If only…

Joshua Gans praises the iTunes App Store model, and it inspired me to do the same.

I’m with Mr Gans – never before have I bought so much software. The low cost and ease of use means games and whatnot have become an impulse purchase a lot of the time. That mental shrug of “Why not?”, so familiar to the grocery shopper looking at the chocolate bars arranged so temptingly around the checkout, has meant I have accumulated dozens of apps I rarely if ever use, but thought would be neat to have, or worth the money even if I only used them for a short while or infrequently.

I wish big pieces of software came in such easily digestible chunks. Imagine Adobe or Microsoft products not costing a day’s or week’s pay for the lot, but rather having all the various functions available as multiple tiny upgrades to a base program. That way I could have exactly the functionality that I wanted for less, and the companies would make more per component than the giant bundles of services that are today’s CS4 or Office.

Are you listening, software behemoths?

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4 Responses to If only…

  1. TerjeP (say tay-a) says:

    Your approach makes sense for sales to individual consumers in some instances, but not so much when it comes to sales to business customers. If we look at theme parks such as Disney Land or Seaworld we also see that the trend has been entirely towards a larger up front entry fee and away from the pay per ride model. I think the Microsoft empire has a lot of parallels with the Disney empire both in terms of how it buys and aggregates talent and in how it packages it’s offering.

    And if you want a cheaper wordprocessor and spreedsheet platform then try open office which is entirely free.

    Having said all that I do think micropayment systems will see growth. In particular I’m eagerly waiting for e-gold to get up and running again.

  2. Legal Eagle says:

    I love the idea of getting apps piecemeal – that way you’d only get the ones you want. I’ve never used Microsoft InfoPath, for example; a waste of computer space.

  3. CFQ says:

    I’d like to extend that idea to pay TV. I could be tempted to get it if only I didn’t have to buy a whole bunch of channels I don’t want to get the few I do.

  4. Jarrah says:

    Terje, I don’t think the parallels are as close as you do. A theme park doesn’t want unpopular rides not making any money because they aren’t easily replaced, and they don’t want to leave the physical space empty. Software companies don’t have those same limitations.

    In fact, they do ‘unbundle’ to a certain extent. Take Office – you can get Standard, Professional, Student, Small Business versions. Adobe likewise. I just wish they’d go the whole hog.

    And it might be a way for them to compete with the growing open-source movement, and Google’s web-based applications – give away the stripped-down versions of Word, Excel, Photoshop, whatever, and charge for upgrades.

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