A former community discussing the business of software, from the smallest shareware operation to Microsoft. A part of Joel on Software.
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Doug Nebeker ("Doug")
FOREWORD: Please don't mention my name or product name in any replies, as I don't want this thread searchable by Google. Thanks!
Back in January, just 3 months ago, you may remember I launched my new website and product. Here's the thread:
Today, I found out that somebody in HackForums.net is trying to crack it. :( Here's the thread:
And here's some screenshots for posterity:
Bear in mind, I'm only asking $9.99 for the app, but evidently that's too expensive for this twat to pay. Oh well. People say I should be congratulated that I've released an app that is worthy of cracking... sorry, but I still don't see it that way.
Before Wyatt jumps in with his offer (where has he been lately, anyway?), I just want to say I'm not interested in protecting it commercially. People will always crack, as shown, despite the best efforts of anyone with a "solution".
A shame it always comes to this. :(
It's also annoying that the second poster in the HackForums.net thread is, by his own words, also "desperately looking for the same thing and cannot come right at all." From that comment, that could be two sales if they just did the legal/moral thing.
I guess I should be glad that my weak in-house protection is giving them the sh*ts in the meantime. :)
Third reply to myself. :) I'm just surmising that this protection method might explain why sales dropped off a couple of months ago, when I switched to a Registry-based method instead. Anyone with RegShot can see where I'm storing the usage count and delete it, but the original method above was obviously doing a better job. Going to switch back to it ASAP!
Many years ago I wrote a small utility app for personal users and found that:
1. They were a pain to support (many not computer literate enough)
2. Were very cheap -- many didn't want to pay for anything, forcing the price to be low.
Those two are a recipe for a painful business that never grows -- lots of work for not much income.
IMHO, create something you can charge at _least_ $49 for. Better yet, build something that businesses will buy. Businesses aren't nearly as price sensitive. Also, they seem to use stolen software less since their chance of getting caught goes up with the number f people that know about it. And finally, they often have an IT guy that can help them internally.
One other thought: price is a signal for quality. People don't appreciate and respect $10 software, even if it's truly awesome and amazing.
So you've made a good start. But for long term, I suggest thinking of something bigger. And if it can be web based, the people hacking licenses goes down even more.
But congrats for having built an app worthy of hacking ;)
Hi Doug! I like the idea of business software for future apps, for all the reasons you mentioned, and I've learned some good lessons from this other app anyway, with regard to pricing, support, and dealing with customer queries. I'll see how it continues to go in the meantime, too.
I kind of did the same thing as you -- first few apps sold were recognized as learning experiences (though any extra money would be welcomed as well). With that in mind, I'd also recommend getting an AdWords account so you can experiment with it too. And setup Google Analytics for your site. All of this is a first stepping stone for your larger and more prosperous projects in the future :)
My product hasn't been cracked yet. It's gonna turn 2 years old tomorrow and has 1300+ sales. Am I just lucky? No idea.
There is NO serial code system in the software, the trial and final are different builds. The trial watermarks the output 100% of the time. There is also a honeypot method employed to make sure bypassing the watermarking isn't trivial.
So basically it would be very easy to crack if someone competent really wanted to do so. But sure as hell script kiddies won't crack it just by hacking a critical if-then-else branch because there is no such thing.
I wouldn't obsess about it.
People will always try and crack software, just like some people will always shoplift. It's just part of the cost of doing business.
The majority of people however are honest and will not be searching hacker forums to find some dodgy-virus-infested rip off.
If you really cannot stand the thought of someone pirating your software then there are a number of choices as far as I can see.
First is to sell to grown-ups . Teenagers and twenty-somethings are the worst group to try and sell too. They expect everything to be free because the bank-of-mum-and-dad generally pays for everything.
Second is to sell boring software to businesses. As mentioned before they are less price-sensitive because they are spending other peoples money. And they are not less likely to break the law - why would you, as an IT guy in a US corporation possibly risk getting yourself fired and your company fined just to save a couple of thousand of someone else's money? You wouldn't.
Final suggestion is to jump on the Software-as-a-Service bandwagon. One of the primary drivers behind SAAS is that emerging economies are far less likely to purchase software licenses ( think : Piracy and China ), its a lot, lot harder to pirate a service.
In my own business I sell a boring business app for about $1k - it has almost no protection - but the market that it goes to is highly unlikely to try and crack it and almost certainly wouldn't download a "cracked" copy.
I have launched a SAAS version and have so far managed to get 20 or so subscribers ... very much feeling my way with it, as SAAS is a different game to On-Prem.
>> "In the past I also had separate trial and release versions of the software. It seemed the simplest solution."
The problem with that is that often times a stolen credit card is used to buy the full version, it's released to the world by some scumbag and said scumbag doesn't even have to go through the trouble of cracking. Plus, to add a cherry on top, the real owner of the credit card will call the bank thus forcing a chargeback and costing you more money.
Saturday, April 11, 2015
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