As you may have seen, MacHeist has announced a bundle of applications for sale this week. For just $49 (less if you participated in MacHeist), you get a very impressive collection of great Mac applications. In doing so, they declared this “The Week of the Independent Mac Developer” (dedicated to promoting such “hidden gems” as Delicious Libary [sic]1). It’s a great deal for users, but is it good for the aforementioned Independent Mac Developer?
Unfortunately, without knowing the true math behind MacHeist2 it’s impossible to say. My understanding is that the developers taking part in the bundle are getting a flat rate for participating. That means that the more bundles MacHeist sells, the more money MacHeist makes, while the developers will get no additional money. Each new user adds support costs, so the more bundles they sell, the worse off each developer may be.
It’s been argued that this can be good for developers by providing more exposure. Personally, I just can’t see that, but maybe it’s true. Declaring this “The Week of the Independent Mac Developer”, however, has left a sour taste in my mouth. The people who stand to benefit directly here aren’t the developers, but the people behind MacHeist. Urging people to buy this bundle to support the developer is disingenuous at best.
I’m not the only independent Mac developer who spotted the doublespeak, but I wanted to add my voice. I really think it’s important to step up and challenge the basic idea, seen in many recent promotions, that giving away software (or getting so little that you’re essentially giving it away) is beneficial to the developer. I’ve heard nothing more than anecdotal evidence to support the idea. That alone won’t convince me that the risk of increased support cost and lost sales are worth it. I think it’s important to challenge the assumption that’s being made here, specifically that any publicity is inherently positive.