Is a developing of shareware a new psycho syndrome?

by Dr. Leonid Sakharov

Shareware model of business is mostly hobby.
I have being developing shareware several years already. I can proudly confess that I have sold more then twenty passwords. Really. I got more then two thousand dollars for them. Are you laughing? It means that you never were in shareware business. Most of shareware publishers got nothing at all whatsoever.

The idea under doing my own software was quite straightforward. Fact one. Software firms are existed. They are developing something and selling software products. I can do some useful programs myself and because I can do it alone and sell via Internet I can be profitable. Really just do imagine - you have code a program. It is protected by copyright that is completely, undeniable yours. You put it on web. Anybody can download and use… But! Not too long. Then they have to buy unique password to continue. You don't need do a shit. Password can be sold by a third party vendor like for example. They will just send you checks. All you expenses will be a presence on Internet. It's really cheap. Less then two password for you program for year in geosities. Nice picture. Mirage.

What is wrong? A lot.

What is you program for? Microsoft has done every possible software for everyday activity already. You just cannot create word editor better then thousands professional programmers. Even if you can it's next after impossible to convince anybody that is a case. The first solution is an only solution. It became the standard that is paraphrase of monopoly.

You are going to give you customers to try you software for free before to buy. This is a shareware's fat idea. Good. But what for I will try other word processor if I use Microsoft's Word on everyday base a lot. I already have muscle memory for all my needs. New software will be cheaper? But I already paid for old one. So developing software for everyday activity niches are filled. Let's test something special but more or less important for group of possible customers.

Every scientist has at least one area of unique expertise. Mine is a crystal growth. Not really unique but I can to code a program that will demonstrate a theoretical model how crystal surface is forming. Nobody else did it. Mechanism of crystal growth is a not trivial idea and every student will be benefited playing with my software. There is no analog product for my LeoCrystal. Furthermore I had managed to place a webpage about LeoCrystal on the first place in Google search results for keywords "crystal growth software". Output? Some.

Traffic for the page about LeoCrystal is about 10 hits per day. Downloads (free!) is about 2 per days. Sells - tears. Students and teachers are not intellectual curious. It's an experimental fact for me now. An aggressive advertisement can change everything for sure. People can be forced to buy anything if to spent tons of money to make them. I haven't this power. Almost nobody from shareware authors has not.

Here are questions. Do society need to have software to illustrate any scientific concept usable by any student like an article in encyclopedia? If answer is yes who will pay for it? Shareware scheme is not working. Students will not. Special government agency? They don't want to interfere free market. Who? Nobody will.

The conclusion. There is no place in software market for stand alone scientists. You knowledge is out of demand. The sooner you will understand that you are spare part of population the better for you. At least you will not end in mental hospital. Hopefully.

Originally submitted at Nov. 14, 2004; 15:23

After many years after this article was published the answer is positive. No real money for shareware. The root of problem is that most end-user operations can be performed by standard MS Office. Really for 99% of everyday activities you need only - Word, Excel, Paint, Firefox, Thundrebird, Skype, Notepad.

If your program does something unique you need unique user who does this unique operation routinely. If he need for day or so. Shareware would bring nothing... It will bring peanuts. Self promotion at best you will have.

Nov. 17, 2017; 10:25 EST

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