CNET and Installers: A Win-Win-Win-Win Scenario

money grown on treesA while back (CNET) did some pretty shady stuff with installers. People screamed bloody murder, and CNET listened. They’re now in beta with the new version of their downloader/installer, and this is a very good thing. They’ve changed all the bad stuff (from what I can tell), and are now offering what looks like an excellent platform. (I’ve not done any indepth analysis of it, but on the surface, it looks good.)

But, as you can imagine, there are people that are still not happy with it. CNET is offering developers an opportunity to get paid for their work, and at the same time, they’re doing this in an open and voluntary way. This still seems unacceptable to some people who can’t get past the fact that the downloaders from CNET add in an advertising layer where they are shown an ad with an offer while their chosen software is downloading. They’ll surf web pages with trillions of ads and lots of tracking technology in them, but for some reason, if legitimate software comes with an ad, it’s evil. And allowing developers that opportunity to get paid for their work is somehow unacceptable.

Well… Let me quickly explain a bit about some important concerns that some people face…

The thing is that at the end of the day, people that develop software are people. People need to eat. Eating involves food. In order to get food, you need to have money to pay for it. In order to have money to pay for food to eat, you need to get some of that money stuff, which is normally called “getting paid”. In order to “get paid”, you need to work. If you’re one of those people that develops software, normally called a “developer”, you need “work” at “development” and get paid for that “development”.

I tried asking at the supermarket if they’d give me some food for free, but they said, “NO!” I was rather disappointed. After all, it seems like people expect me to work for free, so why shouldn’t I get other stuff for free?

Well, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again, right?

So I went to fill up my car at the gas station. At the counter, I asked if I could get the gas for free. Again, the fellow said, “NO!”

By this point I was starting to get disillusioned and depressed. But, not one to be detered, I forged bravely on!

Development can be very expensive as you need all kinds of tools. So I thought maybe I can get some tools for free! (You see, I’m always thinking in new and creative ways!)

So, yet again, I forged bravely on to the local computer store.

I grabbed a hard drive off the shelf and went up to the cash register. Again I asked if I could have it for free. Y’know what? She said, “NO!”

Well, maybe it’s time I short of shift focus for a bit. Instead, I decided to see if I could get something related with Intellectual Property for free. After all, what I do is basically that, so maybe that’s got something to do with it.

So I went to a store, picked up a DVD and went up to the checkout. Sigh… You know what’s coming… “NO!”

At that point it clicked! I need to go online!

Well, I emailed the iTunes store to see if I could get some movies for free. Sigh… They didn’t even respond… I took that for a “NO!”

Then I found and finally got a movie for free!

You can imagine how profoundly disappointed I was when I realised just how hungry I was and that I couldn’t eat the movie that I’d downloaded. Man… Was my wife going to be pissed with me! No food on the table even after I’d managed to get something for free… 😛

Then, as if a light shone down from Heaven, I heard someone say, “Yo! Dude! I can help you put food on the table. Work with me and I’ll pay you.”

WOW! Finally! There was hope! The next week would look promising as I dreamed of my wife not beating me into unconsciousness! 😀 RAPTURE! JOY~! 😀

Ok… Silly stories aside… I think it’s great that there are alternative ways for developers to get paid for their work. And, at the end of the day, these methods cost end users nothing except a few seconds of their time and perhaps a click to close a window. This looks like a win-win-win-win scenario to me.

Developers win because they get paid.

Users win because they get good software.

CNET wins because they have a business model that is profitable and that helps people.

CNET advertisers win because they get access to end users and can present them with an offer.

Nobody is losing in this scenario. Everyone is winning.

So why must some people find offense in this? CNET has a way to encourage software development. This can only be good for end users. They have nothing to lose.

I think that it’s disingenuous, arrogant, self-centered, selfish, and disrespectful for users to expect developers to work for free. Nobody else seems to think it’s ok for them to be expected to work for free. (Musicians/artists face much the same problem as software developers.) Ethical methods that allow developers to get paid can only be a good thing. Begrudging these opportunities to developers is simply mean spirited and selfish.

I also think it’s great to have free software out there. Free as in freeware and free as in freedom. Both are good.

I also appreciate commercial software that I have to pay for. I shudder to think how much I’ve spent on software, but am very glad that I have as it has helped me immensely.

The CNET solution now seems to have entered back into the realm of sanity. They are now approaching the topic with respect, much in the same way that OpenCandy operates. This is the way to go. Treat people well.




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2 thoughts on “CNET and Installers: A Win-Win-Win-Win Scenario

  1. barney


    You’ve got some good points. But you’ve overlooked a few that are relevant to us, the users of the software involved. On a personal level, I don’t mind paying for software that performs as advertised, and I don’t expect all things Internet to be free.

    But …

    I’ll mention just one (1) point, lest I create a manuscript rather than a missive .

    I track every bit of software that I install. I do this for a variety of reasons, but a major one is the ability to completely remove software when I uninstall it.
    But everything I install via C|Net shows Cnet Installer as the source. So that application costs me a great deal of time in order to discover which of a dozen or so installs is the one I need to examine in order to determine that software removal is complete.

    Now, my time is as valuable to me as yours is to you. That installer adds hours to my day. That means I cannot get as much done in that day. So, in effect, that installer costs me money. Also, although this may not be true of the newer version, that installer tries to install things I do not wish to have, things that are sometimes incompatible with my system – and some of those installs seem to be surreptitious. In effect, C|Net is trying to run my system without my permission.

    As mentioned, there are other points, but this one is relevant to your post, i.e., money related. In essence, should I buy your software, I’m also paying a price for the privilege of installing it. Further, the machine upon which I install it *must* have an Internet connection. Not all my systems are connected to the Web, nor should they be. But I cannot install _software that I’ve purchased_ on them, because the C|Net installer mus be able to see the Web. As a result, I am constrained to bypass software, software that otherwise might have provided you with valuta to populate your dining room table. In this case, it’s a lose-lose-lose-lose situation.

    I can understand the developer’s mindset – I’m there, too – but you needs must step outside that mental frame when making evaluations. You should be addressing all scenarios, not just the one that is of value to you.

    1. Yeah… It’s a sub-optimal solution to the problem. There are other solutions too, but at least they’re trying.

      I didn’t address anything else there simply because I only wanted to focus on C|NET and their attempts to redeem themselves from a bad blunder.