The Price of Software
Earlier today, I jumped into an interesting Twitter discussion on the price of software started by iA. iA makes Writer, which I use at work almost every day. It’s become the go-to place for me to draft the various things I have to write as part of my job.
iA dropped a hint today on Twitter that it’s giving some thought to increasing the price of Writer for the upcoming Version 2. And not just by a little bit. They said this:
What if exceptional software started again to cost 200 Dollars instead of 10 Dollars?— iA Inc. (@iA) November 20, 2013
Would you buy an all new Writer2 with a completely unique super powerful feature set if it cost 200 Dollars?— iA Inc. (@iA) November 20, 2013
It’s an interesting situation to think about. Much has been written about software’s seeming trend toward “free” as a price point; Ben Thompson wrote a good piece about this at Stratēchery back in October. If iA is going to attempt to swim against this current, it’s going to be interesting to watch.
Writer is great — as I said, I essentially use it daily. But it would be interesting to see if they would have success with this sort of business move. I am reminded of my early days working in the sports information office at Kansas State; not long after I graduated from college, I decided I wanted to be able to take some of my work home with me, so I spent $169 to buy my own copy of Pagemaker (I think it was the Adobe-branded version, just after they had purchased Aldus). That seemed crazy at the time, but since I wanted to work at home it was really my only choice. It would be another several years before I would have a laptop at work, and about six years and a new job until I had an Apple laptop.
That same “it was really my only choice” doesn’t exist today, and it certainly doesn’t exist for Writer. There are plenty of capable competitors that exist in Writer’s space — lightweight, minimalist applications that exists to facilitate a clean writing environment. Byword, for example, is completely capable, has a couple of features that Writer does not (like built-in ability to publish to a blog), and has Mac and iOS versions. Draft is a web app that has similar functionality. And that’s just a start; there are plenty of alternatives to Writer.
It’s difficult to imagine that Writer could add a killer feature that would be so game-changing that it would justify anything in the neighborhood of a 200 percent price increase.
Still. The very fact that they’re talking about it is going to make me pay a lot of attention to how they talk about Writer 2 going forward.
What I’m Reading
Missed New Comic Day last week, so Helen and I caught up today; today’s pull included G.I. Joe #10, Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye #23 and Batman #25. Pretty light haul for two weeks; Star Wars #11 was out today but the shop’s copy or two was already gone by the time I got there. I’ll have to look elsewhere.