As the Christmas season approaches, I am starting to see a change in the Mac development community, and I have a sense that things are really changing for the better. When I used to use Windows, many of the programs I bought were in boxes from stores. But now that I use a Mac, things are quite different. The developers are different. The apps are different. And I think that the Mac development community is undergoing a monumental change this Christmas season.
The industry is changing. People now find pirating music, movies, and software the norm. Many can’t imagine paying a cent for a piece of software. How is a developer to make money in an industry like this? An industry where torrenting and P2P are so normal that it almost feels right. They can’t go on selling software the same as they have before. There has to be a different way. Sure, buying software in a box works well for Final Cut Studio, Adobe CS3, and iLife. But what about smaller applications like Rapidweaver and TextMate and Delicious Library and Disco? How are they to attract new customers?
Look around you this Christmas season. Look at all the Mac bundles and discounts. They are everywhere you look. On blogs. On websites. In ads. The bundles attract you with a low price (around the $50 range), and give you a bunch of applications. Some that you want, and others you’ve never heard of. But the bundles give the developers exposure, and next time the app gets updated, the customer may pay for an upgrade. It seems to works well for everybody – the consumer and the developer. The consumer gets a bundle of new Mac apps and saves a ton of money, while the developers get their apps into the hands of their customers.
The key to this system is in the way these apps are marketed. Let’s take a look at some of the bundles and discounts that are around this holiday season.
The MacUpdate bundle is new this year, and is comprised of seven applications valuing over $230. You can have all of these apps for $49 – almost an 80% savings. And as more people buy this bundle, even more apps will be unlocked, and included in the bundle for free. The apps aren’t all small apps. The MacUpdate bundle includes ForkLift, RapidWeaver, Xslimmer, PulpMotion, and even XMIND 2008 Pro which retails for $300! However, there are also some apps that you may have never never heard of. After you download them and try them out, you may love them and swear by them, or never use them again. Nonetheless, it give these developers the opportunity to get their apps into your hands, and then let the apps speak for themselves. Better hurry though, the bundle ends December 11th.
MacSanta is not new to the discounted apps scene. They started last year, and were very successful in capturing the Mac community’s attention. The idea behind MacSanta, was to get a bunch of developers together, and give consumers 10%-20% savings on their apps. This way, all the money goes directly to the developers. Each day, they feature different apps that you can buy with a coupon code and save 20% on. They offer a wide variety of apps from many different developers. The deals are only featured for one day however, but if you miss the day, you can still get the apps with a 10% discount until December 24th. Already, I have discovered many new applications that hadn’t heard of by visiting their site every day.
Givegoodfood2yourmac is a very interesting new idea put together by a bunch of European Mac developers at WWDC07. The idea behind it, is that you should ”feed” good apps to your Mac. The website allows you to make a “custom menu” of apps that you want to buy from a list of developers. This is actually one of the only bundles that lets you choose what apps you wish to buy. The more apps you put on your “menu”, the more money you save, as the discount increases. You can save anywhere from 30% to a whopping 70% off your meal, and you get to choose the apps you want. But again, like the other bundles, this will only last for a few more days.
Macheist is really the idea that started this whole movement of offering apps for a discounted price, or even for free, in order to attract mac users to shareware apps. Although it has received a lot of criticism, its success speaks for itself. Last year, they sold over 16 000 bundles generating them over $800 000 in revenue. They were able to pay the developers, donate $200 000 to charity, and still pay themselves. The consumers got a great deal on software, and got a lot of entertainment out of it. To this day, I still buy software from developers that I had first heard of from Macheist. The idea behind Macheist is to have heists and puzzles that the members must accomplish by scavenging the internet. It is challenging and mind-bending, but as a reward for completing the heists, the members get free applications from developers. Why would developers give away free apps? Because they know that their apps are good enough, that the users will love them and come back time and time again to pay for upgrades. As Erica over at TUAW notes, Macheist II has just launched, and will be going on throughout this Christmas season, leading up to the final bundle that will be sold starting January 9th, 2008.
I think the entire Mac development market is changing. It is no longer good enough to make a good app. Developers (except for maybe Panic) must learn to let go a little, and market their apps. Participate in bundles, giveaways, and heists. Plug their apps on websites and blogs. Get their apps into the hands of consumers. I think this year is the beginning of a revolution in the Mac market – both for consumers and developers. Developers are realizing that there is more they can do to promote their apps, and get them into the hands of consumers, while consumers are finally getting used to paying for good quality Mac shareware.
What do you think? Do these bundles and discounts encourage you to buy apps and support developers? Or does it have the opposite effect?