Jul 18 2008

2008 SIAF banquet opening speech

Yours Truly exercises his speaking skills at the Shareware Industry Awards
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Ladies and Gentlemen. As you may well know, it was 26 years ago when Jim Button and Andrew Fluegelman launched the shareware concept. The notion of “try before you buy” is so pervasive, that Microsoft itself has qualified as a shareware company for more than a decade.

And yet, after more than a quarter of a century, you’ll still find nay-sayers who doubt the concept of “try before you buy” software.

In a nutshell: these people don’t trust a time-tested idea. 26 years isn’t enough for the nay-sayers.

So I decided to go much deeper into history. Way deep.

I want to show you an actual magazine ad for a 1938 Packard automobile. This ad ran fully 70 years ago this year. I’m going to quote this ad in context:

“We ask you to accept for a few days, without obligation, a new 1938 Packard … to use as though it were already your own… [Call] the Packard dealer nearest you … and tell him when [you] would like to accept a 1938 Packard … for trial.”

Believe it, folks: the concept of “try before you buy” has been around for at least 70 years. It’s one of the single most successful sales tactics an auto dealer can use to this day.

“Try before you buy” is also pervasive in the magazine industry. Publishers will gladly send you four issues of their magazine on a trial basis.

Yours Truly emcees the 2008 Shareware Industry Awards banquet

Yours Truly emcees the 2008 Shareware Industry Awards banquet

“Try before you buy" is pervasive even in real estate. If you’ve accepted two free nights in a resort condo, or spent two free nights in an RV park, then you know what I mean. They want you to try their real estate before you buy it.

Now, the nay-sayers will insist “there’s a difference between software and an automobile, between software and real estate, between software and a magazine.”

That’s nay-sayer thinking. The key is that they are all property. In the way that a condo is real property — in the way that a magazine is personal property — in the same way, software is intellectual property. And “Try before you buy” works for all types of property.

So. What has shareware really done, then? Did we pioneer the “try before you buy” marketing concept? NO.

When it comes to shareware — when it comes to “try before you buy” concept — we pioneered it for intellectual property. We pioneered it for something intangible. We proved the nay-sayers wrong.

THAT, my friends, is the legacy of shareware. THAT is the reason we are still here after more than a quarter of a century.

It was entrepreneur Steve Lee who once said “someday, all software will be sold this way.” Ladies and gentlemen, you are here tonight because HE … WAS … RIGHT.

Welcome to the 17th Annual Shareware Industry Awards. I’m your Master of Ceremonies, Rob Rosenberger. Tonight, we honor the industry’s cream of the crop in the year 2008. This event was conceived to honor the very best products written by Shareware developers.

If you look at your printed program, you’ll see the many winners of past years. These are the pioneers who “paved the road to success” for shareware. Tonight we honor those who pave new roads and set new standards of excellence in the computing age….