I wanted to get people's opinions about online software distribution via download. As opposed to the more traditional methods where you get a cd or dvd in a box. Synthetik has used the later option in the past for software distribution. But we're currently exploring other potential options for the upcoming 4.0 release.
As you know, we currently ship a box containing multiple cds via fed-ex. With the escalating cost of oil fed-ex shipping charges have also skyrocketed, the shipping charges we add to existing orders do not reflect our actual costs at this point. Packaging software in boxes or plastic and then shipping that is also not the most ecological approach, there is a lot of waste and carbon footprint associated with it. My take on most boxed software packages these days is that you open the large cardboard box with printed sleeve and it's empty except for a disk and a very small amount of printing (maybe), so while it's designed to make people feel like they are getting something large and physical when they purchase in actuality it essentially an empty box with a cd or dvd.
One advantage of downloadable distribution is that it's much more immediate, you don't have to wait for a physical package to arrive to get started using the program.
So i was curious how people would feel about a downloadable option for studio artist distribution in the future. Possibly with an additional option for a backup dvd that would be mailed for those that want some kind of a physical disc. Does this appeal to you? Do you have issues with it?
I have downloaded other software and have never had much of a problem. It is also good to be able to order a hard copy if you want it at a small extra cost. The last time I ordered SA the shipping to Canada cost me about $45.00 although I received it in two days. So the download option would be attractive to me. There should also be a way of getting the training videos. If it wasn't for them I'd still be scratching my head with a confused look on my face.
The training videos would be included as a part of the download for this kind of downloadable online distribution i'm talking about. So the download could potentially be fairly large when you take the training videos into account.
Even though we charge $45 for the non USA fed ex shipping, it is typically costing us much more these days, so even though the shipping cost seems high to the customer we actually lose money on it). I expect that trend to get worse over time as the price of oil rises. The reason why we currently use fed ex was that we found that it was much more reliable, especially in foreign countries where the shipments need to go through customs (other shipping options often languished in customs for long periods of time). And we were able to reliably track shipments to insure the customer actually received the shipment, or to know where it was if they hadn't received it yet.
I do both. For "good" software I like the security blanket of having the DVD, but my latest update version of SA is the downloaded, so go figure.
One question I have for you, and I find this a common non-option with US suppliers of lots of things, not just software, Why not offer USPS as a shipping method. To Canada this can cut down the shipping considerably, and companies that do offer USPS I will select that method. So far, touch wood, I have had no issues with shipping via USPS and I usually get delivery relatively quickly.
I suppose you could offer a few variations rapid courier, courier ground, USPS or download, then you might be able to satisfy most of us.
I am with David, if it weren't for the videos I would really be lost, instead of partly lost. These I can see taking a long time in downloading and I would opt for a DVD for them.
This is really encouraging though, looks like SA4 is around the corner, goodie, goodie. Photoshop really performs now it is Intel ready, Can't wait to see the speed of SA4 under Intel ready.
And here's a thought, why not put out the training videos as podcasts thru iTunes. You would get lots of exposure and I could subscribe to them and receive the latest tip as you develop them. You wouldn't have to distribute the training videos with the software and thus allow for a shorter download time.
When we set up our current shipping solution, USPS didn't provide real tracking information, and unlike fed ex they don't expedite the time it takes a package to get through customs in foreign countries. That said, i would not be surprised if we moved to a lower cost shipping solution for backup discs in the 'download with optional backup dvd' scenario i discussed above if we do go that route.
I find the download option really good. With all the sofware I purchase I take the download option. At least for the platform I would not stray from: Mac.
The only items we purchase as DVD's are the Adobe Suite... Good to have the DVD's along with a web download - because those downloads are really gigantic... and the downloaded installers often become problematic.
For the PC - the complexity is increased - but I have not had much trouble there either with downloads.
I would love the download option.
However. At home I am 56k modem based. I would not be able to download anything over 50 meg at home without waiting days and potentially having files dropped in progress.
Having a DVD/mail based option should stay - with that limitation in mind.
Breaking a download into managable chunks might help as well. A main application download. A help/tutorial files option. An "additional" Presets option... An all in one option for a fast connection and a set of smaller downloads for limited connection would be great.
Offer download or mailing options on all components. USPS shipping for US customers (tracking is reliable now, based on personal experience) and Fed-EX for foreign orders. Let customer choose.
If I recall correctly, several years ago you zipped a file to me in Europe and I had no problem with it even though am on 56k modem. I would like to be able to use SA both here and at my home in Europe and hope there will be no issues on installing on 2 different computers.
I might want the physical disks as well. I live in an area where storms of all kinds are a threat and I have the SA disks, my Painter X and Mac installation disks in my laptop backpack, ready to go.
I've downloaded most everything else. Now with Graphic Converter, my software developed a problem and, since it was registered, I just re-downloaded it at no cost and the problem was solved. Would this be an option if you went the downloaded route? I could live with that.
Don't know if the size of the download would be an issue or not.
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