OT: Why you shouldn't give away your shareware for free

Robert John Warren bobwarren at howsoft.com
Tue Dec 5 11:39:04 EST 2006

Ian Wood wrote:


Roughly paraphrased as:
Hey buddy, can we give away 5,000 copies of your app for free?
What? Why on Earth would I want to create an extra 5,000 potential  
customer support issues for no money, and piss off all my paying  

Within your business model (whatever it is), I cannot think of any 
reason at all why you would want to piss off all your paying customers. 
But not everybody "thinks Mac", that's all. Diversity is (or rather 
should be) the spirit of the modern world, and the kind of world where 
you cannot give stuff away without getting into trouble for it is not 
the kind of world I want to live in. With one tiny exception, all the 
software at my site is entirely free, and although downloads (and 
presumably usage) are constant, I have never had anything that I would 
define as a "support issue". Could it be because the software is 
relatively bug-free? Or is it that people feel awkward complaining about 
something which is free in the first place? I may never know the answer 
exactly. Of course, with the appearance and exponential growth of Linux 
(often mistakenly associated entirely with the free software movement), 
this is an issue that the Rev community is wrestling with (and 
apparently "ostriching" about, to use a word from Queen Elizabeth's 
vocabulary) and will eventually need to come to terms with. In line with 
the idea of the importance of diversity (and perhaps contradiction in a 
real living/livable world), even bearing in mind that I give away all my 
own software (though I can least afford it living in Brazil), I would 
not necessarily recommend for example that Rev/Linux should be offered 
free (as RealBasic have done), or that professional programming and 
earning a decent living as a result of developing Rev products is not an 
honourable and dignified thing to do. On the contrary. Live and let live 
is what I say.

Bob Warren

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