Carina Suspends $0.01 Astronomy Software Offer

| Product News

In commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the first Apollo Moon Landing, Carina Software previously announced that its desktop astronomy software, Voyager and SkyGazer for Mac and Windows, would sell for US$0.01 for one day only, Jul 20th. Due to server overloading, Carina has had to suspend that offer. Two iPhone apps remain free for today only.

In a note on its Website, Carina said, in part:

Demand was so high that our automated serial-number generator, which emails serial numbers to customers, was sending out several thousand emails per hour - putting us in violation of our Terms of Service (TOS) agreement, and causing our email service to be suspended....After continued discussion with our web-hosting provider, it is unlikely that we will be able to continue providing our desktop software as one-cent downloads for the remainder of the day. If this situation changes, we will let you know here, first.

The iPhone apps, SkyVoyager and SkyGazer, will remain free on the Apple App store for the rest of the day only.

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I received my registration numbers and I am VERY pleased.

What a wonderful way to give back and to commemorate the Moon landing!

Thanks again Carina!


I was very disappointed.  The site now says you can download the software, but without the ability to buy a license.  I think that the email service excuse is a poor one, and they simply discontinued the offer because they realized that the demand for their product was greater than they knew, and were afraid that the offer was taking away potential buyers.

Well, I, for one, will NOT be buying their software, it is too highly priced, and this withdrawn offer simply smacks of less than honorable intentions.  I wouldn’t buy it now for half the price.


I understand how your feel.  However, offering our $100+ software for $0.01 opened up a floodgate that crippled the company for several hours near the worst possible time.  It’s a day later, and I’m still emailing serial numbers our to the 5300+ customers who purchased them but (due to suspension of our email service) did not receive them from our automated serial number generator.

Even after we suspended the sale, I manually generated serial numbers for essentially all customers who emailed a request for them (several hundred).

Clearly, we did not *want* to withdraw this offer, but it was a question of survival for the company.  If we did not suspend the $0.01 sales immediately, it was made very clear to us by our web hosting provider that our entire account would be suspended - and that would have been much, much worse.

We are still trying to work these issues out on a customer-by-customer basis.  Please feel free to email me at support at carinasoft dot com; perhaps we can accomodate you.


“Demand was so high that our automated serial-number generator, which emails serial numbers to customers, was sending out several thousand emails per hour - putting us in violation of our Terms of Service (TOS) agreement, and causing our email service to be suspended….”

What a poor excuse, I run a hosting company and I know that if I had a customer who had a product that was having a special I would work something out so as long as I know it’s not SPAM being mailed out. Even if you had to stop emailing out serials you could have simply delayed the mailing of those emails, such as Activsion has had to do many times with emailing customers license keys for their offers for free Guitar Hero songs.

This is just simply a matter of a company realizing the demand of their product is higher then they anticipated and didn’t want to lose that prospect of gaining for cash for their over priced software.

I would be ashamed to work for that company after telling people that they are offering a product on a sale for the anniversary of a great event only to try cashing out in the end. I’ll make sure to boycott any software released from your company in the future, and will make sure to let others know that your company will bend backwards to steal a few bucks from potential customers.


owever, offering our $100+ software for $0.01 opened up a floodgate that crippled the company for several hours near the worst possible time.

Then perhaps you should rethink your price points.  A simple graphing exercise from Economics 101 should tell you that your software is vastly overpriced if demand is this high. 

Lowering it to less stratospheric heights should ramp up sales to the point where volume can make up for that lower price point.

The fact here is that your cessation of the special and failure to fix the issue has damaged your company’s reputation, which is quite the opposite of what I am sure your intentions were.  Just a little calm reflective thinking should have resulted in a fix that wouldn’t have broken the bank but still satisfied customers and kept your host happy too.  You are, after all, THEIR customer, and if they cannot accommodate you, they could lose your business.

I’ll have to think about your offer.



I’m sorry you feel that way.  FWIW, I’d contacted our web hosting provider several days before, and had our account upgraded to unlimited bandwidth.  The emails-per-hour limitation was something neither of us foresaw.  We’ve simply never tried anything like this before.  Our average daily sale rate is 1-2 copies/day.  I expected we’d “sell” maybe a few hundred copies - not more than 5,000 in 3 hours.

In the middle of this, the only options our ISP presented to us were to switch to a dedicated server - which wasn’t going to happen, as the sale was already in progress, and the switchover would have taken several hours.

We kept the iPhone app pricing free for the duration of the day - no difficulties there.  I’m not sure how that fits your argument about “stealing future sales.”

In the last 24 hours I’ve personally sent out more than 600 serial number emails.  Our PayPal proceeds for the entire day came to about $75.  We shipped nearly 100,000 iPhone apps; our proceeds were exactly $0.  If that qualifies as “stealing from customers”, let me know what dictionary you’re getting the word from.

Having said that - if you, personally, were burned yesterday, send an email request to support at carinasoft dot com.  We’ll accomodate you.


The emails-per-hour limitation was something neither of us foresaw.?

Then I’d say your host over-reacted, if they threatened you with suspension.  After all, you’ve alerted them to an increased amount of traffic, and I’d be terribly disappointed in a vendor that, instead of accommodating me in a time of need, threatened to cut me off!  I’d be looking for a new host as of this morning.  (Call the Paracast, I understand they are very happy with their hosting company.)

I didn’t make the argument about the iPhone app, that is very reasonably priced, I’ve bought a couple of apps for that amount, and I have been very happy with them at that cost.  I do understand from your explanation how frustrated you must be.

But please look at it from the other side.  All WE saw was the sale stop, and for most of the day, those of us that weren’t up at the wee hours to hear about it lost any opportunity to take advantage of your largesse.  At the end of the day, what did we see?  A curt apology with the offer of a crippled unlicensed copy.

Now chances are, I would not have bought your software at the high price you sell it at.  I am not a devoted amateur astronomer, but the features you offer are attractive, and I probably would have liked using it for the occasions when it would have been useful to me, so the offer of a very low cost transaction sounded cool.

However, should software like yours be offered at a lower cost, say in the $50 - $60 range, I’d buy it because I do believe in supporting developers that make good software.  But that’s my own feelings, not meant to drive a business, so I understand the difference.  (I can be cheap when my prime interests are not involved.)  In the end here, I am not really looking for a freebie.

But again, the lack of what I see as a good faith effort to salvage a bad situation leaves a bad taste in my mouth, as it probably does others.


Now that I’ve been able to come up for air:

Agreed on the hosting ? we are considering a change of providers indeed.  I’ve had emails from other customers who expressed similar experiences.  Unfortunately none of these solutions were possible in the moment, and the best we could do was suspend that portion of the promotion and communicate the situation on our website. My apologies if it sounded curt ? at the time we were in a hurry and still trying to assess the details of the problem while simultaneously figure out how to accommodate everyone who was already participating and waiting for response.  It was quite a morning.

Carinasoft has a very strong and long-term reputation in the field, I believe in great part due to the fact that we’re all amateur astronomers.  Please understand that it pains us that this effort to both promote our products and celebrate an event that is important to us has caused any trouble for the people who use our products ? especially for those who are new and not yet familiar with us.  We and our service were simply overwhelmed by the scale of the response.  For now, our first order of business is to manually complete all of those transactions to satisfy those who are patiently waiting.

Afterwards we will definitely be looking at some changes, some of which are in line with what you suggest.

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Thanks for the post. Great info, I learned alot.

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