And we're back with our annual MacHeist controversy. John Gruber writes:

The controversy isn't over the deal, but over whether this sort of promotion is a good business strategy.

I don't think so. The people who participated did so knowing what they would get themselves into. They're free to screw up their businesses if they are so inclined. However, the indie developers who did not participate had no say in the whole thing, and I'm wondering how MacHeist affects them.

So I most of the criticism and positive feedback for MacHeist is kind of missing the mark. Rather than arguing about whether MacHeist is good for the participating developers, or whether it's good for MacHeist's customers, or whether it's a nice experience, or whether the participating developers are getting great marketing, I would be interested in knowing how it affects the Mac software market as a whole.

What influence does Espresso being in the bundle have on Coda? Does the fact that a hundred thousand people1 will effectively get a free copy of Espresso hurt Coda? Does it negatively impact the amount of money people are willing to pay for an app like Coda or Espresso or BBEdit or TextMate? Does MacHeist hurt Panic's business, or Bare Bones' business, or MacroMates' business?2

How does the fact that a hundred thousand people will have The Hit List impact the Mac market for task management software? How does WireTap Studio being in the bundle affect Rogue Amoeba's business? How does Acorn's sudden wide distribution affect Pixelmator and Iris and GraphicConverter?

I think the real question isn't whether participating devs get a good deal (that's for the participating developers to decide), or whether customers have a great experience (that's for each customer to decide). The real question is how it impacts the indie software market as a whole.

Does MacHeist hurt the amount of money people are willing to pay for great Mac software? Does it hurt the market for indie software?

I honestly have no clue whether it does, and because the Mac hardware market is growing and because these companies are private companies, it's probably impossible to get any hard numbers on this. But if it did negatively affect the market for great Mac software, it might be something to consider when deciding whether to buy into MacHeist. Because I want Panic to put money into updating Coda, and I want Bare Bones to be able to afford maintaining BBEdit for a long time to come.

  1. I'm guessing total sales based on current sales and remaining time. ↩︎

  2. Yes, I realize that some of these companies have participated in earlier MacHeists. I don't think it pertains to my argument. ↩︎

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