[thelist] cheap software spam - how do they do it?

Shawn K. Quinn skquinn at speakeasy.net
Tue Mar 14 21:12:18 CST 2006

On Wed, 2006-03-15 at 12:34 +1100, Ken Schaefer wrote:
    [I wrote:]
> > You're comparing apples to oranges here. I think it's a bit unfair 
> > to compare physical goods with something which can be reproduced at
> > little to no cost.
> Not entirely. Producing and marketing a physical product includes all
> sorts of initial setup, design and testing costs which need to be
> recouped across the sales of the product.

You are approaching what I say with entirely the wrong mindset to
understand what I'm actually saying.

For the moment, forget the support hotline, shrinkwrap, fancy box, 60
second commercial on 100 different cable TV and broadcast channels
including one airing during a major national sporting event that Nielsen
thinks almost everyone watches, half- or even full-page newspaper and
magazine ads, billboards, and even the CD/DVD itself. Take all that out,
and the cost to develop a given program into something usable drops
significantly (and we begin to see just where that $1200 for this Adobe
Suite thing actually goes).

> You could say that the cost of the physical product needs to recoup
> both the variable cost of the item, as well as the fixed cost
> in developing the product. Software is no different.

Software is *very* different. All of the software I use, I either do not
have on CD-ROM (I don't have a DVD-ROM drive in this PC yet) or it was
made on media I supplied myself. However, I'm pretty sure I could buy
fancy shrinkwrapped boxes with CDs inside if I really wanted to.

If you keep thinking of software as a physical product (in fact, it is
not), this will never make sense to you.

> The marginal cost per unit is low (maybe a few dollars to press a CD),
> but that doesn't mean that the fixed costs are insignificant. Look at
> electricity - it costs next to nothing to supply a few extra watts to
> your house. Does that mean electricity should be free (or nearly so)?

This is a complete non sequitur. Besides, it doesn't hold water, as
people do make money selling copies of free software: the people that
really do need the disc, shrinkwrap, and fancy box get it, and those
that don't, don't.

Shawn K. Quinn <skquinn at speakeasy.net>

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