Cybersquatting My Alternate Identity

Bundles and Buying Software

Posted on: 6 June 2009

Two more bundle deals have just opened up, via MacUpdate and the new TheMacBundles. During the March 2009 MacHeist, Lukas Mathis and Michael Tsai wondered how the bundle paradigm affects the overall market for indie Mac software.  I’m wondering now whether Panic’s recent big sale, with Coda at half-off, was an attempt to get Coda into lots of hands to mitigate the fact that some 70,000 people got Espresso in the MacHeist.

I buy lots of bundles, because I like to hoard software, and I’m cheap. It’s a personality trait.

For the most part, I wind up using bundle purchases as demos. I’m not good
at using demos—I need to have a concrete task on my mind so that I
actually put an app through its paces in the first 30 days or whatever
the demo period is. When I’ve paid for a program, I’m more likely to
randomly play around with it instead of waiting for the perfect moment
to test it (I never tested DevonThink until I owned it, despite the
HUGE hype it gets from academics).

It’s very likely that
getting The Hit List in a bundle replaced a purchase, since I had
already decided that I preferred THL to Things and OmniFocus, and was
finding that I used it regularly, unlike the other two. The beta license for THL is still good, however, so I would not have made that decision yet. I can’t point to any other specific purchases I would have made that were replaced by a bundle purchase—while I start by testing the apps I already own, I don’t always limit myself to those apps.

One of the reasons why I hoard
software is because I believe in owning the right tool for the right
job, and that software is very individual. Also I like to keep things
compartmentalized. So I don’t mind having 5 or 6 finance apps because I
never know which one will be perfect for me and what I need to do. That
mindset also leads me to pay full price for the right app.

Anecdotal evidence:

  1. I was looking for a finance app just to track investment accounts, and sort of wanted to track them separately from my regular finances. Turned out I had accumulated 5 or 6 finance apps from various bundles, plus I downloaded some trials. I tried them all and stuck with the Quicken I already owned because I liked its data entry system best.
  2. I was looking to fix the blue cast on a weekend worth of pictures—I had accumulated a few photo editors from bundles plus other places, tried the 3 or 4 that I already had, and stuck with iPhoto for ease of use. Acorn looked a little attractive (Pixelmator‘s white-on-black gives me a headache to the extent I uninstalled it and sent the license to a friend), but I have to admit that already owning several photo apps (including Photoshop), I was unlikely to buy anything new without something pushing me to do a serious trial run, and I wasn’t willing to pay for this one off task.I did hope Acorn
    might show up in a bundle (as it eventually did), but since I have no
    real need for a photo editor, I would never have bought it and still
    haven’t started using it.
  3. I was looking for a new blog editor, did some googling, and discovered I already owned one in MacJournal (from a bundle). So I’ll try that one second, after the free Firefox extension ScribeFire. I already own ecto (bought full price), but since it supports multiple accounts, I probably would not pay for a second editor just because my first instinct is to keep my two blogs totally separate and not risk accidentally posting to the wrong blog.
  4. I have a need for a clipboard utility. I already have a few, some from bundles, some free, some paid for, which I have installed and un-installed at various times. But I’m not using any of them, despite wanting one, because I’m stymied by the need to compare them all and figure out which one is best. I’ll do that first with the ones I already have, before looking abroad.
  5. Despite already having multiple licenses for 1Password via bundles and sales, I paid full price for Wallet because it fit my workflow better. Haven’t paid for the upgrade to version 3 or the iPhone version yet, though.
  6. I am still looking for something to replace iWeb to put photos on the web (I like iWeb’s workflow A LOT, but the slideshows it creates outside of MobileMe are simply too small). I have two or three licenses for RapidWeaver, but wasn’t satisfied with it. I tried Sandvox, but it didn’t fit my workflow either. I passed on the recent half-off MacUpdate for Shutterbug, after testing it out and not immediately loving it. But I am willing to pay to meet this need, *if* the perfect app comes along. Right now, the free Flash Album Exporter (no longer being updated) gets me 80% of the way with 10% of the work.
  7. Aside from The Hit List, I think the only bundle program I’m using on a regular basis right now is Shovebox. Despite owning, from bundles, several competitors in that space. Also I used WhatSize regularly before getting a bigger hard drive.
  8. I would probably try to make Espresso work rather than pay for Coda—except that actually, I’m happy with Dreamweaver so wouldn’t pay for either one.
  9. When I pass a bundle license to family, I don’t use the program on my computer.

Numbers: Wallet is currently tracking licenses for 149 programs—probably 80-90% of those are from bundles or other deals. Most of my software purchases get reimbursed as academic expenses (MS Office, EndNote, Dreamweaver to do my professional webpage, DiskWarrior, SuperDuper! for backups, etc). Quicken reports that since January 2005, I have spent $325 on seven bundles. I have spent $220 on other software purchases (sometimes sales, sometimes full price, sometimes shareware contributions).  I have spent $12.50 on iPhone apps.

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