Archive | February, 2012

Software piracy – are we all thieves?

20 Feb

I’ll start by saying yes. Most of us. But it’s not really our fault.

First of all, for all you bleeding hearts out there, do you really want to tell me you never used a pirated copy of a software because paying 50$ for a single use seemed way too much? You never downloaded an MP3 of a song you really liked because you didn’t want to pay for the whole CD? Downloaded the episode you missed of your favorite series? Or maybe just jail braked your iPhone/iPad/PS/Wii…? You probably see where I’m going with it. We’ve all been there. And yeah, this makes us thieves. While we’re paying for anything that we can feel, somehow it looks OK for us to steal something that’s virtual but maybe took much more time and effort to produce than the tangible goods we’re used to buy.

I say it’s not our fault. If you don’t mind I’ll focus on the software industry but it’s the same in the music industry, movies industry, mobile apps, etc.

For years now software publishers have made everything they can to keep us away from paying them. Long registration forms, giving away our payment credentials to yet another publisher,  serial numbers, selecting the right version and it goes on and on. And, on top of that, the irrational price that has no proportion to how we’re going to use the software. Why should I pay a backup utility 50$ when I’ll probably use it once in a few months? It’s not like I’m sitting all day long backing things up and then restoring them…

So, publishers saw that we just don’t pay for their software however we do use it. This fact made them come to the amazing conclusion that we use illegal copies. And what did they do next? Started spending tones of money on the best copy protection, bullet proof, can’t be pirated licensing. But guess what? That didn’t work. So they started looking for other places to bring money from. From affiliate programs to toolbars to ads and what not. Making money from everything they can install on the user’s machine except of their own software. The installed software became a channel for the user’s machine.

Even though we’re at the 21st century and SaaS is becoming really popular we still barely see software publishers that understood that to get users buying your products you need to be nice to them. We, at Licensario, offer a different approach. We think that software publishers should stop wasting resources to find new ways to say NO to users. Instead, we say, go ahead and say YES to your users. What do I mean by that? I started this post by saying that publishers made it really hard for us to pay. It’s time to ease the process. Make it dead simple to pay. Be nice to your users. Offer them flexible payment plans. Offer subscriptions. Offer payments for usage (pay-per-use). Don’t let your users go wandering in a website for the suitable version, do it in-app. License your features or at least make it simple for the user to understand what she’s paying for. Use micro payments. And don’t ask them for their credit card. Users should have one account for all software content – across platforms.

This model works. Guaranteed. Apple already proved it with their app store. SaaS has proven it.

We will not stop piracy. Neither do SOPA and PIPA. I wonder if anyone can. But it’s definitely possible to raise the buy rate. If buy rates are higher in the gaming world where people are willing to pay for virtual goods such as swords or the best sheep in town why can’t it be with software? Software publishers should treat their features as virtual goods and people will pay for them when they need them the most. Just give them the option and be kind. You’ll be surprised on users’ willingness to pay:

Public opinion strongly favors intellectual property (IP) rights: seven PC users in 10 support paying innovators for their creations to promote more technology advances.

I added a poll at the end. Maybe it will shed some more light of what makes it easier for people to pay for software, apps or any digital content. I’ll appreciate if you’ll answer it.

If you like this post I’ll appreciate if you’ll like or follow Licensario.

Startup life. The bad days. (*)

11 Feb

Entrepreneurs are dreamers. Of course there is money involved but mostly they dream about how they’ll change the world. But sometimes reality strikes. And many times it strikes bad.

A few weeks ago we (at Licensario) had a crappy week.

Before that things were going really good for us. We felt like we were going in the right direction. We were dreamers. And then, one morning, you wake up into a storm. Reality strikes.

I wanted to write this post on that week but I’m glad I didn’t. Things got back on track since then. We’re starting our beta and there’s a lot of interest from companies we haven’t dream of talking with at this stage. I guess I wanted to write this blog to focus for a minute on the down side of things. I think that most of the stories we hear are of companies that succeeded which is great but there are more who didn’t. And even those who succeeded had bad days.

So, how do you get past the bad days? The best thing in my opinion is to remember that failure is the path to success (I’m sure that an old smart man said it sometime… If not, I’m taking the copyrights on this one for myself :)). I don’t have the statistics but I bet most of successful people failed a few times before they got to where they are. If you believe in what you’re doing and you’re sure your idea is a game changing one then give yourself a minute to be down and then get back on the horse. The market is not waiting for you to get over some bad news. I know that some people will read it and say that it’s easier said than done. Well, bullshit I say. Sure, when you’re down it seems like everyone around you is having fun, making a lot of money and on their way to success. Always remember, that’s a load of crap. It’s just like that when we have a girlfriend we’re sure that all the women out there wants us. Yeah right. The fact you’ve got a girl beside you doesn’t mean that you’re not the same ugly dude. It’s just a matter of perception. Remember, we’re all human beings. We share the same fears.

You need to keep in mind that things change fast. Especially when you’re running a startup company. It’s an emotional rollercoaster and it goes fast. It’s not a ride where you just sit back and relax. It’s not a 9 to 5 ride. And it’s definitely not a ride for people with a low breaking threshold. But, with that said, I’ll recommend it to everyone who’s thinking about taking the risk. Unless you’re a big shoot in a company there’s no other way for you to take critical decisions. A life changing decisions for your company. And that’s the exciting part of the rollercoaster ride. You learn in a day more than you learn in a month in an office job. You learn about how to run a company, how to take an idea from the grounds up but the most important thing is that you learn about yourself.

You don’t get used to bad news but you can definitely learn how to handle them better.

(*) The credit for the title goes to my partner, Igor Shapiro