Monday, December 31, 2012

Free SmartPhone Apps

Eighty-nine percent of the apps downloaded during 2012 were free programs. So says Gartner in a study that was printed in the October 5, 2012 issue of Processor Magazine.

Developers of smartphone apps use a "novel" concept called in-app purchasing. Identical in almost every way to the 25-year-old concept of shareware marketing, in-app purchases allow users to try the free version, and only buy an application after they've tried it.

By 2016, Gartner predicts, in-app purchases will account for 41 percent of store revenue at the various smartphone and tablet app stores. They also predict that 30% of the total downloads will be for apps that use this not-so-novel in-app purchasing model.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Write with Strong Verbs

Verbs are important. Don't turn them into nouns.

That advice comes from Robert Gunning and Richard A. Kallan, the authors of the book "How to Take the Fog out of Business Writing."

The authors provide examples of how strong verbs become weak noun phrases, resulting in weaker sales messages.
  • Say "conclude" and not "come to a conclusion."
  • Say "estimate" and not "offer an estimation."
Verbs sell.

Craft your sales presentation with powerful verbs, and you'll increase your software sales.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

HP's Lessons for Software Developers

Book review of The HP Way - How Bill Hewlett and I Built Our Company by David Packard (published 1995 by HarperCollins).

Bill Hewlett and David Packard met at Stanford University in 1930. They started Hewlett-Packard in 1939. "The HP Way" is their name for the management style that they developed and used to run HP for decades. The principles that HP emphasized were hiring the best people, motivating them, and working together as a team. While these principles seem ordinary today, these were revolutionary ideas in a time when big business was all wrapped up in its hierarchical management and control systems.

Bill Hewlett and David Packard started their company in a garage. In 1989, that garage became a California Historical Landmark. It is called the "birthplace of Silicon Valley."

Sometimes people just get lucky. Everybody knows that selecting a company name is a very important decision. Bill Hewlett and David Packard flipped a coin. Hewlett won. And the company name became Hewlett-Packard.

Today, we think of H-P as a computer and printer company. But their its product was an audio oscillator.

David Packard describes the firm's early adventures. The two founders were hands-on do-it-yourselfers. Their electric products required panels, and they fabricated these panels themselves, by hand, one at a time.

Packard took two college courses at night - Business Law and Management Accounting. In the software development industry, too many microISVs believe that success mainly depends on their tech skills. Even back in the late 1930s, you had to have both business and technical skills to succeed. And both of H-P's founders took the time to learn the necessary skills.

As far back as 1939, H-P's founders believed that their company wouldn't thrive if they had just one product. So, they set a goal to offer multiple products. 1939 was their first full year in business. They grossed $5,369 in sales, and netted $1,563 in profits. Now that's a modest start to their story - a long story with a happy ending.

This book is a quick read, and it delivers a lot of insights about growing a small business - such as a software development business - into a larger one.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Press Releases Versus Advertisements

Press releases need to be part of your software marketing strategy. Press releases are a very cost-effective vehicle compared with buying clicks, banner ads, print ads, broadcast ads, brochures, directories, contests, sweepstakes, seminars, sponsorships, trade shows, postal mail, catalogs, and other techniques to generate sales.

When prospects read your advertisements, they know that the sales message was bought and paid for. But when they read a press release about your software, the readers may not be aware that your company initiated the process by sending the editor a press release. And they may or may not realize that distributing your New Product Announcement is just the beginning of the press release process.

An independent editor, columnist, or blogger has chosen your news release for printing or for posting on their website. The press release is seen as the editor's description of your software. The publicity that you get from submitting press releases is more believable than your paid advertisements. Trusted editors' endorsements can inspire many software purchases.

Press releases make your software stand out from the crowd.

Hire a press release professional, and target your news releases to the bloggers and editors who cover software like yours. These journalists can tell thousands of their readers about your program. Press releases cost a fraction of the cost of advertising. Learn more about my affordable press release writing and distribution services for software developers.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Consumers and Windows 8

Fifty-two percent of adult Americans have never heard of Windows 8.

According to a poll taken by the Associated Press and reported in Processor Magazine, Microsoft is doing a good job of getting into the minds of IT managers in larger enterprises. But home users don't know a lot about Windows 8.

Of the people who have heard of Windows 8,
  • 39% are interested in owning a Windows 8 notebook or desktop PC
  • 35% say that Windows 8 might be an improvement over Windows 7.
Any software publisher besides Microsoft would be delighted to have numbers like these. I'm guessing that Microsoft will pour some serious revenue into ad campaigns to get these numbers higher.

Friday, December 14, 2012

MainType Wins 2012 Epsilon Award

High-Logic B.V.'s MainType was named the winner of the 2012 Epsilon Award for software excellence at the 12th annual European Software Conference. Each year, The Epsilon Award recognizes the best software application from the European software and microISV community.

MainType takes the frustration out of managing your Windows fonts. Using drag and drop, MainType lets you find, preview, organize, install, and print your fonts. Unlike simple font preview applications, MainType is designed for graphic artists, typographers, and other power users who demand high-end functionality such as network support, plug-ins, advanced categorizing and searching capabilities, and fast searches for the fonts that they need.

The new database structure allows MainType to start processing fonts immediately, and results in substantially improved processing speed, even on systems with tens of thousands of fonts. The database design makes it simple to back up and restore your font library. Network support allows access to fonts that are stored on a network drive.

MainType 5 runs under Windows 8/7/Vista/XP/2003/2000, and costs $39(US) for a single-user license of the Standard Edition and $79 for the Professional Edition. For more information, contact High-Logic B.V., Tuinstraat 60, 3732 VM De Bilt, The Netherlands. www.high-logic.com.

The Epsilon Award's second-place winner was Cosmin Unguru's BatchPhoto.

The 13th annual European Software Conference will be held November 2nd and 3rd, 2013 in Venice, Italy.

Additional information about the Epsilon Award, and about the European Software Conference, can be found on www.euroconference.org

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Software Marketing Glossary Updates

DP Directory's Software Marketing Glossary continues to grow and provide marketing advice for microISVs. The Glossary isn't just a collection of short definitions. It's a library of marketing insights, feature-length articles, and money-making marketing tips for software developers, with enough "attitude" and illustrations to make it fun.

The latest Glossary updates include -

BYOD

"Bring your own device" or BYOD is a growing consideration for today's IT managers in companies of all sizes. More and more, employees are bringing their smartphones and tablets to work, and using them on their companies' networks. The policy decisions of business IT managers will have a huge impact on which smartphones and tablets gain acceptance in the business marketplace. BYOD will determine the winners and losers, and will have a huge effect on software developers' incomes.

Consumerization

Consumerization is the recent trend in which the latest hardware and software are first introduced into the consumer marketplace. After a new technology is accepted by home users, it finds its way into the business environment.

This is a new trend. Handheld calculators were first built for the business and government marketplaces. As calculators gained acceptance, and mass production drove down prices, calculators were sold to consumers, too.

Consumerization changed everything. Smartphones and tablets were first introduced into the end-user marketplace. Only later did businesses start to determine how these devices should be used at work.

Consumerization, like BYOD, will help determine marketplace winners and users. So information about consumerization and BYOD should shape software developers' decisions about which platform to support for future development efforts.

Scratching

Choreographer, dancer, and businesswoman Twyla Tharp defines "scratching" as the seemingly random searches for fodder that we all engage in when working on a new project. Learn more about how software developers should search for creative inspiration when developing and marketing applications.

Negotiation

Even if you're a software developer with no plans to buy or sell a software company, or to create a strategic partnership with another microISV, you need to know how to deal with software industry suppliers, vendors, colleagues, and other stakeholders. Learn more about negotiation in the Glossary.

The Software Marketing Glossary is huge, fun, and full of money-making ideas for software developers.

Please check it out!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Selling Cars, Selling Software

Book review of Guts - The seven laws of business that made Chrysler the world's hottest car company by Robert A. Lutz (published 1998 by John Wiley & Sons).

We've all heard the story of Chrysler's financial problems, the work that Lee Iacocca did to save the corporation, and the $1.2 billion US federal loan guarantee that helped bring Chrysler back to health.

We know a lot less about Robert A. Lutz, the former President and Vice Chairman of Chrysler Corporation. Lutz saved Chrysler from its second financial crisis in the early 1990s. "Guts" is Bob Lutz's story of how he handled with Chrysler's second crisis.

It's a fascinating story, with a lot of implications for the software development industry.

One of the big differences between Chrysler and Honda, Lutz discovered, was the attitude that each company had when dealing with stakeholders.
  • Honda fostered trust throughout their corporation. Chrysler's relationships, on the other hand, were built on a lack of trust.
  • Honda trusted suppliers and dealers. Chrysler treated these stakeholders as the enemy.
  • Honda empowered its workers to make decisions at every level in the organization. Chrysler micromanaged its employees.
As part of the recovery of Chrysler, Lutz turned around these destructive attitudes. For example, before Lutz took over, Chrysler didn't have many positive relationships with its suppliers. During every annual planning cycle, Chrysler demanded cost reductions from suppliers, without working together to figure out how these cost savings could be possible.
Lutz invited suppliers into meetings at Chrysler, and made them part of the decision-making team. Lutz worked with them to find a way to minimize waste that was raising costs for both groups. As an incentive, Chrysler let the suppliers keep half of the cost savings that they were able to squeeze out of the these negotiations. Attitudes got better, too, as Chrysler continued to treat suppliers as valued partners.

There's a lot to be learned from the stories in "Guts." The software industry does not have a great track record of developers and vendors playing well together. Everybody would benefit if stakeholders mutually supported each other.

Lutz is certain that all of these ideas helped Chrysler heal. But the main reason that Chrysler was able to regain its strength was their focus on the four P's of marketing - price, place, promotion, and product. In the software development industry, we can all benefit from paying more attention to basics, too.

It was solid products and solid business fundamentals that brought Chrysler back to life. Again. The principles that Lutz discusses can also strengthen players in the software development industry.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Scratching and Selling Software

Twyla Tharp defines "scratching" as the seemingly random searches for fodder that we all engage in when working on a new project. She depends upon scratching when she's drawing upon her 35-year career as a dancer, choreographer, and businessperson to look for creative inspiration for a new dance for her company. And every software developer has to scratch for creative ideas when looking for inspiration to create a new software application.
 
Tharp describes the scratching process in depth in her 2003 book "The Creative Habit - Learn it and use it for life." She believes that creativity comes from preparation and hard work. All of us can learn the skills needed to become more creative.
 
Scratching can look a lot like copying, Tharp tells us, as we read books and look at other people's work for inspiration. Developers often look at existing applications as the basis for discovering new programs to write. As in all fields, Tharp tells us, we're surrounded by ideas. Some are good and some are much less so.
 
It's often difficult to tell a good idea from a bad one, Tharp warns. And in fact, some people are very good at turning bad ideas into good ideas. Tharp believes that you can't have a good idea until you combine at least two ideas to form something new.
 
Interestingly, Tharp believes that it's not possible to scratch for big ideas. You start the creative process by finding little ideas and by helping them grow. Scratching is rather like improvising. Tharp believes that improvising is a great way to scratch for ideas, and build them into something big.
 
Tharp suggests a few ways that we can all scratch for new ideas -
  • The most common source of ideas is reading.
  • Everyday chatting with friends and colleagues, in person or in online forums, is a powerful source of scratching.
  • Tap the ideas of your mentors, and use them as a source for your ideas. The danger, of course, is that you could find yourself copying your mentors' ideas. It takes discipline to keep your ideas fresh and original.
  • Find ideas in nature. Ideas are all around us.
Tharp offers some practical rules for scratching -
  • Get in shape and stay in shape. To scratch for creative ideas, you have to think creatively on a regular basis. Stay in creative shape, and you'll be able to come up with new ideas more readily.
  • Look for ideas in the best places possible. Listen to great music. Enjoy great art. Read the best books. Don't waste your time with second-tier raw material. Become inspired by the best ideas.
  • Scratch in new places. Don't waste time looking for ideas in the same tired, old places. Looking in the archives of the huge download sites isn't going to help you find the next innovative software application.
  • Scratch with a passion. Stay emotional about your work. Don't believe that the search for creative ideas is a dull and boring left-brain search.
The hardest part of being creative is knowing how and where to get started, Tharp believes. One solution that she suggests is to get out and walk around. If you're not developing fresh ideas, then visit new places, and let this new environment inspire you. Practice searching for creative ideas. Over time, you learn to find good ideas everywhere.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Naming Your Software Application

It doesn't matter what you name your new product or your new company. All of your friends will hate the name.

So says Seth Godin in his book "Small is the New Big."

Godin might be right. Or he might be basing his conclusion on the reaction that his friends had to his naming his new website Squidoo.com.

Dennis Volodomanov, the author of KooRaRoo Media, has thought a lot about naming his application. KooRaRoo Media is a Windows application that makes it simple to enjoy your movies, music, and photos on a wide range of devices in your home, including modern TVs, BluRay players (BDPs), games consoles (PS3 and XBox360), mobile tablets, smartphones, and dedicated media players that support DLNA.

"There's no chance that prospects or customers will confuse KooRaRoo Media with the blah names that my competitors have chosen for their multimedia file server applications," Dennis explains. "And with a name like KooRaRoo, it's easy to find write-ups in Google," Dennis adds. "Imagine how difficult it would be to find your search engine write-ups if your software has a generic name made up of common, descriptive words." 

Seth Godin tells us not to choose a name based on the meaning of the words in the name. Instead, find words that remind you of something.

That's exactly what Dennis did when naming his software. Based in Australia, Dennis wanted a program name that evoked images of kookaburras and kangaroos. And that's how he arrived at KooRaRoo Media.

Jack Trout might like the sound of "KooRaRoo Media." Trout dedicated a chapter of his book "The New Positioning" to the notion that minds work by ear.

Without exception, all of the successful positioning campaigns that Trout studied when researching his book were verbal, and not visual - or at least not exclusively visual. Images alone don't seem to be an effective way to position your product, Trout tells us.

Trout believes that spoken words are much more effective than written words. The mind hangs onto spoken words longer than it saves written words. And spoken words can convey emotion as well as cognitive meaning.

If you think it will be difficult to turn the strangely-named KooRaRoo Media into a success story, think about the equally strangely-named search engine called Google!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Edit Your Software Sales Messages

Business people should  edit their work in manuscript form, and not on the computer. So says Hank Nuwer in his book "How to Write like an Expert about Anything - Bring Factual Accuracy and the Voice of Authority to Your Writing." Nuwer's reasoning, which made a lot of sense when he published his book in 1995, is that printed pages are closer to how readers will see our articles.

In today's world, of course, the opposite is true. Most articles will be read online. Still, I agree that it's easier to read your printed article and mark it up.

Get out of the office when you read and edit your article, Nuwer advises. Read it aloud. Personally, I've found that reading my writing aloud does two things -
  • Reading my articles aloud lets me find a lot of the typos and other errors that I've made.
  • And reading it aloud frustrates me because it's easy to read somebody else's words slowly, but I find it painful to read my own words aloud at a normal reading pace, i.e., slowly.
Nuwer tells us that early drafts of our articles are usually too verbose.

Don't use too many quotations, Nuwer warns. Don't use a quotation just because you spent time and effort getting it. Make every quotation significant and meaningful. Quotations, Nuwer reminds us, can be used effectively to break up paragraph after paragraph of exposition.

The author is very unhappy about writers' use of the word "very". Very unhappy!

Whether you're writing articles for your blog, website, eBook, or customer emails, you should edit them as carefully as you would if you were submitting them to an outside editor. Your readers will appreciate the extra work. And it's good software marketing.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Choosing a Mobile Development Platform

There are a lot of discussions about how to choose the development platform that software developers should use for development and marketing of tablet and smartphone apps. The main considerations for microISVs include market penetration, the effectiveness of the platform's online app store, the typical retail price of apps for each platform, and the quality of the development tools that are available.

Before finalizing your decision, though, take a serious look at two issues that businesses are worried about, from the smallest startup to the largest Fortune-100 enterprise: Consumerization and BYOD.

Consumerization

Consumerization is a relatively recent trend in which the latest hardware and software is first introduced into the consumer marketplace. After the new technology gains acceptance there, it finds its way into the business world.

Consumerization is a relatively recent trend in which the latest hardware and software is first introduced into the consumer marketplace. After the new technology gains acceptance there, it finds its way into the business world.

That's not the way it used to be. Handheld calculators were first built for - and priced for - the business and government marketplaces. As they gained acceptance, and mass production allowed prices to drop significantly, calculators were sold to consumers, too.

It was the same with computers. Prior to the introduction of personal computers, all data processing technology was first introduced into the business community. After the technology gained a foothold and prices dropped, the equipment became affordable enough for small businesses. Personal computing technology made a similar voyage from business use to home use.

With consumerization, items like smartphones and tablets were first introduced into the end-user marketplace. Only later have businesses started to determine how these devices should be used at work.

This new consumerization trend is changing the way IT managers do business today. And it affects microISVs' decisions regarding which platform to select for their tablet and smartphone development work.
If you choose, say, iOS and the majority of the business world selects a particular flavor of Android, then your choice will hurt your income stream.

BYOD

"Bring your own device" or BYOD is a huge consideration for today's IT managers in firms of all sizes. Regardless of whether or not an enterprise has a BYOD policy in place, it's a fact: Employees are bringing their smartphones and tablets to work, and using them on their companies' networks.

In the May 4, 2012 issue of Processor magazine, an article cites a recent study by IDC on the BYOD trend in companies worldwide.  Nearly half of the businesses surveyed (49.5%) had no BYOD policy in place. Twenty-seven percent were testing a pilot BYOD policy. A little over ten percent had a policy that was currently being implemented. And only 13.1% had their BYOD policy in place.

Many IT managers are starting to think about the costs and security issues that surround the use of smartphones and tablets at work. Some of the IT managers are even asking the basic question: Will the company benefit if some or most of its employees use their personal mobile devices on the company network?

A more recent survey, published in the August 24, 2012 issue of Processor magazine, sheds some light on the costs of BYOD. Lieberman Software surveyed IT managers who already allow BYOD in their companies. They found that 67 percent of respondents said that BYOD has resulted in higher expenses. Of the people who said that their costs have increased,
  • 42 percent said that employees' devices caused a virus
  • 26 percent said that employees lost their device
  • 22 percent said that employees stole data from the company
  • 10 percent had no answer or a combination of responses
IT support is another huge issue surrounding BYOD. And the notion of supporting the Android market is frightening to a lot of IT directors. If your BYOD policy allows Android devices to be used in the workplace, then you're going to have to support a wide variety of hardware designs, a significant number of operating system versions, a wider array of malware with the potential to disrupt individual devices as well as the entire network, multiple data backup and restoration regimens, and a lot of applications that may only run on certain proprietary mobile devices.

Because of the support complexities of Android, the iPad, with its well-defined hardware specifications and the orderly rollout of software, is likely to be the choice of many IT policy makers. Microsoft's introduction of Windows 8 will have a major impact on BYOD decisions.

I'm not suggesting that software developers abandon Android and jump on the iPad or Windows 8 bandwagons. There are a number of ways that corporate support for mobile devices might evolve, and these choices will ultimately affect the overall market penetration for each group of mobile devices -

(1) BYOD with no rules

Some enterprises will establish a BYOD policy that allows all employees to bring their favorite tablets and smartphones to work. In fact, many workplaces will have "BYOD with no rules" as their de facto policy because they simply won't adopt any policy.

(2) BYOD policies for each operating unit

Some companies will let each operating unit establish its own policy for mobile devices. While this sounds like a reasonable plan, those of us who watched the introduction of PCs into the business world in the early 1980s will remember the chaos that followed.

In the early 1980s, I was doing application development work for a Fortune-200 insurance company in greater Hartford Connecticut. The insurance industry didn't buy TRS-80 or Apple-II machines when they came out. But they quickly stuck their corporate toes in the IBM PC waters when these new machines became available.

Back then, each operating unit decided which software to buy. The two hot word processors were Word and WordPerfect. The three best-selling databases were dBASE, Paradox and R:Base. Spreadsheets included VisiCalc, Lotus 1-2-3, and eventually Quattro.

IT support quickly became a nightmare. The IT people were expected to be conversant in multiple versions of all of these complicated applications. We'll see similar support problems if BYOD policies evolve at the operating unit level.

(3) Corporate standards for mobile devices

In many companies in the mid-1980s, the nightmare described above evolved into the implementation of rigid corporate standards for both hardware and software applications. Corporations made centralized decisions on which technology would be implemented and supported. If you used a non-supported application and you had a problem, you were on your own to find a solution. If you used a non-supported application and it crashed the operating system or interfered with supported applications, you had a more serious problem.

Within a few years, the companies' IT departments pre-installed all of the accepted software on every machine that was placed on employees' desks, and workers were not allowed to install their own utilities, business applications, or games.

Which platform is right for you?

Turning the calendar forward to 2012 - What will today's corporations do about consumerization and BYOD? The iPad is today's safest bet. If a significant percentage of large enterprises lock into Windows 8 or into Apple's technology, the Android-based competitors are going to have a difficult time gaining or keeping market share. But don't expect large enterprises to find the most logical path.

The decision of large enterprises certainly shouldn't be the only criterion that you use to decide which platform to use for your app software development. But it's an important data point. Keep track of which way the corporate IT wind is blowing when it comes to consumerization and BYOD, and factor their policies into your hardware and software decisions.