When I started writing Mac apps back in 2010, I wanted to do this all the time, full-time. Of course I would need money to live, so selling software seemed the easiest thing. I owned a Mac since 2008, had back in the eighties made my first money ever with writing about software, what should be that difficult about selling software for a living?
Of course, and you’ll have read this more than often, is the reality a different thing. It is hard to make money with software. Especially when you have a full-time job not as a software engineer, but in a entirely unrelated field, and don’t want to quit that job, it is in the end a question of the amount of time one can (or rather can’t) spend on software development. Writing software is fascinating, and I love to do it in every free minute, during the night, during the weekends, on vacation, I still want to do it full-time some fine day. However, selling software is something different. Yes, one can make some money, and I sold some copies of my applications every few weeks, and I’m very grateful to everybody who bought them.
I’m not sure if I ever made enough money to pay the annual fee of Apple’s Mac Developer Program, and here in Europe making money as an entrepreneur leads to a rat-tail of bureaucratic issues that can be quite disturbing (not that being an entreupreneur isn’t already generally appalling to the typical European). So, as I had to realize that making a considerable amount of money with Mac software is out of reach if I don’t dare to act disruptively and jump into the cold waters of full-time software development, and I don’t have any prospects of changing this situation any time soon, and I don’t have to live from that money, why should I make my users still pay for my software at all? And, all the more, as from the beginning one of the reasons I write software was not to become rich, but to improve things, to introduce (modest) innovations, to provide new solutions to problems, wouldn’t free software mean that more people will use my software?
I have been poring about these questions for some time and have now decided that there isn’t any valid reason for me why I should still charge users. Accordingly, all my apps, which are available on the Mac App Store, have gone free today. Free software doesn’t mean second-class software, doesn’t mean that I’m not committed to improving my applications, fixing bugs, providing support (just the opposite, there’s so much paid software that is second-class software, with non-caring developers). Free software doesn’t mean that the software isn’t valued by its users or by its developer, that it isn’t taken seriously. Free software doesn’t mean the developer couldn’t charge users for his software. The difference is just that he doesn’t charge.
So from now on, I won’t ask you to buy my software. Instead, I will ask you to value it.