Thursday, September 11, 2008

PC Trial Software: "To Free or Not To Free?"

Best Buy's decision to provide a service to remove "free-trial" software from computers must have been a wake-up call to PC manufacturers. On the one hand, I applaud the move as a consumer. It bugs the hell out of me everytime my computer at home tells me that I'm unprotected and I must purchase McAfee software or else.

On the other hand, as a software publisher, I dream of seeing our software preloaded on PC desktops. All of them. Every single one. All over the world. I understand why the manufacturers need to do it -- with notebooks costing $500 these days and desktops half that . One Toshiba product manager confided to me, "Software is how we make our money." I like the approach of Grant Shenk, Worldwide Software Marketing Manager for Lenovo who told me he wants to provide software that is not annoying, that is not a trial, and that provides real value to Lenovo customers to enhance their experience owning a Lenovo computer. That makes sense to me. Another approach that makes sense is to provide consumers an opportunity to try various software programs by visiting the website of the PC maker who supplied it. In this scenario, the customer is making the decision to browse for software to become more productive -- or simply to have fun -- while the manufacturers and software publishers share the revenues from sales. That's a win-win for everyone.

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