Question by K_Alejandro: Software Developers POV: What is better? Piracy or using the free competitor’s product…?
I got thinking about this hypothetical situation after I had a problem opening a document from a classmate.
I use Office 2003 and I have absolutely no interest in ‘upgrading’ to office 2007.
My reasons are: 1 – it costs money. 2 – it offers no additional features or services that have any interest whatsoever to me. 3 – it is a waste of extra space and system resources.
So there I am with a .docX file from office 2007… Funny thing, my PDA can open it without trouble in Textmaker, but I can’t do a damned thing with it on my computer without installing a compatibility pack from Microsoft. Of course Microsoft’s website won’t actually let you download that pack… the download page is broken, simply sending you to its internal search engine from the download page…
Now my solution is simple and I have already taken care of things (my PDA can open it and save as an Office 2003 in about 20 seconds – LUV WIFI)
BUT, I was thinking about what I would do without it…
Clearly MS would love for me to give them $ $ $ to upgrade to office 2007, but I would rather get testicular cancer than give $ $ $ for software I actively dislike.
So that leaves two Schroedinger’s cat type options – grab a pirated 2007 or go open source…
So now I started thinking from the Point of View of Microsoft.
if I were a software developer, if people are not willing to pay me for my software, what would I prefer?
Would I prefer that they pirate my software and use it that way or would I prefer that they use a free open source alternative?
What about you?
I can see two sides:
If they are using the pirated version, they will develop a familiarity and preference for your software. Perhaps later, they will decide that it actually is worth upgrading (confession – I have done this with both Photoshop and Vegas pro… $ 1600 dollars of income for Sony and Adobe resulting from 2 years of piracy that would never have happened if I had not been able to develop loyalty, familiarity and skill with those programs… I currently also teach those programs in university clubs and recommend them strongly – further potential and realized income for those companies)
On the other hand, If they use the Open source free version, this income will never be generated. The loss to the original companies will always be ‘perceived’ since there was never any chance that they would get any money for the same services offered by the software. Loyalty, familiarity and skill will be built up with the other program. Later, if that program decides to solicit cash (shareware type donations or by expanding to an ‘elite’ pay version), they are likely to get paying customers from the market segment of those who were not originally willing to pay YOU the software developer whose software the open source variant is copying…. What is even more curious about this is that users who choose this avenue of alternatives are generally more interested in using legitimate programs, hence when they do decide to put money into that type of software, they are more likely to pay than simply move to ‘the next version’ via a torrent or download.
I feel this is an interesting and possibly important question as it becomes easier and easier to get highly functional, virus free pirated software and illicit internet use becomes more and more accepted by the general populace (note the new features in the big 3 browsers with ‘incognito’ modes, presumably a nod towards porn and pirating websites).
Please note: This is not a question regarding piracy or recommending piracy. I am not asking for the POV of the consumer. It is asking the opinion of people who make and write (and market) software. This is not an ethics question.
to the last two “answers”…
I’m not looking at this from the point of view of a consumer, it was a consumer issue that got me thinking about how this issue might be viewed by SOFTWARE DEVELOPERS. IE: the other side of the fence.
In my case, the download page on MS’s site is or was broken for whatever reason and did not lead to a viable download, it was an endless circle. I can easily go to get the compatibility pack elsewhere too, but the point is that this lapse in service from MS when I was dealing with a time-sensitive document from across the other side of the world did not merit mucking about.
Further, this 2007 compatibility pack _should_ have been updated automatically with windows updates but again, for some reason it was not. This is a lapse of service on MS’s part and I cynically wondered if there might be a shadowy reason behind it.
I’m a photographer and I will occasionally give stuff away free if I feel it may lead to business later…
Answer by Mercuri
Hmm… you bring up a valid point. In fact, this has been argued many times over. Often companies like to perceive piracy lost sales on a direct 1 to 1 ratio. For instance, if MS Office 2007 was pirated 200 times, they would claim that’s 200 lost sales. However, that is not the case. Of those 200 pirates, only a small fraction would have actually purchased the software of their own volition.
But there are advantages to software piracy, as you mentioned. Once you get used to the software and deem it worth the price tag, you purchase it, something that might have been totally out of the question prior to your piracy. However, it’s not like anyone here is not familiar with Microsoft Office, so I’m not sure this methodology works well for big mainstream software like Office.
Alternatively though, I might deem an Open Source alternative to be too lackluster and poorly developed and would opt to purchase the retail software instead.
So I think it depends on your perspective and a number of other factors. Certainly given the choice we would all choose to pirate all software and purchase only the software we like.
What do you think? Answer below!