OT:- Why do they do it?

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The recent thread about Morse decoding reminded me of some interesting software that did just that I came across recently. Not only was the software licensed to be used only on one computer, but it was *locked* to a particular computer (one has to choose which computer will run the program when buying the licence).

This is very short sighted IMHO. I would expect most hams, more so those here, to have more than one computer in the shack (I have 4). Locking the software is counter productive, especially for a one man show. One only has to see what has happened to EasyPal* since the dev passed away - luckily it is freeware.

Such restrictive behaviour must be losing sales.

*Rumour has it that the source code was passed on to a couple of people, but nothing definite has been heard.
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DrTeeth

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Posted 3 years ago

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Stu Phillips - K6TU, Elmer

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Losing sales?  I doubt it.

The reality is that hams don't like paying for software - period, end of story.

I don't disagree that your description is of a particularly restrictive license.  But I don't blame the software author and so long as they are clear up front what they are providing you as a license (I suspect I know which decoder you are describing and so I know its very clear), then its entirely an agreement between the buyer and seller.

If the buyer doesn't agree, don't buy it.

If the seller is clear what they are selling, then the question is whether the value proposition to the buyer is worth the price paid together with the restrictions.

I am cherishing the day when FlexRadio begins charging for software updates.  I want a center court seat to observe the wailing, complaining, whining etc from everyone who complains.

Developing software is an expensive proposition.  Maintaining it even more so.

Stu K6TU
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Neal - K3NC, Elmer

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I know of the software you are referencing but there are other ham programs using the same type of license.

I own the CW package you are referencing and all you have to do is ask for more licenses (I have it on 3 computers).

i do agree its got to be murder to administer!

73
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Walt

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I agree, Stu - and I would like Flex to get Ver. 2 out so I can look at the feature list and see if it has what I am looking for.  If so, I will happy to buff up the credit card. 

But I am not interested in WAN, so I hope that there are other features that are worthwhile for my use at the home station.

Cheers
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Chris DL5NAM

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... WAN is not only useful for remote operation. Geo diversity mode for example work only if you have WAN . "the world is not a disk!"
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Mark - WS7M

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There are many reasons a software vendor might "lock" something.  Usually it boils down to not wanting it pirated.

As a professional software developer for many years I have always tried to take a different approach.  I cannot yet confirm that it is better or worse.

I've tried to make my software affordable so the average target user can actually buy it without remorse.  While this works for the vast majority there are some people in this world that just thrive on the thrill of getting something, anything for free even if it is very affordable.

Another tactic I've used is to offer the software at a very good, low price and offer free updates that MUST be installed over the web.  IE you cannot simply download the updates and copy they to your friend.  They don't work that way.   So the guy that pirated can use the older version but cannot update it easily.  Anything is breakable and with enough effort I'm sure they found away but when the software cost $19 then perhaps they just paid the price.  I cannot yet confirm this tactic works either.

But Stu points out a very good point.  Developing quality software is a very expensive and time consuming project.   It often sets the price point higher than I might light because you have to weigh in your target market, estimated sales versus other costs and see if it is even worth bringing it to market.

When Flex goes to a paid software model I will gladly pay the price.  But with any paid software model the expectations go up.  IE people that pay will expect Flex to deliver on certain things.  If they can't do that then they will create a lot of angry customers.  So there are two sides to the paid software coin.
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Walt - KZ1F

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When I did OSNOS and PMNOS they were free. I'd never do that again. There is a huge difference between what works 'good enough' for the developer and what works 'good enough' for the other people using it. If it is free there is, or should be, no expectation it will be anything beyond what it was the day you got it. Yet there always is, regardless.That was also before there were mechanisms to force a purchase. Outside of Apple and Google I am unaware of a mechanism to prevent piracy.
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Neal - K3NC, Elmer

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I am not so convinced the day of doom (when they charge) will actually occur. 

I remember the day that Borland started charging for software support calls. I was visiting Intuit's call center and they were overjoyed because someone else was going to break that bubble and get all the negative feedback. All the other companies followed suit almost immediately.

So, does Flex really want to suffer these slings and arrows? Will others follow, giving Flex some 'cover'? I don't think so.

Is the good will that Flex has today worth 200-300 bucks a year per customer who pays? How will they prevent rogue installers that get traded around from working  properly? License files? Tracking per machine ID?

I personally was in favor of this during the peak of  PowerSDR days but right now I am against it. I think it might slow down the momentum that we see building for the product right now!

73
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AA0KM

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The radio has a serial number so the software will register in flex data base with the radio at hand.

If registered you will get software.

Now cracking a serial code depends on security measures of flex.

windows 10 operates this way. Software will always be available to the hardware that is registered no matter who owns the computer in Microsoft`s  data base.

So if it was paid for it is a done deal.

I don`t see anything happining for bootleg software here.

Paid for once and registered to the radio.

my guess.

(Edited)
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DrTeeth

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I would pay, I would not 'release' it. If FRS can 'do' a SDR with such aplomb, I am sure that they walk the file line between protecting their cash flow and not upsetting their clientele.

@ Neal - the problem with the annual fee is that the point will be reached where one has paid $x for the hardware and $x+1 for the software. I do not think that many would like that especially if it happens very quickly.
(Edited)
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DrTeeth

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Wow...a can of worms opened real wide, hi hi.

I am happy to pay for software. I actually like buying it. I know the type that tries to get stuff for free, they even try it on with dentists too. The trick is not to make people feel ripped off.

If I do not like the price, I will not buy. But a restrictive licence really hacks me off. Can it be so bad for the bottom line to licence per user? If I pay for software I will not give it away. The author of this software says that the software can be trialled on as many machines as one wants but one one must chose the machine at registration time. If he stated that it was licensed per user BUT would be locked to as many PCs as he had, that would be fine. My office aka 'the computer room'  aka 'the shack' is stuffed full of computers, spare parts etc. I chop and change things all the time. I have a strong aversion to any files, codes or registry settings (aka software mods) that are made without my knowledge.

Even MSoft gives one the choice between an OEM version (locked) and a retail version (not locked). A few years ago, I had a retail version of windows 7 that went through at least 7 changes of hardware without any issue. Occasionally I had to phone a free number and validate the install. At least MSoft will not disappear any time soon like a lone developer can.

I also look forward to paying for SSDR v2 to support FRS - but they will have to offer a lot more than WAN to make me part with my money as it has no interest for me at all.

It cannot be easy for a software dev at all and so many factors must come into play for a soind business model - it must be like being a tightrope walker, but walking several 'ropes at once!
(Edited)
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Walt - KZ1F

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I worked with a guy that would, come tax time, bring in bootlegged copies of turbotax and give them away to his friends. His stated rationale, as we were in the software development business, it was OK for us to do it. That made my head hurt. I couldn't tell if he actually believed that or he expected the rest of us would. He did say it with a straight face. 

A rep at Dell once told me MS software sees the machine is a Dell and installs without complaint or product code validation. My understanding also is the deal Dell struck was every machine must include Windows. If you have a Dell, presumably at one point in time it had a licensed copy of Windows. Server class machines can be purchased with a RHEL license.
(Edited)
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Neal - K3NC, Elmer

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When I was visiting with Intuit (see story above) they stated that selling software was not their business model, selling upgrades were. At that time, Quicken was on just about every computer sold and was a free edition so  they had no idea who owned an original copy and didn't care. Amazing how different the business models can be for similar businesses.
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Alex - DH2ID, Elmer

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Could be my words, Guy! We have to accept software as a tool we have to
pay for, if we want upgrades and more functions coming. Software cost still is
a small fraction of the cost of our hardware, anyway.
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Mark - WS7M

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I think this is like the language discussion... You bring up which programming language is best and be prepared for fireworks...

While I am financially able I try to support all software vendors with purchased copies.

I also am not afraid to kind of put pressure on those companies that I think go beyond what is reasonable.  Two cases in point:  SolidWorks and Altium.

As a electrical, mechanical, and software engineer I kind of need all three.  But Solidworks last time I priced a seat was close to $5,000.   Altium was close to $9,500.

I called both reps and pointed out that I could hire a licensed Solidworks person to do my work and probably spend about $1200.  I could similarly find an Altimum designer person and spend about $2,000.  So why should I spend over $14k for the two products.

I got snubbed by both vendors of course and went on to make my product as specified.  A year later a solidworks rep called me and said, gee we see you used solidworks but didn't by a copy... how did you do that?  I said I hired XYX firm.  He said, hum... they don't hold a license to solidworks.  I said, sorry, your problem, not mine.  He asked how much I paid, I told him $1200.  He hung up the phone.  He called back about an hour later and said, how about a seat of Solidwords for $1500?   I said sold only if you throw in 2 years of maintenance free.  He groaned bu said yes.  I'm now on my last year but it has been well worth it.

The Altium deal didn't go so well.  A similar story but the rep was like well if you want to keep using YYY firm then go right ahead.  I then pointed out to him that there were three competing companies each offering similar tools, one for as low as $795.  He then went on about how nothing was as good as Altium and anything less was just substandard, yada yada yada. 

Well I've done two boards with the competing tool and it's working well.  I paid $1895 for it.  I still get calls from Altium asking me to buy... I keep telling them that $9,500 is about 4 projects for me and I was able to buy a perfectly workable tool for $1895.  They just don't get it.

My point to this long and somewhat useless post is back to my original point about price-point.  If a software company puts a price point where it makes sense and offers reasonable support and the product does what I want then I buy it.

If the product tries to run on its name and charge what I consider to be way too much based on the situation then I don't and I've found many ways to get around not owning the product.
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Walt - KZ1F

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You could sign up for a class at a Jr College and get the student pricing.
Your point is valid. This is why they have interlocks between marketing, sales, and development.
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KC2QMA_John

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I Don't mind paying for software up dates, It cost money to develop software.
As far as Smart SDR I don’t plan on updating till it comes much closer in feature set to PowerSDR.

But that's just me.

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Ken - WA8JXM

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I am not willing to pay for updates if they are fixing bugs in the last release.   

I am willing to pay a reasonable fee for good software, I want to encourage the good developers.   OTOH, I am not really willing to pay very much for software that only gets used for a month or two.  And I don't like the Microslop model of forcing upgrades to support their revenue stream.   
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Stu Phillips - K6TU, Elmer

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Really?  So you are still running Windows ME because Microsoft will only fix bugs on Windows 10 and you didn't pay to upgrade to XP, Windows 7 etc?

At some point, ALL software goes end of life and if you want bug fixes, you will have ZERO option but to pay to move forward.

All software has bugs - some affect one person and don't get fixed - so the decision is upgrade or get over it.

What would you prefer?  A world without Microsoft (yea! no more bloody Windows) or a Microsoft that stays in business to provide further development and functionality? Sadly I'll take the latter even though a world with no Gates and no Windows is very appealing ;-)

Its about ECONOMICS and running a business.  Microsoft, Apple, FlexRadio - all the same.

In 5 years you will only be able to "rent" software via subscription.  Anyone left on a perpetual model will be belly up and fertilizing the daisies.

Wake up and smell the coffee folks.

Think I'm wrong?  Software and software companies is the world in which I live - the writing is on the wall in 8 feet high letters.

Sorry - don't mean to be antagonistic - just letting the light of reality seep in.

I guess as all the old Hams go SK, this problem will resolve itself.  The new Hams will already be accustomed to the model.

Sad but true.
Stu K6TU
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Walt - KZ1F

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I totally agree.
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Ken - WA8JXM

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Mostly I stay on an O/S for the life of the hardware.   Most O/S upgrades are such resource hogs that the hardware isn't worth using after an upgrade.  

Yes, I did upgrade this laptop to OS/X 10.4.4 and performance was so terrible, I quit using the machine.   Then I read that a fresh install  was much more efficient than an upgrade, so I did that.  Yes, the performance was much better, but I lost my (backed up) data files in the process!  

If I have to pay hundreds of dollars every year to "rent" software, I definitely will go Linux.  

No, I don't feel I should have to pay for a fix to buggy software.  For example, Flex just did a maintenance release to fix the bugs in the recent release.   Nope, wouldn't pay twice.   

As I said, I am willing to pay for good software but not buggy software.  But I also believe in "if it ain't broke, don't fix it".  New releases for Microslops benefit but not for my benefit do not interest me.   
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DrTeeth

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Let me tell you chaps about a software company. They write the imaging software and partitioning software I use. They only charge for major version updates. Some companies rip off their customers by having a version update every year and DO, therefore, charge for bug fixes. The particular company I have in mind above is Terabytes Unlimited. Their last major version updates were literally years ago (Feb 2007) and bug fixes and new/enhanced features keep on coming. They have been in business for years and they must be doing something right. No locking to hardware (installs allowed on three PCs). Still in business.
(Edited)
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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From the mid.1960's io about 2012 I ran companies that made hardware and software based products It was always very easy to get paid for hardware but customers were reluctant to pay a lot for software . Again it was very easy to get paid for hardware maintenance contracts but again software Maintenance contracts were a hard sell.

Starting in 2000 software products became the major products so we tried to increase their price to cover their true costs. But customers balked at the much higher prices we needed to charge to pay the bills.

One customer suggested that we charge them an annual fee rather than selling them the software at a one time much higher price. The package was $20,000 so we asked for $10,000 annual fee. They said.. Too much.. We said how about $5,000. They said Ok. We went to a second customer.and told them XYZ is paying us $5,000 annual fee...they said too much ...we said how $2,500 ... They said ok.

Within a year every customer was converted to a $2,500 annual fee instead of a $20,000 one time charge. Because of the perceived lower price (annual vs one time) our sales took off. We now had guaranteed recurring annual revenue instead of being dependent on hard to close one time sales. Our cash flow improved dramatically and it became very easy to be able pay our bills.

So why do they do it. Because it costs money to pay staff, rent, utilities and taxes. Nothing is free even though hams expect to be able to freeload
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DrTeeth

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Thanks for the interesting post Howard. My OP was really commenting on the locking to hardware issue and licensing per computer when hams are likely to have more than one so a user licence rather than a per computer licence would be better for sales. 
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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Our rate was $2,500 per seat per annum. Since they needed to access our servers to use our databases, we limited it to one access seat at a time per license. Became very easy to sell multiple seat licenses if they had more than one user.

I suspect the dongle or device restrictions is to prevent hams from stealing.
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Walt - KZ1F

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Yep, that model is more prevalent in software companies since, say late 80s. I suspect it had to do alt with the changes to GAAP and the accounting of revenue from software. For some software, after the contract ends the software still works but San support, others give a 30 day grace then stop.
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Mark - WS7M

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Howard, your story is similar to mine.  In the early 80's when the IBM PC was first out I sat down with 5 other guys and we wrote a Loan Tracking system for the PC.

This came out of my direct experience selling PCs and seeing a number of local banks slurp them up just about as fast as we could get them in.  One of my friends was a loan originator and she told woeful stories about these huge manual logs and how difficult it was to do the weekly allocation, also known as loan commitment reports.

So we locked ourselves in a room for several weeks and came out with a working initial demo of a tracking system that allowed for input of most if not all the needed data, storage to a database (databases that actually worked on the PC were rare) and it produced the allocation report at the press of a button.

I presented it to our company president.  At the time we were doing large company consulting and custom jobs.  He went crazy and the project was officially launched.  Two people on our Board got $$ in the eyes when they say it and began to talk about the selling prices.  The first number thrown out was $50,000.  I practically hit the floor in a faint.

After I recovered I very carefully explained that due to inside information I had learned that most branch managers of the local banks have about a $5,000 signing ability where they can opt to buy/purchase stuff up to that limit without needing corp approval.  I explained that we should price our software below that limit and require (yes require) a yearly maintenance contract. 

I got a lot of resistance of course I lost being nothing more than a lowly programmer at the time.  For 6 months sales were tough and slow.  We sold I think 3.  So I tried again.  Offer new clients the ability to purchase for $4995.00 and a 2500 yearly maintenance for 3 years.

Reluctantly the Board agreed.  The next month we sold 25 and more money came in the house than over the prior six months.   Shortly after that I got a call to dress nice and be available for a meeting on a Friday.  I asked who it was... Sunkist Savings and Loan which at the time had 300+ branches across the US.

They arrived in their own corp Jet.  Used limos to come to our little office.  I gave a 30 minute demo of the software and sat down.

One of the big mucky-mucks reached for a folder from an assistant, pulled out a check for $250,000.00 and pushed it plus an agreement across the table.

We all practically fell over.  The agreement guaranteed an additional $750,000 to be paid over a period of 12 months for a list of 10 software modifications and the availability of one of our people to go to LA weekly to consolidate the data from all the branches.

Unfortunately, I think our software was the demise of that company.  We installed it in all of their branches and began the weekly process of gathering the data (we used FedEx to ship disks initially) and we'd run the allocation report.

It was an all weekend job to pull all that data together and run the report.  The report usually ground away for an hour or so.

We did this for about 5 months then all of a sudden we received a final payment on our contract and a polite letter asking us to terminate the weekly visits to LA.  The next week SK went and shutdown virtually all of their branches.  Not in a nice way either.  The employees arrived to find locked doors and a sign with a number to call.

I had run the final report myself and I remember handing it to the main contact and he really looked bad as he scanned the report.  I found out later that SK had over committed on their loan promises by close to 100 million dollars and many of those commitments were at sub-prime rates.  So they closed up shop.

Anyway the head contact guy told me that the only reason they'd bought our software is he'd seen it at his own personal local bank.  That bank had bought our software when the price went to 4995.

So it proved to me that if you think about your customers and set a price point that makes sense you often do far better than if you try for the sky.