As another season of MacHeist comes, yet again the blogosphere is up in arms crying foul.

A recent post by Marco Arment captured my attention.

The argument has been done to death the first season, no need to go over it again. But there’s a few things so fundamentally wrong with his argument that I have to call him out on it.

It’s the usual Phill Ryu publicity stunt that will result in a bunch of blog attention, a few developers selling licenses at very steep discounts, and a token charitable donation to downplay the hundreds of thousands of dollars that Ryu will likely walk away with.

Firstly, having worked with and for MacHeist personally, I can tell you first hand that it isn’t just a one-man show. There’s a much bigger team of Directorate, Coders, Designers and more, as you can see on their about page. Phill Ryu is best known as the public face of MacHeist, because it is his role. But by no means is it his own personal cash crop.

Secondly, specific numbers aside, donating 25% percent of revenues to charity is certainly not a “token donation.” A quarter of any revenue is not to be taken lightly. Now, granted it might be a marketing tool, but don’t let that negate the fact that charity does end up with a pretty huge donation in the end. MacHeist donated $500,000 last year, and this year looks like it might be getting a full million.

a previous MacHeist offered developers about $5,000 per application for sales that eventually grossed over $300,000

Now, this is just plain false. This is unconfirmed data and is based merely on rumors. It might very well have been the case, but do not parade it as fact, and do keep in mind that at the time a $5000 flat offer for an unknown business model that could very well end up in a flop was a pretty serious risk to take. The MacHeist guys did in fact claim that the numbers were much higher. Either way, this argument has gone back and forth enough the first season.

But the part that really gets on my nerves is this:

Their developers can tell themselves that it’s a good deal and it’s worth eating the discount to gain exposure.

We — and I say that as a developer who participated in a previous MacHeist bundle — are old enough to tell what’s good for us. What we especially don’t need is outsiders telling us we’re being ripped off. We’re running a serious business, and trust me when I say that we do not take such decisions lightly. What’s worse is that the person giving this argument is not even a Mac developer, according to his blog.

What you need to understand is that MacHeist is a business. We developers also run businesses. The keyword here is business. We don’t take these decisions on emotional value. We take these decisions because we judge that they will be beneficial to our businesses. We have to consider many things: The price of supporting and distributing thousands of licenses; (Please note that not all MacHeist sales actually mean an extra user for the developer. Many customers buy the bundle just for a specific app.) The actual (flat or percentage) monetary revenue we make out of it; The exposure we gain; The image this gives off the app.

Additionally, I’d like to prove this by giving the example of Gus Mueller. In the first season, he was offered a deal, which he declined, because he perceived it as a bad business decision. On the other head, he accepted the deal this time around with Acorn, because this time his perception of the new deal was different.

I have one thing to ask you, and that is not to believe when people tell you the developers are being ripped off. Rather make the decision to purchase the bundle on whether it has enough value for you to justify $39.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 25th, 2009 at 4:32 pm and is filed under Business, English, Internet, Rants. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
Add your thoughts!
Dan Palmer asserts
March 25th, 2009 at 8:55 pm

The way I see it is that it comes down to two types of bundle customers. Type 1 uses your (the developer) application. They use the app because they like it and when you bring out a new version, they will probably upgrade. Type 2 does not like you application. They don’t use it. They don’t cost you anything and you made some money from them buying it and got some publicity from it anyway.

So either you get paid to be given LOADS of customers ready to upgrade to the next version, or you get paid for nothing. Either way, you get paid and get publicity with a famous aspect of the mac community.

Also, I would like to point out that the ‘small time devs’ that apparently would get the ‘worst’ deal actually do very well. They get loads of free marketing, a large cash payment that could be more than their revenue for the year anyway and the upgraders too. Plus it would look very good on a CV!

In my opinion as a rookie developer, I would love for one of my apps to be in the bundle and may approach MH next year for inclusion as a loot app if I have something decent by then. This is a win-win situation and a great example of why the Mac community is such a good one.

Nick proclaims
March 29th, 2009 at 11:46 pm

I remember CSSedit being in one of the heists, and now Espresso is in this year’s heist. I say to the Macro dude, if MacRabbit got screwed over when they put CSSedit in the heist, do you think they’d do it again with Espresso? I don’t think so.

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