

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Boffin

The classic article for how Microsoft encourages and benefits from so-called «piracy»

is this one (http://autotelic.com/windows_is_free), which deals with the matter in great deal (note that today's open-source software has made great strides since 2007, when this article was first published). The latest development in this soap opera was the promise given by the Chinese side during Hu Jintao's state visit to Washington that the Chinese government would make sure that only licensed copies of software would be used in government offices. Why not instead go over to open source and save thousands of millions in licensing costs ? My guess is that this is the result of a political calculation : given the political clout the US software industry has with that country's government, it's worth paying the extra money to keep that industry on one's side. Money, as we know, buys influence....

Henri

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Open Source is a Disruptive model

Look at RMS' lifestyle - doesn't own a house, doesn't own a car, and doesn't give a stuff about programmers getting paid for their work. Open Source disrupts the professional software development model. It is a very cleverly designed scorched earth strategy. It is not a strategy that will ever provide a comfortable middle class income for programmers.

The eventual outcome of the Open Source Is Paid For By Support model is that support will be provided by the cheapest IT professionals. That isn't Americans with exorbitant college debts. IBM and RedHat are already moving open source programming work offshore to places where the income from programming tasks is more aligned with the revenue that open source software generates.

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FAIL

Cry me a river

Why do you think someone deserves to get paid *just* for writing a program?

There isn't a lot of money to be made catching and importing shellfish to make purple dye anymore either, since the invention of artificial mauve. Adapt or perish!

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SaaS? It depends . . .

... on the criticality of the app and the data.

If my business DEPENDS on the ability to quickly produce and access word-processing documents, my business would be hosed if any of the following happened:

* New version of SaaS WordPro removes a feature critical to fast production of documents, in the way WE work (vs a workaround requiring five more keystrokes each time one accesses the feature);

* New version of SaaS WordPro changes the underlying file format, and "automatically" converts old-style documents before accessing them (and the secretaries wait, and wait...);

* SaaS WordPro becomes unavailable due to a fat-fingered sysadmin at WordPro Corp, or due to Joe Backhoe taking out the company's Internet.

In a corporate environment, using clouds, VMs, and SaaS OUTSIDE of the corporation's facilities increases risk to the corporation; when things break, the corporation has no way of fixing it themselves, and they become (too) dependent on the service providers.

Data residence and security is a separate and troublesome ball of wax.

As a home user, I 'd appreciate some of that SaaS stuff. I'm tired of manually updating my PCs, but I don't have so many that it would be worth the trouble of "infrastructurizing" them.

I'd like to go click-click and be able to use the latest version of GIMP from any of my PCs, without updating/installing, provided my data STAYED LOCAL. Likewise for other applications.

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Re: SaaS? It depends . . .

Hi An_Old_Dog. What you miss is that if you work for a large enough company that all of those bad things that you list can also happen on your "standard operating environment" corporate computer. In fact it is more likely to happen, since the corporate IT isn't going to hold back their Windows 7 deployment just for you, but most of the "cloud" services I've used have had a "use old version" button on the screen after an upgrade.

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Also with SaaS

You keep on paying, every month or per use of the application, instead of a once-off payment and you get to use the application forever.

This, and your reasons given, are why I've never supported the idea, along with the concept of "cloud computing". If it's not under my control, I'm not interested.

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Anonymous Coward

try before you buy

I'm 100% in agreement with this article.

Often, Before trying to get my manager to buy some software that i think i might need i will try it out by means of a pirated copy, if it meets my requirements then i'll go ahead and get him to buy it.

If on the other hand it turns out to be crap then we dont buy it.

The fact that i have to resort to piracy to be able to find out if a product meets my requirements is silly but effective and absolutely forced on me buy the software vendors.

Too many times have i bought some software and found out that the extra features promised do not work.

My experiences with paid software have driven me to open source software.

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Fundamental difference?

"The fundamental difference between software and other products is the incremental cost of another copy is zero."

Not really. The incremental cost is negligible but that's the same for music, drugs, newspapers etc. Even with something expensive like a car the not inconsiderable up-front development costs have to be shared by customers over the product's lifetime. The difference is that cars are a bit harder to pirate.

However, the essential point is that illicit copying leads to more sales. I know. I've tried out software that I didn't come by in an entirely legal way, but when I've adopted it for regular use I've gone back and bought the legit item. On the other hand I'm not going to fall for a "30 day free trial" which will render any output useless unless I buy the full licence. Moreover, 95% of the problems I've had with purchased software have revolved around authentication and copy protection. Those sorts of problems must create an extra workload on the suppliers or developers which has nothing to do with the functionality of the product and does nothing to enhance its value.

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LDS
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Thumb Down

Open source means less choice

Face it: open source means less choice. Because or you get the same product in several sauces (i.e. Linux), or you get only those products made by companies big enough to have large revenues from some other products (i.e. Oracle, IBM), or you get software useful only for its creators and supporters, and whose plans don't take a larger market into account (i.e. Postgres). Companies who are able to deliver good products with a good market target but need to get revenues from them to survive simply risk to be wiped out from the market because they find very few willingly to pay for them. And even some "successful" open source product are not able to generate enough renevues alone, and end up to be part of one of the groups above (i.e. MySQL). Thereby pray commercial software stays well and alive, or you will get a much boring market, also far less attractive for young programmers.

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Megaphone

so?

what's wrong with having less choice when it is all the crappy choices that have gone?

If no one wants to pay for your software, that's a reflection on you and your crap software (or crap business model) - not a reflection on "everybody else stealingz da softwarez"

People seem to act as if their intellectual property has some innate value and that they should be paid a living for it; and if they don't get that money handed to them on a platter then it's everyone else's fault. Somebody else stole my product, somebody else didn't advertise my product well enough, my users aren't smart enough to understand how great me and my product are, somebody else made a cheaper product just to spite me wah wah wah. Nothing is ever their fault.

It's exactly the kind of thing you hear from people like Opera. And who uses Opera? No one. Not because Opera is bad, but because we have a strong aversion to people who won't stop bitching about how much of a victim they are. There are people walking around dying of cancer who bitch less.

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Not quite impartial enough for me.

"Gone are the days when customers will pay for software just because there's a proprietary wrapper on it and a big price tag... There are those that 'get it.' Those that don't won't matter for very long."

Not to sound like a troll, but what utter, utter impartial tosh Matt! I can only surmise that your position is somewhat biased, sitting squarely on the open side of the fence as you appear to do.

During the past 15 years working on projects for quite an array of national and multi-national corporations in the finance and leisure sectors (FTSE 100 and Fortune 500 companies for example) and on projects that hande in excess of $8bn of trades daily (in this case for a company that handles over 100 times that volume a day - yes, those numbers are real and are correct!), I have yet to see much evidence supporting your "Gone are the days..." statement . Quite the contrary in fact.

About 60% of the larger projects I have been involved in during the last 10 years have sat firmly on the 'closed' side of the fence and there is no movement to change that position on these projects, as far as I can see.

I can say without any uncertainty and doubt, that customers, big customers, are still willing to pay a large price tag for a 'proprietary wrapper'. I can go even futher and say, again without and uncertainty and doubt, that the companies to which I am referring plan to continue with heavy investment in these projects, where open source is - perhaps surprisingly - not even part of the equation.

Now, that's not to say that your statement is not correct in some circles, however from my experience it holds only in some circles, and some of those circle where it doesn't hold are pretty darned large circles!

Personally, I see good and bad in both open and closed source on a daily basis. In my opinion open souce will not and cannot save the world, nor can it turn water into wine. On the flip side, closed is not always evil. There's good and bad in both IMHO.

Me? I prefer to sit on the fence in the open vs closed debate and instead go where the most money is for me at any given time. It has surprised me I have to admit, but the last 12 months I have seen a not insubstantial increase in workload and revenue from working on 'proprietary wrappers' for projects with a big price tag. Quite the opposite to your assertion.

Based on my experience, your article is somewhat myopic, flawed and far from impartial. Maybe, because I choose to prostitute my skills where the money is, this makes me 'evil'? ;o)

I do hoever believe that pricacy has server Microsft well over the years, but this is not a new idea.

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FAIL

Reduce piracy by reducing confusion

MS and the likes have far too many licensing methods, product variations and pricing schemes.

Take Windows Server for example - There's so many variations with different conditions. And that's before you start working on correctly licensing the access to the server.

Make it one version (Windows Server) with no client access licensing, and far more people wouldn't be left confused or incorrectly licensed.

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Free software sells hardware

Years ago I worked for a hardware manufacturer and we gave away the software that was used to operate the hardware they sold. Since we weren't the only one that sold the same hardware you could use our software on a competitors version of the hardware. However since there wasn't that much of a difference in the retail price of the hardware, the advantage to purchasing ours verses the competitors was the fact that support and shipped updates for the first year were included. We even had a black market competitor modify the interface of our software to look different. The software actually because one of the main selling points for the hardware. And we had customers that wanted the older version even when newer software was available for the hardware, much to the hatred of the sales and marketing department, because of its ease of use and reliability in doing the tasks most people wanted.

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Megaphone

Let us Get Rid of the Term 'Piracy'

I may be chasing an old idea (and lost cause) here, but all the same: Let us get rid of the term 'Piracy' once and for all.

Piracy means attacking (a ship) to steal from it (or hold people at ransom ...or both). Apart from piracy's previous maritime only connection, attack implies violence, which is not (normally, at least) the case in illegal copying of software. Steal implies taking something without permission, thereby depriving the previous owner of whatever is stolen -- even when used in a more metaphorical sense, like 'stealing the moment'. Illegal copying does not deprive the previous owner of whatever is copied.

I am not writing this to support illegal copying and I am not saying that illegal copying does not indirectly deprive the original owner of money in lost earnings ... and I have no better alternative to the term either, but I find the original implication of violence and deprivation misleading (and wrong, really), and fear it keeps sidetracking the real issues of illegal copying.

OK, I will take my soapbox and leave the scene for now.

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FAIL

Same old same old

This argument has been around as long as piracy has; if you have nothing new to add to it, why are you repeating it?

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Anonymous Coward

I'm one of the converted

In the past I've acquired software by other means that normal channels, until 3yrs ago I had never purchased an operating system that wasn't included with an off the shelf PC purchase (which I hadn't done since the late 90's).

But then for some reason I built a new and rather powerful system for myself in 2008 and decided to purchase a copy of Vista... don't laugh, once you get past the problems it's actually quite stable and good.

When I built my HTPC in early 2010 and when upgraded my system at the end of 2010 and also when I built a system for my friends... I purchased legit copies of Windows 7.

So I've been converted into a buyer.

It's similar with games, until 2009 I had never used Steam, but now I find myself purchasing a lot of those older games I would acquire elsewhere because they are priced as budget games.

The simple fact is, if you make a product that's good and that I like... I'll pay for it... eventually. :)

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J 3
Headmaster

Piracy increased Punch Em sales?

Maybe. There is a correlation there, sure. And it's not an implausible mechanism, of course.

But as we all know (?), correlation is not causation. Besides the coincidence of start of increases, I don't recall seeing anything in the app author's blog post to suggest it was piracy the cause of the increase in sales. He does not mention whether he had removed the anti-piracy mechanism exactly for that version where the increase started -- if that's the case, that would have given his hypothesis a little bit more support, I believe. Why not believe the opposite, equally plausible scenario given the data there that sales lead to more piracy?

Specially around the holiday season, we see lots of lists and recommendations of apps all over the place on line. Is the app's author sure no one has mentioned his app in a publication of some type (article, popular blog post, whatever) around Dec 19 or 20 or so, leading to the increase in BOTH piracy and sales, at the same time, exactly as seen in his graph? Knowing when his app lost the anti-piracy protection would help supporting the conclusion that piracy increased at that exact moment because of the removal of the protection, and not because of more app visibility. And once the app got more visible, network effect would kick in and keep it up.

If piracy was leading to more sales, I would expect a lag between the start of increased piracy and the start in increased sales. Some time between the pirates getting the app, and their more honest friends seeing it, liking it, and finally buying it. Or isn't that a reasonable expectation? Do people immediately get to know what the pirates are doing and follow suit? The graph is a bit botched there and makes interpretation of the critical period (where increase happened, between Dec 20 and 30) difficult, in that it is in a different x-axis scale and there is no data there between D20 and D31, as Amitay describes. But the line did get connected between Dec 20 and 31 anyway (not good), giving the impression of a stronger spike than it actually was (every other period of time in the x-axis is 2 days instead of 10).

So, while Amitay's data is partially consistent with the hypothesis of piracy leading to doubled sales, it is very far from proving anything.

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Bronze badge
Stop

Everyone wins?

"Nor is this developer alone in discovering the value of piracy to increasing sales. Microsoft has long allowed rampant piracy of its software in places like China. Why? For one thing, it's a great way to keep users from trying alternatives like Linux. For another, a pirate today can be converted into a paying customer tomorrow, or perhaps helps to create a network effect great enough that fence-sitters who aren't pirates end up paying for Microsoft products.

Everyone wins."

BZZZTT!!!!! wrong... Linux doesn't win because it is being denied a fair chance at the customer

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to a certain extent they are right about piracy and sales.

when i was poor, just out of college, i downloaded lots of divx movies. over the years as my pay increased i bought more and more and downloaded less and less. i havent downloaded a movie in about 10 years now and i buy all my media

its the same with things like photoshop. how is someone at college going to afford photoshop? they get a pirate version and learn to use it. then when they get a job they request the employer to buy an adobe suite and thats where adobe gets its stupid amounts of cash. same with MS Office, we learn on pirate verions, so at work we know how to use it. if people were forced to buy at home they would all be used to openoffice and MS Office would crash and burn.

its a similar thing with games, play a pirate version, if you like it buy the full version to play online.

i spend thousands on media every year so they definately benefit from me having downloaded stuff in the past.

also, you have to take into account that lots of people download because they can. often they would not have even considered buying that material in the first place. but studios take that as a loss in sales.

i go by the old addage, if you like it, buy it. i dont mind supporting film makers i like or game houses that create quality software.

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Pirate

Piracy not good for MS Competitors

If Windows and Office weren't so easy to pirate, Microsoft would never have achieved the market penetration they have.

Suppose for a second that piracy was non-existent. Given the choice between paying £500 for a legit copy of MS Office or paying £50 for a legit copy of Cheapo Office 2011 (which does an admirable job of typing letters, organising CD collections and keeping track of bank balances), most punters out there are going to elect to save £450. If and when those users get jobs, they will already be familiar with a non-Microsoft alternative to MS Office, and might even persuade their new employer to purchase it in preference to upgrading all their MS Office licences.

But in the real world, piracy is rampant. The average punter is writing letters, organising their CD collection and keeping track of their bank balance using a pirate copy of the latest version of MS Office; and if and when they get a job, that is what their new employer will use because the general public already have (some kind of) experience of it. (Not even very good experience; I've seen documents laid out using spaces for formatting, and people adding up columns in spreadsheets using a calculator and then typing in the total.)

This means nobody could earn £50 selling an inexpensive office suite, because they would effectively be competing with a £0 office suite. And while piracy was what killed the £50 office suite, nobody ever had to make a single pirate copy of it.

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