Pay to Upgrade?

I'm curious why people expect certain things for free.

For example, the new version of Mint is out. I've read of a few people who expected to receive the new version for free. EXPECTED. Why is that?

When I buy a car, I don't expect free upgrades for life. When I buy Microsoft Office, I don't expect free upgrades for life. When I buy any piece of software or hardware I simply don't expect to get free upgrades. Sure, it'd be nice to have and I'm always pleasantly surprised when it happens as I was when I got a free upgrade on Mint2 (because I purchased after January 1). But expect it?

Published January 29, 2007
Categorized as Opinion
Short URL: http://snook.ca/s/761

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Ara Pehlivanian said on January 29, 2007

And at $30 its not like it's expensive!

My opinion is that people--generally speaking--don't want to pay for anything. That's also why I believe the whole "information wants to be free" movement exists. Not for the noble reasons most claim, but really because they don't want to have to pay for their music.

Just my 2 cents.

Jonathan E said on January 29, 2007

While nice... upgrades for free is not standard practice, nor is it good business practice!

To those that expected the Mint upgrade for free, they should've read the FAQs when they purchased Mint v1 because they clearly stated that major upgrades (such as new versions) would be available for a discounted fee... not for free. 19 dollars is pocket change compared to what you can pay for other apps or services.

Gilbert West said on January 29, 2007

We live in a Cut & Paste society hwre people seem to expect content, services and applications for free. A good halfway house seems to be the business model where apps are supplied for free in a limited form with added value services charged for on top.

Adam Thody said on January 29, 2007

Funny that this has come up - when I saw that there was a fee to upgrade this morning I'll admit I was a little put off at first. Then I thought about it, and of course I came to the conclusion that it was completely reasonable.

I tried to figure out why I first thought it should be free. Two reasons come to mind. Firstly, in the Mac world, it's not uncommon for small developers to offer free upgrades. I can think of several apps I use regularly, which update automatically, and at no cost (including major version upgrades). So, not to say that it should be expected, but it's certainly not uncommon. Secondly, we've all come to expect many minor revisions in software. It seems like once a day something on my machine is updating. With Mint, the only changes I recall from the initial version were either small css tweaks, or under-the-hood stuff, that doesn't translate to an end user. So my point is this feels like the first update since it's the first with any noticeable end-user changes (that I can recall).

Anywho, it's an interesting psychological experiment. We all know if we're getting more we should have to pay more, but I think Mac users specifically have been spoiled by all the small developers out there giving stuff away for free that we've kinda lost appreciation for the amount of work that goes into these apps.

Kilian Valkhof said on January 29, 2007

Rant-for-the-day? You're absolutely right, but people are just programmed wanting to hold on to their money. You can hold it against them but it won't help.

Stewart Curry said on January 29, 2007

I'm amazed that some people expected it for free... I have the first version of mint and will probably upgrade when I get the chance, and will have no problem paying the extra few dollars.

Adam Thody said on January 29, 2007

All that being said, I won't be upgrading. While I think it's totally reasonable to charge for major version upgrades, I'm not sure that I agree that what looks like about 10% more features should cost 2/3rds of the original purchase price...especially when the functionality of most of those features was already available in free peppers.

Chris Meller said on January 29, 2007

I agree with Adam Thody. It seems Mint hasn't had any real changes since their initial release, so this should be considered an incremental upgrade.

Also, at $30, Mint is one of the more expensive "small" apps I use. When you consider $30 for each individual site, we're talking some major cash dumped into a statistics package.

Finally, when you consider the rather relatively abundant availability of alternatives on the market, it just seems like Mint could offer more for that rather hefty sum.

So yes, for $30/site, I expect some quantifiable updates for my money. Now, if it were $30 for as many sites as I wanted (or perhaps for the first 10 sites, etc.), the whole equation would be different. It all comes down to the value for your money equation. Free updates makes a significant difference in that equation, and helps me feel like I'm not getting ripped off...

FWIW, I won't be upgrading. I bought 2 additional licenses back in August, and spending $49/site x 2 in a 6 month span for this? I think not...

Ryan Brooks said on January 29, 2007

For all our living in a just add water society, I humbly think the people who expect to receive an upgrade for free should be dragged out and shot.

But that's just me.

Long live mint!

Kalle said on January 29, 2007

RIGHT ON THE SPOT!
I had a very long conversation with a friend of mine earlier today. He had a Mint license and got a little off when he realized that Mint 2 wasn't going to be free.

As you, I'm also amazed that people expect to have the new version for free. As far as I noticed, there must have been alot of work behind it.

John said on January 29, 2007

It's always the point: Is it worth it.

If the software I'm using works for me and the upgrade offers new functions I may need, I should pay the price.

Otherwise you can search for alternatives or simply do not urgrade. It's that easy.

Andy Kant said on January 29, 2007

I blame the open-source initiative. Damn them and their anti-profit propaganda.

Anyways, Mint's a great product that I've been using since it came out. I will probably upgrade at some point...although, if there wasn't a discount for previous users, I'd maybe be a little mad. Never hurts to reward your previous customers for repeated business. ;-)

Nathan Smith said on January 29, 2007

I think a lot of people are just really selfish, and don't care about the producers of software. Rather than look at it from the standpoint of Mint being a great product, with a designer/programmer behind it who wants to keep food on the table, they just whine because the world is not centered around them.

I admit that when I saw that version 2 was out, I was hoping it'd be a free upgrade, but I wasn't angered to find out otherwise. In fact, I think it's very generous that Shaun made it available at a discount to those who already have v1. He even retro-actively gave v2 free to those who had bought v1 during 2007.

It's not like Mint holds a the monopoly on checking site statistics, nor is Shaun forcing you to upgrade. Version 1 of Mint still works just fine. Bottom line is, if you don't want to pay, then go use another solution like Google Analytics. Either way, those people should pipe down.

Mark said on January 29, 2007

I have to admit, as I encountered news of the upgrade this morning my excitement grew to chagrin when I visited the revised site and saw the upgrade fee. Not because I think Shaun's work should be free, but because I *just* bought a new license last night for the third of three inter-linked domains.

KUDOS to Shaun for free upgrades for post-1/1/2007 purchases. That covers 2 of my three licenses.

Carson said on January 29, 2007

Well, I think it's just cognitive confusion. Mint is really shrinkwrap software. Buy once - enjoy indefinitely. We're all accustomed to web apps having a monthly fee - or being free - which includes "free" upgrades. That paradigm is probably accidentally carrying over. How the confusion persists long enough for someone to carp about it is beyond me.

Silvan Hagen said on January 29, 2007

I already wanted to buy the update for two domains purchased in 2007 and I was surprised and happy that I wasn't asked to spend money on them, but sure I'm going to upgrade the one I bought back in 06.

Jon said on January 29, 2007

It's too bad that a lot of the buzz about the new release surrounds this topic as opposed to people talking about how slick the new version looks, and the new features it boasts.

Shaun put together a great stats application that I check multiple times a day. Sure there are other solutions, but Mint is a great product at a very affordable price, and I'll support it. I'll stand next to Nathan in saying that no one is forcing you to upgrade, Mint 1 is just as good as it was last week, so if you choose not to upgrade, be confident in your decision and enjoy your stats application.

Arjan Eising said on January 29, 2007

Short comment but I just want to say you're absolutely right Jonathan!

Johan said on January 29, 2007

Upgrade your mint
New stuff oh so fresh
Spend some cash
for the next big stint

I rest my case. (and my phraise)

Emil said on January 29, 2007

It's very interesting that so many people actually have paid money for this kind of application. I mean there are a lot of free alternatives out there (awstats, google analytisc etc).

But I admin that mint is a great product but I do feel a little bit mad, I bought my mint licens in the end of december ;P

Kyle Korleski said on January 29, 2007

How about the best of both worlds? If you purchased Mint within the previous year, you could get free updates.

*sigh* I should have waited to purchase Mint in January.

Jens Meiert said on January 29, 2007

It's less understandable that there's no discount when you order Mint for several sites. Personally, I won't buy Mint for other domains anymore, and I also question the missing feedback from Shaun concerning this issue.

J Phill said on January 29, 2007

I don't think it's absurd to pay a price for the upgrade if you think it would be useful. I, personally, will not be paying for this upgrade because I don't need it. I only use a couple of peppers and don't need much more.

I also use a couple free alternatives that give me what MInt doesn't. But I don't think Shaun is insane for charging for this upgrade. I'm sure he spent quite a bit of time working on this, $20 is not much to ask.

Amrit Hallan said on January 30, 2007

This strange mentality prevails on the Internet that if you ask people for money for some service, they feel a bit offended. But I think this could be because most people are just killing time. I often come across people who are eager to pay for quality service.

Martin Ringlein said on January 30, 2007

When did buying a car ever translate to doing business on the web or web products and services in general? Are we all used-car salesman now?

Almost everything on the internet is free -- that is why we expect free upgrades. Especially from services such as Mint. I wouldn't expect to get up-charged when Basecamp upgrades or Flickr upgrades. The expectations are set from industry itself.

I am not saying that Shaun isn't justified in charging ... but you can't question why people are shocked to be charged.

The expectation has been set and I can understand why some feel that being charged in an upgrade is not exceeding expectations but rather disappointing with with unexpectations.

Jonathan Snook said on January 30, 2007

When did buying something translate to buying something? I'm generalizing as a way to make a point.

The majority of software that one can download — as is the case with Mint and quite unlike Flickr and Basecamp and Google Analytics — costs money. Round up all the freeware, shareware, and commercial software on the web and you'll find you have to pay for the majority of it. Likewise, full point revisions are almost never free.

So, the expectation has been set and yes, I can question why people would be shocked.

Eric Harrison said on January 30, 2007

Disclaimer: I don't use Mint nor do I have any affiliation with them. These are my thoughts alone.

Personally, the reason I 'expect' upgrades for free is because I am sick and tired of paying for some software that I enjoy using only to find out that a few months later a new version will come out that I want to use. Any time in which the difference between whether I get more features in a product I'm paying for or not can be boiled down to the date that I paid my money, I get upset. If I pay $X on (new Date()) and then find out that more features are available shortly after that and that the developer now wants me to pay for the product again, it's a slap in my face.

This is the exact same reason that I haven't bought a Madden NFL game since Madden 98. I don't want to keep shelling out 50$ each year just to get some updated rosters. The very worst I will tolerate is a cheaper upgrade cycle. The example being that I pay full price the first time and am only required to pay subsequent upgrade fees (at least less than half the full price) for each upgrade.

The other situation that I hate about 'paying for upgrades' is in situations where I pay for a 1.0 version of a product that may have any number of bugs that the developer promises will be fixed in the next version. When that version comes out, do not expect me to pay you to fix the bugs your product had in the first release. I paid for your product in good faith that it was fully functional and in my opinion, expecting me to pay for 'fixes' in an upgraded version of that product is on the same level as extortion. Again, that is completely unacceptable and I will not tolerate it from any developer that I am willingly purchasing software from.

-erh

Robert said on January 30, 2007

I too was hoping that Mint 2 would be a free upgrade and was bummed that it wasn't.

I wouldn't "expect" it to be free, but do wish it was - who doesn't, it is a cool piece of software.

That being said, for me personally, I don't see enough feature additions to justify buying the new upgrade. Some may need those extra features, but for me I don't.

Shaun has the right to charge whatever he wants for Mint, $30, $20, $1000. It is his software. Just as I have the right not to buy it for my own reasons. Neither side should expect the other to do as they wish.

CristianDeluxe said on January 30, 2007

Sorry for my Bad English:

I think that all software updates must be free because, when you buy a car for sample it no have bugs like brakes don't work or somthing like this.

allgood2 said on January 30, 2007

I have to admit, soon as I saw the new pages, my first thought was is it a free upgrade or a paid upgrade. I didn't EXPECT free, but it would have been a great surprise.

I'm fine with the upgrade options, and the new features seem worth the upgrades. Unlike, others, I felt like all the upgrades between v1 to 1.5 or whatever the last update was, may not have been significant, but they were plenty noticeable to me. So they qualify as free updates.

The only statement, I agree with is that Mint should be allowed to support more than one domain. I'm more of a fan of the per install fee. If I'm running 5 domains off of a single web account, then I feel that Mint, and my other web services should support all five of those domains.

But I also feel STRONGLY that if I want Mint for a client, a different account, etc., that it should be PAID for.

Julian Schrader said on January 30, 2007

@ChristianDeluxe: Since full point upgrades normally aren't just a couple of bugfixes, I don't think your example's case is comparable to the upgrade of Mint to v2.

In my opinion "bugfix"-upgrades should be free to registered users, but it is very generous that Shaun discounts the price for v1 owners.

Kory Twaites said on January 30, 2007

Pay or Free, People will still buy it if they want it. I was caught off guard at first as you know, but I dished out the cash because in the long run I know it's worth it.

Amit Patel said on January 30, 2007

I think it depends a lot on the type of software. There are two cost/benefit analyses you need to do:

  • From the customer's perspective, they've paid for the first version, and received some value for that version over some period of time. That's a sunk cost, so it's really irrelevant in the decisionmaking process (from a rational perspective, not an emotional perspective). The upgrade costs $X, and they'll receive an estimated $Y2 in value for that version over some period of time. Not upgrading costs $0 and they'll receive an estimated $Y1 in value. To rationally justify the upgrade, customer has to have:
    1. $Y2 > $Y1 (the new version is more valuable)
    2. $Y2 - $Y1 > $X (the difference in value is worth the difference in cost)

    But to emotionally justify the upgrade is much harder to quantify. I think something to look at is that the cost increased by some %, and the value increased by some %. Is the increase in cost higher than the increase in value? For most upgrades, it is, and it feels like you're getting less for your money from the upgrade. (I don't actually know what the Mint upgrade costs; I'm talking about other software I've bought.)

  • From the developer's perspective, charging for an upgrade means you're going to have to support multiple versions. You can't just say "download the new version; the bug is fixed there". Compare the estimated increased support/maintenance cost to the estimated revenue from the upgrade to decide whether to charge for an upgrade.

The frequency of major updates affects both the customer's decision and the developer's decision. When I sold software, I released lots of versions, so customers were less likely to pay for upgrades. That meant I would've had to support lots more versions, and I really didn't want to do that, so I made the updates free.

Paying once and getting all future versions for free is a nice deal, and I think it greatly increased my sales. But it meant I had less incentive to work on new versions, because I wasn't making more money from them. And eventually I stopped writing new features, even the ones people really wanted. I think in the long term, successful software has to charge for upgrades. A lot of the software you see these days isn't going to be around (supported/updated) in the long term, and that's fine, but it's something to keep in mind when evaluating pricing.

jinny said on January 31, 2007

Most major software companies charge less for an upgrade for existing customers, that wasn't a "favor." But the other difference is, major software players let you know ahead of time that an upgrade is coming out. So you don't have angry customers who bought in December...

That seems more honest anyway.

Cory said on February 01, 2007

I gotta admit, I was a little bummed when I saw that it was a paid update. I totally understand the thought behind doing things that way, and I am cool with it. Shaun is certainly not in the wrong.

I do however think that the paid update could be more along the lines of $10.00 for people that have already purchased a license before. Not that $19.00 is totally bad, especially compared to the costs of other types of software upgrades. I think that the feature upgrades should equal the price paid. All I see on the surface so far is a CSS styling change.

Everything that I use Mint for, can be obtained with Pepper, which were all free to begin with. I would have really like to have seen a little more standard features added to the core.

Jem said on February 02, 2007

I can upgrade phpBB for free. I can upgrade WordPress for free. In fact, I can even upgrade my chosen Linux distribution for free -- all three of which are much 'bigger' than Mint and, more to the point, are free in the first place. That's a whole lot of free that I'm used to, and actively enjoy.

If it makes me selfish, lacking intelligence, greedy or any of the other things that have been stated against us 'complainers' (because obviously it's impossible to have an opinion without insulting the opposition at the same time) then so be it. It's my money, and I'll complain about having to spend it if I want to.

Smith said on February 02, 2007

I think $19 for the upgrade is totally ridiculous. I didn't expect it to be free, but I didn't expect it to be so much either. And then that's $20 per domain to upgrade.

I think that's way too much.

Jack said on February 02, 2007

I don't think that paying for upgrades is on. Yes, it costs the developer to make the software. We all know that. BUT...what about customer loyalty? I don't use Mint, but what are we talking, $11 off a $30 piece of software? A third? Not a lot.

I believe this developer needs to remember that without customers, he has no income from this software at all. And not warning your customers that a major upgrade they will be expected to pay for is coming...not really on.

I agree that Google Analytics cannot be downloaded, BUT...is loading up a browser, typing the URL in and entering your username and password that inconvienient? Plus, you don't have to pay. I use Analytics, and it gives me far more than I will ever need. Oh. And it is free. As is my design software, and hosting.

To quote a film - "Why pay for something that would be dirt cheap if it wasn't for profiteering gluttons?"

My two cents.

Ben said on February 02, 2007

I agree completely with Jem.

John Hancock said on February 02, 2007

Nathan - it's January 29th 2007 as you post. Nice for those who purchased Mint in the last few weeks, but it's not the majority of his userbase.

While Shaun has written a lovely piece of stats software, his financial marketing and planning decisions make me wonder.

1) No per-server, bulk or multiple-license discounts.
2) No IIS support.

Now Shaun uses Apache, which is fine, but his lack fo support for one of the largest commercially used HTTP servers is lazy as it would require only minimal changes which wouldn't affect Apache users. So that's #2. #1 is the reason we don't use his stats software across hundreds of sites.

Mint is pretty, but Mint 2 doesn't contain any must-have features, does it? It looks more slick, but most clients were impressed with how Mint 1 looks. Compared to say.....awstats....Mint didn't need a new interface.

Jack - I agree with the lack of communication thing. Microsoft (who charge for upgrades) will let people know well in advance that they're releasing a new version of the software. And to the people who count, they'll give some idea of upgrade costs. They also support old versions properly!

If the upgrade was revolutionary rather than evolutionary a 66% upgrade fee might seem good VFM. But peppers count against him.

Michael said on February 03, 2007

I was disappointed that there was a $19 charge for a Mint upgrade, and I still am. When it comes to major upgraded features I can't really see anything that I would spend another $19 for.
I know $19 isn't that much but I hardly have $3 to do my laundry. College is killing me right now and any spare money I have goes to paying my college bill.
I'll probably upgrade when I have the dough but until then I am satisfied with Mint 1. I just hope that Shaun keeps up support for those of us 1.x'ers!
The software absolutely rocks though, and I really love how easy it is to use.

FuzzMop said on February 03, 2007

I'm not at all surprised that there is a charge for the upgrade. It doesn't even phase me. If I had payed $185 (like you do for IPB), I'd expect it to be free for at least the first 5 major releases. Then some smaller fee.

I personally think Mint is just adding a new version number to get new people to try it because Mint does look nicer now. It's a pretty good way of marketing, I think. New licenses still cost $30. If someone has been looking at Mint for a while now and they saw that it upgraded and has a new feature or new styling or something, than they'd be even more urged to buy it.

And hey! Who said we have to buy it OR upgrade it?

No one. No one is forcing us to do anything. If you want to use your time figuring out another type of application for statistics... You do it!

People can be disappointed about having to pay for an upgrade, but... no one is telling them to upgrade and no one, but themselves has to upgrade.

I haven't ever used Mint, but I might eventually when I build a website worth someone's time, O_o

Ash Haque said on February 04, 2007

Well I bought a copy of mint last November, have been pretty happy with it since. Now 2 months later another upgrade comes out, for 20$. It would've been nice if there was an announcement earlier that said something was under development, and will be coming out early next year, heck, even Microsoft does that...

Now with all the other free alternatives out there, is it this stats package really worth upgrading to? What if you had 10+ licenses for the old mint, is the 200$ upgrade really worth it?

Dave said on February 05, 2007

As i 'm fan For Shaun's work, i think the paid upgrade is a good compromise for software improvements if you fon't already own a v1.29.

Bugs issues are of course free of charge, he's only but them to show the logs of the differencies between v1.29 and v2.0.

For my personal taste, i got v1.29 and fully happy with it. Since v2.0 aren't a big improvement (ie: features,etc) i do want to buy it. Redesign aren't a improvement since the stats are already well organize and displayed.

Maybe Shaun did a too good v1 for justifying a v2 with improvements... ahahah.

Corinne said on February 06, 2007

Do I want to pay an extra $19 for a new design? No.

Do I want to pay $30 for something that I can get for free with almost the same quality elsewhere? No.

Do I want to support a capitalist tenet that says if you've got the money then you must pay, despite the fact that it may not be anywhere near the cost? No.

Personally, I think it's a waste and very exclusive because there are many who do not live in big countries like the "good old US of A" that have successful sites yet cannot afford to shell out $30 (which would be much more for them), but they cannot "benefit."

Moreover, to generalize by saying that people who complain about paying for something like Mint, as if it is the end all and the be all, is ridiculous.

If it's worth it, and I'm sorry Mint is not, then I would gladly pay. However, I'm not wasting my money on a person who claims that there is a "one time fee" and then charges you extra to upgrade to a new design implying that there is something extra special about it when there clearly is not.

And this comes from an American who embraces the capitalist society that she lives in.

kristin said on February 12, 2007

I wasn't a fan of paying to upgrade either.
I didn't expect it to be free, but I thought it was a bit pricey when the $$ amount was finally put up. I debated on upgrading for week or so before I did.

I understand that Shaun needs to eat to survive just like I do and I don't mind being supportive of fellow developers & artists.

Just thought I would add in here... I had an issue with a pepper not working, and he was very quick to deal with the problem and get it resolved. I think that the money paid goes towards things like that also.. unforeseeable things you might not get right now, but will get later.

Keep in mind that from the beginning of mint there has been NUMEROUS upgrades to mint and peppers. This one just happened to cost a little. Hes put a lot of time and effort into the project and deserves to be compensated a little for his time spent.

Tony Lee said on November 10, 2007

Are these stats for Mint correct? $30 x 8,000 users = $240,000

I think Shaun should either charge less for the upgrade, or include more features in the upgrade. If not then it's more about the money than it is about the users.

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