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gorillapaws's avatar

How much is quality software worth to you?

Asked by gorillapaws (26738points) July 15th, 2015

People seem to expect software to be free. Making good software takes a lot of time, money and hard work. Why are people so averse to paying for quality software? If it solves a problem for you, makes your life better, saves you time, or simply entertains you for a while, why doesn’t that hold much monetary value for you?

I know many people who are willing to spend several dollars on a coffee from Starbucks but would never consider spending the same for an app or service that improved their lives or entertained them for hours. If you do spend money on software, do you have a limit for what you’d be willing to spend for an app? What makes software worth spending money on for you?

How do you feel about adds in your software as an alternative to payment?

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20 Answers

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

The answer is not so simple. For most consumers there are free versions of software that will do 95% of what an average user needs. That’s what I do on my computer. My entire OS and all the software is 100% free and it works as well or better than what costs a lot of money.

Smart phone apps I’ll spend a couple of bucks on, up to about ten if it’s really something I’ll use. Many of us spend major $ on video games. That’s software also. The dirty secret is that many smartphone apps makers would rather you just use the free version so they can collect the ad revenue.

jerv's avatar

It depends on how much utility or entertainment I get compared to free alternatives. I’ll pay for a commercial game if it’s good enough to play in the first place, but I won’t spend a penny on an office suite because LibreOffice does what I want/need for free.

DoNotKnow's avatar

I’m a software engineer, so I may be biased.

It seems that most people have no idea what it takes to create software, and they expect it to be free. The odd thing, however, is that they also object to the methods most companies use to make the software “free”. Google, Facebook, etc make money on the data we give them by our activities online. People will complain about privacy but refuse to pay anything – even though they use the software all the time.

The refusal of people to pay for services at all means that we’re voluntarily choosing to pay for these services with data.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@DoNotKnow What you want to run a business and not charge for it? What? You can’t make a living on nothing?

DoNotKnow's avatar

@DoNotKnow: ”@DoNotKnow What you want to run a business and not charge for it? What? You can’t make a living on nothing?”

Huh? Was this comment meant for me? I’m an advocate for making all software and services paid. I love Google services, for example. But if they offered a pay model, I would pay $50/mo because that is how much it is worth it for me. But since people refuse to pay for software (not me – other people), I am stuck with an extra $50/mo in my wallet. I’m paying for Google services with my data.

Re-reading your comment and now I’m wondering if I am just not picking up on the sarcasm, and that maybe you’re just agreeing with me. ?

elbanditoroso's avatar

Yes, not one answer.

I paid $75 for Nuance’s Dragon Naturally Speaking, because it was that good and it provided me a quality product that saved me time and money.

I decided not to pay a cent for Microsoft Office because LibreOffice serves my purposes perfectly and I didn’t want to be beholden to Microsoft for $20/month.

I don’t think one answer fits all. It’s about usefulness and value to the user based on the user’s needs. And we’re all different.

@DoNotKnow – I have no issue paying for software if it works, and it gives me value.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@DoNotKnow Sorry, I didn’t put the tilde in there. When I was in banking one of my instructors said the worst thing you could do is not charge enough for your services. If you’re the best at what you do, but you don’t charge enough and you go out of business, how useful are you?

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@DoNotKnow Yes I was agreeing with you.

ragingloli's avatar

It is not merely a question of what it’s worth to you, but how much you can afford.
A full permanent license of 3ds Max 2016 will cost you 4000€.
Are you, as a hobbyist, or even a small self employed guy, able to shell out that amount of money?
At that is before you add the price of a proper Renderer. Vray will cost you 750€ per machine.

Darth_Algar's avatar


You might be willing to pay $50/month for Google, but Google might not want you to. Maybe they make more than that off you each month under their free model.

Pachy's avatar

I’ll pay full retail price if I need the software badly enough and can’t find a less expensive alternative. That said, I always look for freeware first but am usually disappointed with its quality. One exception is Audacity, which I think is a terrific free audio editor.

elbanditoroso's avatar

@Pachy – agree 100% with Audacity. Have used it for years. Excellent stuff.

jerv's avatar

I’ve never had much luck with Audacity. However, XnView has been great to me; easy to do simple tasks like crop/resize and filters without the complexity or overkill of GIMP.

@ragingloli It seems that 3D rendering adds zeroes to the price of software. CAD/CAM software is also generally pricey; getting a one-year license for MasterCAM can run you $10k. For a hobbyist who is into 3D printing, it doesn’t make sense to blow that sort of money to control a $400 machine that you just use to “doodle” with. In fact, that was an expense that made one of my previous shops (a multi-million dollar company of ~200) take a few days to justify. Were I to set up a shop of my own, I doubt I’d have any choice but to go to freeware solutions.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

I use audacity all the time.

gorillapaws's avatar

It seems like the general consensus is only pay for software if there are no free alternatives of decent enough quality.

jerv's avatar

@gorillapaws When you’re in a competitive market, it all comes down to the least expensive thing that will meet one’s demands. That’s especially true nowadays when many people are living a bit more frugally than years past where we earned the same but our dollars went further.

The reason so many seem to expect software to be free is largely because of how many are willing to give their software away. Those who put in the long hours coding deserve compensation to be sure, but those willing to distribute their work for free already got their asking price, so it’s not like it’s unfair. I’m not going to throw money at Linus Torvalds just because I think Linux is at least as good as the for-profit Windows and OS X operating systems; I’ll pay only the sticker price of $0.00 for my penguin-powered OS.

I’m sure that if there were no FLOSS or anything like that that things would be different.

gorillapaws's avatar

@jerv “When you’re in a competitive market, it all comes down to the least expensive thing that will meet one’s demands”

If that were true, Starbucks would be out of business, so would brands like Saran Wrap and Reynolds Wrap when generic substitutes would work just as well for much less. Surely you own nice things that you enjoy when cheaper (or even free) alternatives exists (tools perhaps?).

There are tons of apps with really polished UIs, great support, etc. for very reasonable prices, and yet it seems those things don’t make much of a difference if a mediocre free alternative exists. It seems like the rules are different for software for some reason.

I love buying software from high-quality indie devs. They put so much love and care into their apps, that it’s a real joy to experience the delightful surprises they pack into their software. I fear if the current trends continue though, these guys may not be able to make a sustainable living as an indie dev.

jerv's avatar

In the case of Starbucks, I know of few people who go in there for just a drip coffee. However, I do know a lot of people who like latte but don’t feel like going through the hassle and expense of getting their own espresso maker and using it themselves. If one’s demands are a fancier cup of coffee than a drip-pot will make by renting a special machine for a few seconds and temporarily hiring a person with specialized skill to operate it in order to save yourself the labor of doing it yourself, then Starbucks meets that demand quite well.

As for generic plastic wrap, that one is a crap shoot as some generic brands are crap; at least Saran Wrap is a known quantity, and many people will pay a little extra for the peace of mind that comes with knowing what you are getting before you open the packaging. Do you know the real reason McDonald’s is so popular? Say what you will, but you can go into just about any McDonald’s anywhere and get the same thing. Some people really value that. Sure, a little restaurant a couple doors down may have far better food by any objective standard for comparable prices, but they are also an unknown quantity and a lot of people aren’t willing to take a risk. To many, not scaring them with a mystery is a non-negotiable part of their demand.

Personally, I love indie devs myself. In fact, I’m more likely to pay for shareware than commercial software, and not just for the price. But you and I are a bit different than the majority of computer users too. Are you frightened that using any browser other than IE will infect you computer with Ebola? Many people are. So when you think about this question, you must also think about how other people have different demands from you and I.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

It depends on why I need the software. If it’s for analysing research, I will pay what I need to pay to get the right software. Some research software is very expensive but it’s recognized as being reliable and accurate. I wouldn’t risk my work being challenged because I used some sort of obscure software.

If I need software to edit a video or for something where the software just has to work, I’ll look for freeware first.

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