Usually when I work on the more graphics-intensive art pieces for this here blog, I will listen to the radio instead of iTunes to help with PC performance. And lately I’ve been hearing an extensive ad campaign that is asking listeners to blow the whistle on workplace software piracy, even offering cash rewards for information.
Yikes! Software conglomerates are resorting to getting their message out over the airwaves. Clearly software piracy is out of control. I think asking people to snitch will yield a few catches, but in no way will it solve the issue.
Here are a few ideas to help:
1. Software is priced TOO DAMN HIGH! Seriously! Some software packages cost way more than the computer you are installing it on. If Nintendo asked me to buy a Wii for $200 and then Super Mario Galaxy for $1,000, I would laugh hysterically and walk away. Solution: If you aren’t going to come down on the overall price, then offer a few affordable solutions. Lease a program for $40 a month. Allow customers to pay in installments – on their terms. Maybe even a pay-per-use program.
There is a lot of compatible freeware available to download online. Lowering the price should be taken into consideration first and foremost.
2. Longer lifespan for each version. Offer downloadable content instead of a new iteration. It’s discouraging to buy premium software because a newer, better version will be released within a year. And the upgrade offer isn’t cheap either. Solution: Software companies should take a cue from video game companies, and only release a new version when the software is a big leap forward. In the meantime, you can offer customers optional downloadable upgrades they can buy. Support your software to last 3-5 years, and people will invest for that kind of term.
3. Reward customers for their loyalty. Wouldn’t it be awesome if Adobe sent you an email saying “Dear customer: We noticed that you bought Photoshop CS3 and upgraded to CS4 and CS5. For your patronage, an upgrade to CS6 will be provided free of charge. Hugz! -Adobe”. Those kinds of rewards acknowledge customers who have been legit, and ensures their continued business.
4. Cloud-based software usage. I have multiple computers, but don’t want multiple licenses. I should be allowed to use one instance of Microsoft Word on any computer at any single time. Solution: A client like Steam would allow this type of framework, where I would sign-in to activate my one license on any of my computers. This type of flexibility would carry a lot of appeal for many users who aren’t monogamous with computers.
5. Provide a number of options for customers that will lower the price of the software. Examples: If you participate in our monthly survey, we will reduce the cost by $200. If you decide to use our DRM program, we will reduce the price by $100. If you agree to turn on issue reporting (for bugs) it is $200 off. If you enable our peer-to-peer suite to share downloads of our program, it is $100 off. The program can be subsidized by ads…if you participate in out next Beta, etc. By assisting the developer in some form, you should be entitled to a discount. I’ll endure a few trade-offs for cheaper software.
If I think of any more, I will update this list.