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Comment on "Do Consumers Want Indie iPhone Apps?"
by Ben — Jan 16
If you're selling an app that is downloadable, and you enter a serial number to validate it, then you're selling shareware, and you're a (gasp!) shareware developer. As such a developer, you're hoping everyone who downloads your software also passes it on everyone they can.

Hmmm. This makes me reflect a little bit.

I'm going to posit that the word shareware is increasingly anachronistic, and maybe that's why it's not used as commonly anymore. I remember when I actually shared disks with friends (Apogee PC games, 15 years+ ago) and occasionally paid full fare by mail order for more levels, etc. Shareware was named more for the distribution model than the business model, and that distribution model arose from necessity. But I don't share disks with anyone anymore. When I find a cool program that's out on some website put up by some guy or small team, I just mail my buddies an URL to the page where they can download the unregistered version, same way I would point my buddies to anything interesting on the web. The distribution model that shareware gave a name to is actually utterly defunct today.

The people who would have been shareware devs 10-15 years ago are now distributing downloadable demos on the web. Often today more traditionally distributed commerical applications also will offer demo downloads and online license registration for convenience. That really blurs the line: it's the same business model on top of the same distribution model! The only differences you can point to are that the "big boys" are both more likely to sell physical bundles at retail, and are somewhat less likely to offer limited downloadable demos. But those are some pretty vague differences at the fundamental level.

All other differences flow from the size of the company (in $$) and how much it spends in development, marketing, support, etc.

So not only is Shareware a misnomer, I'll claim that even "indie" is selling oneself a little short. An "indie" developer is just a little guy whose revenues (or strategy) don't support all the marketing and development that would make them think of themselves as anything but "indie". There's nothing wrong with this-- an "indie" developer sits on the other side of the same continuum as Microsoft and Adobe for all practical purposes in the current industry.
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