Chris Peters's Blog

When your software becomes a commodity

July 30, 2009

There’s still quite a bit of money out there to be made selling innovative software. (And some people get away with selling software that’s anything but innovative.)

The quality of your work and how much value your products provide will determine how often your customers will come back for more. But what happens when customers no longer want a piece of software that you’ve been working on?

  • You released a few new updates with little fanfare.
  • Your competition is starting to eat your lunch.
  • Your customers are starting to switch from your product to the competition’s.
  • You are starting to feel increasingly jealous of your competition.

If your ROI on your software is nonexistent and you’re feeling the above symptoms, there’s one way to really put the hurt on your competition. Release your software as open source. Or at least release it as freeware or a free online tool.

  • Free becomes much more enticing to customers. Some are even starting to expect it. Sure, they’re freeloaders, but this is becoming a market reality.
  • You get goodwill for contributing something free to the market. Watch the search rankings start to climb if you don’t believe me.
  • See what kind of support business you can drum up for your open source release. Eat that lunch until it stops being profitable.
  • If your code was quality enough, the community will want to start supporting and updating the software. This is a big reason why you can’t produce crap. As soon as you’re found out, the game is over.
  • Your competition probably isn’t big enough to compete with a free solution and will start hurting bigtime.
  • You hopefully have been investing in other innovative software that you can sell, right?

Written by Chris Peters, your friendly neighborhood digital marketing professional with over 20 years of experience of web design, programming, SEO, and marketing.