Long, long ago when I was in high school during early 1980's, personal computers were just coming into existence. Back then, I had taken on Basic programming as a high school student. In those days, PC of choice was Radio Shack TRS-80 --- this was just a couple of years before introduction of first Apple computer.
In those dark days before Internet and before Microsoft, only software choices we had were retail programs that could cost hundreds of dollars, or cheap video games that were offered as Shareware.
Believe it or not, in those days, we computer nerds would pass around software on floppy disk. These days, there simply are not too many programs that can be loaded onto a single diskette.
I mention this now as I contemplate various ways in which software is now distributed. We consumers are always playing a cat-and-mouse game with software developers.
In early 80's, companies who had deep pockets were ones selling their software at retail. The ones who were struggling to find traction in marketplace were ones offering their software as Shareware.
If you doubt this conclusion, then let me ask you a question. Which Microsoft products are available to public as Shareware packages?
You just proved my point.
Being an individual who has played both sides of software fence as both a consumer and developer, I am in a position to tell this story so that you as consumer can really appreciate quandary of developer.
Nag screens are storefront of shareware developers. See, challenge is that it really does cost money to develop software. Yet, public is still of mindset that they want all of their software for free.
Understanding free mindset of consumer, software developers have tried various schemes to get paid for their time and efforts. These days, you will find Shareware, Trialware, Adware and Retail.
See, retail boys have best advantage. They can afford to dump millions into advertising to build interest in their products. Funnier still, consumer does not expect to get retail products for free. For some reason, it is okay to pay big boys retail for their products, but little guy is supposed to give away his work for free!
So, why is it that we consumers treat small companies differently? We will pay $100 to $175 for Microsoft Office XP, but we would not pay for Sun Office! Sun Microsystems Office product is considered by many to be a much better product than Microsoft's, but Sun had to resort to offering their version for free to get market share!
What is wrong with this picture?
Ironically, difference is easy to see from my chair. As a marketer, I am always watching marketplace horizons to see where next advantage might be found.
We consumers have a need for one thing only. We want value for our money --- real value.
With Microsoft's deep, deep pockets, they are able to sell us on idea of value of their products. Additionally, Microsoft can afford to put their software into pretty boxes and on shelves of thousands of retailers, adding to their carefully crafted perception of value. Because Microsoft can afford to paint a solid picture of value to us, we do not hesitate to cough up hundreds of dollars required to own Microsoft's products.