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Apple Helps Bring Software-On-Demand To Apple Developers In CompUSA

Apple Helps Bring Software-On-Demand To Apple Developers In CompUSA

by , 12:00 PM EST, March 12th, 2003

The Apple Developer Connection (ADC) has rolled out a new publishing vehicle for Mac developers that places unprecedented options for developers and consumers alike at CompUSA retail locations. The new service is in conjunction with SoftwareToGo, and basically brings software-on-demand to the Mac market.

SoftwareToGo is a publishing system where consumers browse through selections at a kiosk in CompUSA locations, decide what they want, and then have a product-specific CD and case produced for them in the store. This eliminates the need for packaging costs, as well as distribution costs, two barriers that keep the vast majority of software producers out of the retail space. Apple's ADC Web site says that there are no up-front costs for developers to participate, with developers getting a percentage from each sale.

Apple's involvement in SoftwareToGo brings Mac OS X support to the kiosk-style delivery system, placing Mac developers and consumers on even footing with their Windows counterparts. From Apple's SoftwareToGo Web site.

Benefits to Developers/Publishers
Developers/Publishers are paid a license fee per product vended with no up-front costs for participation in the SoftwareToGo program.

Developers enjoy increased sales and margins by combining the best of virtual inventory and physical delivery. Consider the possibilities:

  • Unlimited shelf space provides the ability to offer entire software catalogs.
  • Items are never out-of-stock (even sold out shelved products remain conveniently available on the SoftwareToGo system).
  • Make electronic upgrades and updates easily available.
  • No handling, shipping, obsolete stock or close-out costs.
  • No inventory investment, and yet your customer receives the physical product at the time of purchase.

How is Intellectual Property Protected?
All software residing on the SoftwareToGo system is encrypted.

  • Decryption keys are issued via a secure Internet connection once a consumer has paid for the software product and store personnel have initiated an order.
  • A unique serial number is given to each product vended.
  • End user documentation is included on the CD by way of a PDF file.

Check out the ADC site for more information on participating in this program. Consumers curious about SoftwareToGo will also find information of relevance at Apple's SoftwareToGo site at the ADC.

Also note that Apple's World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) is coming up. Developers interested in working with SoftwareToGo may wish to consider checking out the WWDC, as well as joining the Apple Developer Connection.

The Mac Observer Spin:

This is the sort of thing that was long ago promised in music delivery, but has yet to make much of an appearance: Go to the store, pick your music, burn your customized CD. The software angle is different, but no less important, especially to smaller developers.

Getting shelf space in a retail store is very, very expensive. Publishers have to effectively buy their shelf space, and packaging and distribution costs eat up much of the revenue from sales. That knocks the vast majority of developers out of the running from the get-go, which was how and why shareware development started in the first place. The problem with shareware is that most people don't pay for it. Software-on-demand at retail locations could change all that, at least for some developers. This could be the beginning of a major shift in the way some applications are brought to market, and if consumers are willing to buy some of their software in this manner, that could mean more and better development.

Consumers have not always been that receptive to change, however, and it can not be ignored that consumers, especially US consumers, love product packaging. There is a lot of perceived value that goes into seeing a boxed software title on a store shelf. SoftwareToGo is not going to change that overnight, but it's a step.

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