Jul 19 2009

2009 SIAF banquet opening speech

Yours Truly exercises his speaking skills at the Shareware Industry Awards
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´╗┐Ladies and Gentlemen. It has now been 27 years since Jim Button and Andrew Fluegelman launched the shareware concept. Those of you who were around in the previous millennium — well, okay: 1999 — will recall that I held up a fully functional try-before-you-buy copy of Microsoft Office. I showed you fully ten years ago that Microsoft is a shareware company.

Shareware developers pioneered numerous vital technologies in the last 27 years. Shareware gave us the modem software and the bulletin board software that ultimately drove the popularity of the Internet itself. Microsoft long ago admitted they obtained a near-monopoly on desktop operating systems because shareware authors flocked to it … giving Windows enough utility for larger companies to choose it as a platform for their “pay-up-front-before-you-use-it” software.

Listen to Rob's speech at the Shareware Industry Awards banquetThe multi-billion dollar antivirus industry has always sold its products on a try-before-you-buy basis. And you can thank shareware developers for ALL of the file compression technologies that are now fully integrated into every major operating system available today.

I can go on, but you get the point. Shareware can rest on its many, many laurels. THAT is the reason we are still here after more than a quarter of a century.

But when you’re this good … when you’ve got this many laurels … you know it’s never good enough. When you’ve got 27 years of greatness behind you, you’re always going to ask yourself: “what next?”

What’s next is two big things, not just one.

The first is the holy grail of software — the operating system itself. We’ve long had pioneers in this area — our very own 1999 Hall of Fame member, Tom Rawson, was the driving force behind an amazing operating system snap-in known as 4DOS.

We’re well beyond snap-ins these days. Now, shareware operating system companies are popping up to compete against the goliath Siamese twins known as Microsoft and Windows. Fedora and Ubuntu are simply two of the more well-known names, but I assure you: they’re out there. In force. They’re shareware firms — they’re selling operating systems on a try-before-you-buy basis — and Microsoft is not happy about it.

Rob emcees the 2007 SIAF ceremonies

Rob emcees the 2007 SIAF ceremonies

The second thing on the horizon for shareware … is selling software as an online service. I assure you, we will succeed in this area.

Why? Know this: large companies spend big bucks to develop “software as a service” technologies that will let them control the user. Shareware, by its very nature, empowers the user. Shareware developers will focus on technologies that place the users in control.

And here, too, we’ve long had pioneers. In fact, if you look at our conference sponsors, you’ll see numerous pioneers in electronic commerce. “Software as a service” … is really just shareware e-commerce by another name. And I think those sponsors deserve a round of applause, too.

(Ah, no resting our your laurels, guys. There’s money to be made. Get to it!)

So … Operating systems … and software as a service. My friends, I assure you — in a few short years, shareware will have two more laurels to rest on. And at that point, we will ask ourselves yet again: “what’s next?”

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

Welcome to the 18th 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 2009. This event was conceived to honor the very best products written by Shareware developers.

If you look at the conference books you received when you checked in, you’ll find URL links to the many winners of past years. These are the pioneers whose laurels we rest on in the shareware world. Tonight we honor those who create new laurels, who pave new roads, and who set new standards of excellence in the computing age….