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Fri 18 Jul 2003

Going Round The World

Category : Commentary/roundtheworld.txt

I found a user interface bug in Sendmail Enabler and used this chance to figure out what happens when you need to release an updated version on MacUpdate.

I'm impressed with the speed in which you can turn this thing around. I started working on the bug fix at around 9.30 pm and, by midnight, having completed a triple round of testing, I was ready to re-submit it to MacUpdate. (It was a stupid bug; though it's free, you still want it to be perfect).

The re-submission process was remarkably easy - if you take care to keep to your side of the bargain by checking that the download links are correct and writing the description in neat clear English. Mess up and you only have yourself to blame. But, do it right, and your changes are up in a matter of minutes. The system works and it's so neat. You get back what you put in but there's no free lunch.

I wish more users will understand this principle about technology. Too many people just want to be spoon-fed ("but what if I forget to update this or that, can your system somehow prompt me?"). Hey, we're all adults. That's never going to work.

I love this mode of operations. It dis-intermediates all the in-between elements that add no value. You save on making physical disks, shrink-wrapped boxes, hard-copy manuals. In fact, you save a whole lot of the earth. You don't need to negotiate with software distributors, or fight for space in computer superstores. You save on shipping. You just ship the bits and they get sucked in wherever they're needed.

Look at the economics. You cut a huge chunk of the costs out of making and distributing software. So you can sell it much cheaper than ever before. You can make a free "lite" version that is useful enough for people to use. Yet you can try out different price points for a more full-featured product until you reach a level that can sustain further investment on the product. You can do this with a very small team of developers. Yet you can use technology (like bulletin boards and mailing lists) to support your users and keep them in a dialogue, so you will know what they will like, so you can continue to make what they will buy.

When you can keep the overheads down, even a market (supposedly small) like the Mac can give you enough volume to do worthwhile work. And you're performing on a world stage right from day one. That's the exciting part.

The world is in flux. Always. Nothing remains still. Next time you read technology writers who write with great certainty, ask yourself how much they've immersed themselves in the slip stream. Maybe it's just as well they write what they write. It's great, the dusty confusion they generate. You get a better view when you're lower at the ground.

There's a multiplier effect at work when you put stuff out in places like MacUpdate or Version Tracker. I've noticed that other sites have picked up on the links, and they've kept up-to-date even with the bug fix releases (wonder how they do that). Examples are faq-mac.com, download.com, and even a Japanese weblog, here. See what I mean about going round the world?

Posted at 2:09PM UTC | permalink


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