Archive for the 'business' Category

Store & final beta

Thursday, December 7th, 2006

It looks like the next beta will be the last, so get your bug reports in! :-)

Those of you who reported bugs will be getting trial licenses to test the premium features soon. I’m building a license management tool to help me process orders quickly and to test it I’ll send you the licenses using it.

I promised that during the beta trial period the purchase price would be lower. Setting up a shop is taking orders of magnitude longer than I anticipated: resellers answer questions slowly if at all. Many of them expect a license key, not the license file I’ve implemented.

Intel Mac, encryption and beta delay

Thursday, November 16th, 2006

I finally received my Intel Mac, and was able to test Find It! Keep It! on an Intel Mac. It works fine under Rosetta, which is very encouraging. A previous test failed badly. Apple’s fixes in 10.4.8 must have done the trick…

The beta was ready to go out on Monday, but before letting it out I was given the advice to add some form of protection. Apparently piracy of Mac shareware is a thriving industry: Spending less that 10 minutes searching, I found licenses to every piece of shareware I know!

Wil Shipley doesn’t believe it’s a big deal, as pirates would not buy in the first place, but could be the software’s loudest advocates. To some extent, I agree with him.

On the other hand, Colin Messitt makes a very convincing case that unprotected software does not sell well. Having spent a year and my savings working on this tool I cannot afford to lose 4/5ths of my customers.

So… I’ve been adding encryption and registration code to Find It! Keep It!. Many simple solutions violate people’s privacy or are annoying. For instance, I could tie each license to a single machine. But then, people could not upgrade easily. But doing it right takes time… Once this hurdle is over, I’ll release Find It! Keep It!.

Beta news, and more downsides to spam

Wednesday, October 25th, 2006

Thanks to Ben Stanfield of MacSlash, many beta testers have signed up to Find It! Keep It!. Now I just need to get the last known bugs fixed.

Spam is one of the most irritating inventions ever. Currently I get 60 a day! Google Mail is really good at finding them. Unfortunately, other mail services aren’t, so that some of my messages to people signing up are rejected… Yet another way in which spam has a real detrimental effect!

If you didn’t get a message from me, and did sign up yesterday or earlier, please search your spam tray for “Ansemond” or set your spam filters to accept messages from You can check your status in the mailing lists. If you signed up for a beta, you should be signed up for the Beta newsletter.

My dream app or my nightmare app?

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2006

Like other independent software developers I’ve been following My Dream App with interest. It’s a purple cow: remarkable because it is different, allowing users to define the application they would like.

While the competition is a purple cow, I’m not sure that the offspring will also be purple: the final choice of the application resides with the participants rather than with the developers. Seth points out that remarkable products don’t survive focus-groups or committees. So, what’s in it for the developers? Writing a great application takes time, dedication and passion, which only occur if the developer is truly sold on its idea. If the result is lackluster, it will not compensate the developers for their time…

However the experiment is definitely worth watching: it goes against the received wisdom that users define the functionality they need but not the form the solution will take. For instance, Steve Jobs said “It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them”. Joel (on Software) said ” Customers Don’t Know What They Want. Stop Expecting Customers to Know What They Want”. Steve McConnell says in Rapid Development that users don’t know what they want. Will the developers implement what the winners say they want? or change the ideas to be their own?

The only other comment I’d make is that I’ve had many of the ideas presented on the Dream App forum. Unsurprising I guess, given how many of them turn out to have already been implemented. Perhaps I need to come up with a “cool winning idea” of my own: I need an Intel Mac Book on which to test Find It Keep It ! :-)

Is the price right?

Saturday, August 19th, 2006

One of the things small developers wrestle with is: what price is right?

There are two radically different answers:

  • What price can I afford to sell it at?
  • What price will my users pay for it?

The first question is a function of the software. To survive, I must recoup the cost of making the software and the cost of supporting the software. Therefore the software should be priced above these costs divided by the number of copies I sell. The problem is I don’t know how many copies I will sell.

The second question is whether people need the software: does it become so entrenched in their way of doing things that without it their computer is broken? At that point, the competition’s price is irrelevant. They’ve found a solution to their problem, is the pain of paying me less that the anticipated pleasure the software will provide.

Although the first question should matter to a user, it usually doesn’t. On the Atari ST I was an early adopter, avid user and evangelist of TurboAssembler. I often thought about sending money for it, even though it was expensive for a 14 year old, but I never got around to it because my copy just worked… There was nothing to fix.

My second answer contradicts Paul Graham’s start-up article, and his recent analysis of kiko’s troubles. I believe a free competitor is only of concern if it gives your users more satisfaction than your own product (part of the satisfaction may be having gotten it for free). But then, you were in trouble anyway…