ACD (Another Commenter Deciphered)
To describe a software do I really need it in my hands or not? Can the manual be enough? If the program, as described by its own manual, doesn't attract me, the direct experience is going to be even more disappointing. I haven't the ACD processor, nor I have the manual, I only have Ryan's blog. This is the third time I am citing it, because it's a mine of precious information. Strangely enough, when Ryan praises his product, he brings forward such arguments that make me conclude I can never like it. I will try to write a review of ACD exclusively based on Ryan's blog. To start with, today I am commenting what I find to be his best post: The Price of NMR Software. There Ryan is able to engage the reader and, at the same time, to hide the most important facts.
Ryan: "Some people have a pre-conceived idea that no matter how good a piece of software is, it shouldn't cost more than $500."
It depends on what they are going to do with the software and it depends on the price of the alternatives. If they use the NMR software only to avoid sitting in front of the spectrometer (which is the case of 99% of the chemists I know) they are perfectly right. To attract them, you must make a good product that costs less than 500. If you are only able to create specialized and advanced tools that cost much more, a thing that you still have to prove to myself, sell your stuff to the few ones who really need them, don't try to convince the rest of us. I have a driving license and second-hand Opel Corsa 1.0. Was I supposed to own a Rolls-Royce? Would it make a difference?
Ryan: "The cost of supporting the software and the customer base. i.e. product management, development, technical support, sales, marketing, production, etc."
I am ready to pay for development & technical support and that's all. I also know a lot of people who don't care or renounce to technical support. I don't want to pay for a sales-agent. I don't want to pay for advertisement. I don't want to pay for that University which, in your press release, stated that the ACD processor was cheap (the cheaper was for them, the most expensive is going to be for me...).
Ryan: "We have many, many customers from all over the world. To name a few: ..."
Then you cite Menarini Ricerche, the company where I worked from January 15 1990 until July 15 2007 and where I never used nor bought any of your products. Are you sure you sold anything related to NMR there?
Ryan "Why wouldn't we share our prices publicly?"
I don't think that's a problem. Whoever wants to know the price can ask a quotation. The real annoyance for the customer is when he discovers that not all customers pay the same price. The same happens, for example, with many 4 star hotels. Only a few unlucky customers pay the full price. For a reason or another, the lucky ones pay the half. I am not curious to know how much you will ask me, I am curious to know how much the University of XX paid!
Ryan: "We've sold to these companies and institutions and we have survived more than 11 years in this industry selling and supporting our software in many of the above institutions and more. I don't think we would have come this far if our software was flat out "too expensive"."
But you also wrote: "Unfortunately, there are also cases where users just haven't found the software useful for their research, or haven't even gotten around to installing it yet." which means that some people were convinced by your shows and demonstrations, not by first-hand experience. Or it means that it was the boss of the department to buy the program, against the will of the researcher.
You forget that today we have the internet. It can directly connect the creator with the consumer, by-passing the middle man. Before the internet, only 10-20% of the price of the program could arrive at the creator. Today we can reach 90-100%. It means that the same product can cost from 5 to 9 times less. The internet also means that a patch (or a new version) can be released in a couple of hours; as a consequence, testing is much less critical and time-consuming than it used to be. Will people always be happy to pay 5 times more only for the sake of the middle man? Only to receive the CD into a box? Do they really need a major update each year? Get Real! GET REAL!