paying for bug fixes (was Re: [ANN] Installer Maker Plugin 1.7.8)
lfredricks at proactive-intl.com
Fri May 4 19:58:42 EDT 2012
> So, I'm eager to learn what those who buy products from each
> other in this community expect from others in terms of bug
> fixes and upgrades and paying more money.
You don't know how many times Ive mulled over this question. All I can
really say is that it depends on:
1) Does the type of product ever get truly upgraded?
Consider a product like a game, or some sort of casual application. The user
has little expectation of getting a "2.0" of that product. The product,
therefore, likely has to have a relatively long life, so bug fixes would be
2) Is it a product that requires a lot of critical maintenance?
Selling Valentina really falls into this. DBs are infrastructure, critical
incompatibilities come up with new updates to operating systems, or
something new gets implemented that has a secondary effect. But also look
into #3 (where I will explain more of our thinking in regards to Valentina).
3) Does the pricing strategy take into account updating previous versions?
At one time, if you bought an infrastructure product, you could expect a
previous version to get some form of updates, for some time. You used to see
that even with major dev tools, ie the IDE. But pricing strategies have
significantly changed since those days. Products are more expensive to
build, operating systems change more rapidly, security issues come up, etc.
So how to address this problem?
3a - Specifically charge for patches. Some companies, especially those of
undead platforms will charge you a very large amount of money for simple
patches, sometimes on a plan, sometimes not. In fact, there are companies
that buy up older products specifically to do that. Some will issue a patch
if someone else is willing to pay the cost.
3b - Alter your cost structure to cover the updating of old versions.
Everyone pays more.
3c - Patches come with updates. If you qualify for an update, you'll get
patches, but only for the new version of the product.
With Valentina, since our customer balks at a or b, we've had to go with c.
On the other hand, each version of the software has at least a year as the
current version, and you also get 12 months of updates when you buy (when
you buy for the first time, or you update). We also keep API and file format
changes to a minimum.
Ive gotten a lot of feedback from customers over the years about their
expectations for updates. Sometimes Ill get a story about how 'back in my
COBOL days, we gave free patches to old versions for year after year'. Yes,
I had vendors who did that - many of which no longer exist, or they were in
a different vertical market space. The software business continuously spawns
new business models and paradigms and often an old business model is
impossible, no longer expected, or too costly in a market where
competitiveness has changed.
Summing up - your bug fix strategy is a part of a larger business strategy.
It isn't just a matter of nice guys vs greedy swine.
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