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Software Application Pills

A friend of mine once pointed out that when you are creating software, a very good way to look at it is "how dependent will your users be on your software?".  Then in his usual clever way, he related it to pills.  Well, not pills so much but, pill like items.   In this regards how do you want to package the software for easy consumption?  How often do you want people to use it?  How hard do you want it to be for your clients to walk away?

It turns out that his metaphor splits nicely into 4 categories; candy, vitamins, medicine and heart meds.


At the candy level you are talking about fun software.  You are looking to have a huge base of people that might try this out on an impulse.  It's right there at the check out stand.  You don’t really need it, you could walk away.  But, somehow candy keeps on selling.  It's a treat, it's fun, it's colorful, playful, and something new.  There are lots of apps like this.  The whole game industry is built around candy apps.  In no way, shape, or form do I need to be playing; minecraft, angry birds, or any of these other huge distractions.  But, it is great amusement and enjoyable.  Thus... candy.

Do notice that the price point and volume have to reflect this.  I don’t buy designer candy.  I’m not even sure if that exist.  Candy is cheap, but it makes up for that in volume.   Also think about the life cycle of your relationship with candy.  It's short, maybe you come back for that brand of candy but, it isn’t something you half to have.


Next come the vitamins.  These are like nuggets of hope and prevention all wrapped into one easy to consume package.  At the root, why do you take vitamins?  It's a type of insurance right?  It keeps you from getting sick, or helps you get stronger.  These are your anti-virus software, your backup software.  They are a little investment of time now for a lot less problems later.

Now also think about the volume of these sales.  People take vitamins regularly.  Well... sort of. They don’t have to take them so sometimes you skip, or you come back to it later.  But, the point is to do something regularly.  It is more expensive than candy but, you don’t eat a bunch of vitamins like you would candy.  The same goes for software.  You only need a couple of these apps.  You probably don’t try out anti-virus software packages like you would games.  You pick one and stick with it.  Same sort of mentality.


You are even more dependent on medicines than vitamins.  You might choose to not take a vitamin but you feel foolish not taking your medicine.  There is software like this as well.  Its core to your business.  Software that keeps things moving.  You could get rid of it but, it would be a bad idea and you would need to find an equivalent.  This is software you don’t want to ignore.

Heart Meds

Finally there are heart meds.  These are a type of medicine you have to take every day or you might die.  That makes them very important to you.  These are expensive, you plan around them, you budget for them, you make sure that at all cost this is available.  Some software is like this as well.  In many industries there is that one vendor or programmer that the entire venture hinges on.  This is what is most important to you.  This isn’t the same as an off the shelf equivalent, but more like a custom software package that is integrated into the company.  The point is dependency.  With a heart med type software your users must have it.  Usually these are older pieces of software that are well wedged into the system. Think about salesforce applications or business process applications.


So when you are thinking about creating software, it might help to think about how dependent you want your users to be.  Do you want the high volume transient sales of candy, or the low volume pricey heart meds.  You need to price and plan for this accordingly.  People don’t buy super expensive candy.  So why would you make a game to sell for $100?

Also consider that with this comes the development cost and the cost to get these introduced to new customers.  For instance, I bet it is much easier to make and sell candy than it is to sell designer drugs.  It's just a hunch.