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Andy Brice
Successful Software

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Creator of DeepTrawl, CloudTrawl, and LeapDoc

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BreezeTree Software

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host, Startup Success Podcast author of The Web Startup Success Guide and Micro-ISV: From Vision To Reality

Patrick McKenzie
Bingo Card Creator

Windows vs MacOSX sales numbers

There have been a few threads on here asking whether cross-platform development was worth doing. I have been doing some stats and here are some numbers for anyone considering developing for both Windows and MacOSX.

MacOSX visitors to site: 7%
MacOSX downloads: 7%
MacOSX sales: 11%
MacOSX CD sales: 1%

Notes:
-numbers are for this year
-sales % is fairly rough based on survey and feedback emails (I don't distinguish at point of sale as the same licence key works for MacOSX and Windows versions)
-quite a few MacOSX customers also use the software on Windows (this is allowed by the licence)
-MacOSX customers buy a *lot* less CDs than Windows customers, I'm not sure why
-when I ask customers what OS they are using I get comments such "Mac of course" and "Mac forever", no-one is that enthusiastic about Windows ;0)
-I couldn't pay my mortgage with MacOSX sales alone
-the numbers might be completely different in YOUR market

I was quite surprised MacOSX sales were as high as 11% as the MacOSX CD sales are so minimal.

From a business point of view, was it worth the extra time and expense to develop a MacOSX version? So far, probably not. But in the long run I hope it will be. Also it spreads my risk a bit and it has been interesting to learn a bit about MacOSX.
Andy Brice Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
 
 
Thank you for the interesting numbers Andy.  A surprisingly large amount of chimney sweeps use MacOS (one guy asked for a Linux port!!?), so I've been debating the merit of porting a Mac version myself.
Phil Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
 
 
Chimney sweeps who use Linux, now *thats* a niche market. ;0)

I've had about 2 requests for a Linux version. Its not going to happen.
Andy Brice Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
 
 
We also get roughly 10% of our sales for Mac OSX, which is higher than we expected since the Mac OSX market share is lower. But since it doesn't cost us anything extra to have multi-platform support, it's just fine.
Tomas Sancio Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
 
 
Hey, I won't win ultimate niche software of the year if I don't try a little harder!  Really though, I think the most likely way I'll solve the cross platform issue (if I do at all) is to create a web-based version, written in Wasabi++.
Phil Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
 
 
Andy do you see the mac market growing or is it a static percentage or your hopefully growing sales ?
Chris goCRM Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
 
 
>Andy do you see the mac market growing

I can't really say. I don't really have enough detailed data and there are too many other factors (seasonal etc).

>or is it a static percentage or your hopefully growing sales ?

I believe it is slowly increasing.

One important difference between the Mac and Windows markets is download sites. There are a small number of high quality Mac download sites (such as versiontracker.com). Many of the small MacOSX companies appear to use these as there major form of marketing. Contrast this with Windows where there are thousands of crappy download sites that nobody seems to visit.
Andy Brice Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
 
 
Is perfect table plan written in realbasic ?
Chris goCRM Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
 
 
Thanks for the data Andy! This kind of stuff is invaluable to uISV's.

I would assume that your Mac sales numbers are higher than expected because Mac users obviously don't mind spending money.  ;)  Linux users on the other hand won't spend a dime if they don't have to. Windows users are somewhere in between.

So I would probably agree with your stance on not supporting Linux but supporting Mac. It definitely seems to be working out for you.

Good luck and thanks again for the info.
dood mcdoogle
Thursday, September 07, 2006
 
 
My MacOS version is a wild success: 2 copies sold (one was sold before I even HAD a Mac version).  I paid back the initial investment for the port and from here on its pure gravy :)

In terms of downloads, thats probably a 50% download-to-purchase conversion rate.  I'm guessing there might be some *small* problems with the statistical reliability of those numbers, though.
Patrick McKenzie Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
 
 
Phil, I am starting to believe this Chimsoft is a real product now. :)
Orick of Toronto Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
 
 
>Is perfect table plan written in realbasic ?

No. C++/Qt. See: http://www.trolltech.com .

Hey Trolltech, if you are following this link back I want a discount on next year's maintenance for the plugs I have given you on forum! ;0)
Andy Brice Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
 
 
Just a note on market share - those numbers you see quoted are new cpu sales, not cpus by percentage in the home.  There's a difference.

Andy, I'm glad to see your Mac sales up that high.
Lou Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
 
 
Indie game developers have known for a long time that ignoring the Mac market is like leaving money on the table.

As owners of small software companies, none of us can tolerate leaving even a few sales on the floor with the excuse "I won't port this thing to Mac because it's not worth my time".

That's nonsense - it's programmer laziness due to the general comfort zone you've established for yourself as a Windows developer.

If you're being honest to yourself as a developer, you realize that the only reason you're not porting your app or game to the Mac market is because of some inner lack of self-confidence; you just don't want to face a new OS with its slew of foreign APIs, IDEs and technologies - even when you know that an extra 2 or 3 sales a month from the Mac market is far from being a drop in the bucket for your startup.

I've written up a quick blog post on the heels of this thread which goes into more detail.

Antair's next product will be released for both platforms.
Andrey Butov Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
 
 
>That's nonsense - it's programmer laziness due to the general comfort zone you've established for yourself as a Windows developer.

Not necessarily. That extra effort might be better spent on adding new features to your Windows product or starting a new Windows product.
Andy Brice Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
 
 
Andy,

Thanks for the interesting feedback about your Mac sales.

I've been in the opposite boat: I've been Mac-only and have found trying to target Windows very frustrating. It's counterintuitive, perhaps, but the Windows market does not have the nice marketing/PR ecosystem (VerisonTracker + Mac news sites) that allow you to get the word out about your product with minimal marketing expense. Mac-only vendors do very well in this market niche if they have the right product, and I've seen more than one Mac developer report that their Windows ports don't repay the investment: their Mac versions actually outsell their Windows versions!

Currently my stuff is Mac-only. When I get a MacTel machine later this year, I am going to reevaluate whether it might be worth my while to port one or two of my programs to Windows.

Any Mac vendors here who have found Windows a fruitful market to target?
Formerly Known as Open Source Pays Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
 
 
Andy Brice > -when I ask customers what OS they are using I get comments such "Mac of course" and "Mac forever", no-one is that enthusiastic about Windows ;0)

Makes sense. They spend more money buying their computer to begin with, don't have access to as many softwares as the Windows people. I don't recall what it's called in psychology, but you shouldn't expect those people to say it just wasn't worth it, and if they had to do it again, they'd go for Windows (and possibly a bit of help from some computer friend to set it up right to begin with).

> -the numbers might be completely different in YOUR market

Most likely. It's like putting out a piece of software for the only market where Apple has a significant market shared (print, desktop publishing, multimedia) and be surprised at getting so many hits from Mac users. Likewise, there are a lot of Linux users reading Linux sites, but you'd be wrong to conclude that, say, 60% of users out there run Linux.

Until someone comes up with a tool that lets us develop truly great cross-platform apps (.Net/Mono?), Macs won't get over their 3% market share.
TheFred
Thursday, September 07, 2006
 
 
>the Windows market does not have the nice marketing/PR ecosystem (VerisonTracker + Mac news sites) that allow you to get the word out about your product with minimal marketing expense

Thats very true. I don't really know my way around this little eco-system, I would probably get better Mac sales if I did.

The download percentages above are based on visits to the download page. When I looked at actual _file_ downloads The % of Mac downloads is higher, perhaps coming through from VersionTracker etc.

I am hoping that version 3 of PerfectTablePlan is going to be a lot slicker and more native looking on Mac (courtesy of a move from Qt3 to Qt4), which will hopefully increase my MacOSX conversion percentages.

>Currently my stuff is Mac-only. When I get a MacTel machine later this year, I am going to reevaluate whether it might be worth my while to port one or two of my programs to Windows.

If you do I would be happy to exchange some Windows marketing tips in exchange for MacOSX ones in return!
Andy Brice Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
 
 
"That's nonsense - it's programmer laziness due to the general comfort zone you've established for yourself as a Windows developer."

For me it's not laziness as much as a cost/benefit thing.  You can't view your time as free.  My app is written in .NET, so to port it to work on Mac would probably require an entire rewrite in some other language.  I estimate maybe 2...3 months?  (Mono doesn't do WinForms stuff well)

I also don't own a Mac, so i'd have to buy one. 

So assuming bargain basement Mac = $600
2-3 months development = $15,000

I'd probably be able to convert about $4-6k in sales from a Mac version.

Wouldn't that development time be better spent marketing, or even purchasing PC's for the Mac users? :)
Phil Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
 
 
>>> or even purchasing PC's for the Mac users? :)


Uh! For SHAME! :) And to think, I read your blog!
Andrey Butov Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
 
 
I thought you had better taste in reading then that! 

Seriously though, I grew up a hard core Mac guy, and would love to switch back, but they need about another 10% of market share to make it worth my while.
Phil Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
 
 
>they need about another 10% of market share to make it worth my while.

Its the classic chicken and egg problem.
Andy Brice Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
 
 
"As owners of small software companies, none of us can tolerate leaving even a few sales on the floor with the excuse "I won't port this thing to Mac because it's not worth my time"."

It's the classic "bending over dollars to pick up pennies" mentality. Sometimes "leaving a few sales on the floor" is a good thing. It saves you money and precious time to work on your core competency. Nothing wrong with that at all.
anon
Thursday, September 07, 2006
 
 
You're using C++ and Qt?  A Linux version should take a matter of minutes to compile and package (I'm assuming you're not using non-standard libraries, since you already have a Mac and Windows version).
Steve Moyer Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
 
 
A Qt build for Linux wouldn't take too long, but...really, how many Linux users pay for software? I've looked at this carefully--I used to deploy an X11 version of my apps on Mac OS X as demoware, so they were already set to go for Linux if I wanted--but how can a commercial developer compete with apt-get install foo?
Formerly Known as Open Source Pays Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
 
 
>A Linux version should take a matter of minutes to compile and package

There is a *little* more to shipping a commercial quality app than compiling it.

I have ported it to Linux to using some of the Linux development tools. But I am not prepared to pay for a commercial Qt development for Linux which I am never going to recoup through sales.
Andy Brice Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
 
 
You're definitely correct ... there's more to making a Linux version than compiling.  Of the "matter of minutes" I referred to, the compiling is probably 1% and the packaging (considering there are still several paths to the standard libraries) is the other 99%.

I certainly won't advocate developing a product that never pays for itself ... I was really just pointing out that it's technically not much harder to create the Linux version than the Mac version.
Steve Moyer Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
 
 
Steve, I used linux for 4 years and I still don't know how to make a binary package that anyone can run. It might take minutes to support the latest release of Fedora, but add that up for every distribution in use and it's a different story.
Richard G Send private email
Thursday, September 07, 2006
 
 
"Steve, I used linux for 4 years and I still don't know how to make a binary package that anyone can run. It might take minutes to support the latest release of Fedora, but add that up for every distribution in use and it's a different story."

Binary packages anyone can run end up being stuff like shell scripts built with shar to install the program and its deps. The other major alternative is pick a packaging system you officially support (like rpm) and make people using other distributions to use those tools.

Both can work, and have been using for commercial software in the past. Even with option one, though, you need to limit the distros for support reasons, just as you won't necessarily support windows 95 in the windows version of your product.
Brian Mitchell Send private email
Friday, September 08, 2006
 
 

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