Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Would You Pay for a Software Update That Has NO New Features?

Before I jump in, I've just been turned on to a new blog for those of you interested in production work.

Scott Church is the software strategist (cool title) for Digidesign, and has started the protools|blog, chock FULL of helpful hints, tips, and video tutorials for getting the most out of Pro Tools.
If you do any production work, I would HIGHLY recommend checking it out.

That said Scott wont publish a comment I left for him, so I thought I'd pick a (little) blog fight, LOL.

In a recent post of his, Scott put up a poll asking for user's opinion on software updates:
If Digidesign offered a paid update which only included small usability enhancements, bug fixes and performance improvements, would you buy it?
The poll currently sits at 61.54% against (which I think is good), but since Scott wouldn't post my snarky response to the question I thought I would elaborate here.

Coming from a family of hardware and software engineers, I feel pretty strongly about this. Lately I've noticed a trend where it's perfectly acceptable to release products that aren't finished. There seems to be no marketplace consequence to delivering a product that is incomplete. Thanks to a lobster pot effect, it now seems most consumers expect that kinks will have to be worked out of the gadget they've already spent money on, and that there is no guarantee that the widget will ever completely function as promised (iPhone 3G and Vista I'm looking in your general direction).

What's sad is, we all seem to be fine with this.

Now, I will certainly pay for new functionality. Hell, I'll probably be first in line, but to start paying for optimizations and bug fixes, well that just doesn't sit well with me. Not only are we acknowledging that product QA isn't as high as it could be, but this almost feels like extortion to me: "Keep paying us, or your software wont work as well as it could".

A purchase is a contract (no really just try and read an EULA sometime). I give them money for a product. They give me a product that does what they say it does. Everybody is happy. I'm not giving them money for an idea of a product that isn't quite finished. If I'm spending money, I want a solid solution.

If any company were to seriously engage in this kind of "support" I would probably stop doing business with that company, or at least seriously start considering a competitor's product.

Whew, nice little rant there.
So again, if you use Pro Tools, then Scott's protools|blog is a little slice of incredible, and you really should check it out.

Just don't expect him to publish your comments (OOOOHHHHH DIS!!!!).


  1. Juan,

    GR8 tip on the Pro-Tools Blogsite. I've booked the feed onto my reader for sure. Nice going! Keep on bloggin' bro!

  2. Thanks Dave.
    It was too good a site NOT to pass along, but I couldn't just be cool about it. I had to get my Nerd-Snark on...

  3. Juan,

    I agree. It's very nice to see this new blog. But I also agree with your point that paying for bug-fixes sends exactly the wrong message to the creators and producers of the hardware and software we use.

    Be well,

  4. Man it is a great blog. Those vid tutorials are pretty awesome.
    I know companies have to eek out as much profit from their products as they can, and paid technical support is really popular with companies like Avid, but charging for bug fixes is the wrong course to take.

    Thanks Bob!

  5. Hi Some Audio Guy,

    I publish all the comment on my blog - it's just hard to do quickly during the week. I use the weekend not only to prepare a lot of my content for the rest of the week, but to be able to reply to comments and follow-up on discussions. This blog is something I am doing "off the clock" so I have to balance it with my 10 hour days in the office at Daly City.

    So I haven't not-approved any comment. I do want to keep the conversation productive, and yours certainly was. I have no issue addressing the hard questions as long as we all respect one another.

    BTW, you have a great blog as well. I appreciate you passing it along to your readers. It's my first online-diss, so I am pretty excited about it! I hope we continue to spar and toss good-hearted barbs back and forth - I am ready for ya'.

    Let's see if you post this reply now ;-)


  6. Hey Scott!
    I KNEW if I was obnoxious enough you'd drop by. LOL!

    Thanks for having a sense of humor! You've got a killer site, and hopefully I can send a little traffic your way!