TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Electronic Distribution

Volume Number: 13 (1997)
Issue Number: 11
Column Tag: Tools of the Trade

Electronically Distributing Your "Killer App"

by Jeff Ganyard

A quick look at electronic software distribution solutions for the Mac OS

So you're sure that you've finally built the "killer app" all you need is a way for the rest of the world to realize it and buy it. Now you've got to get that marketing machine fired up, educate your sales force, start advertising, book booths at trade shows and most importantly, distribute that all important Internet demo version.

All right, but how are you going to get that demo version to compel the users out there to buy your software? How can you offer enough of the full application's features so that everyone wants it, but not so much that you cannibalize sales of the commercial product? The balance between features and limitations on "demoware" can't be found by a simple formula but you may want to look into Electronic Software Distribution (ESD) solutions. These products can help you easily build limited function, "trialware", "nag ware" or time restricted versions of your software. And when the customer makes the decision to buy the full product, they make their purchase and unlock the software that they already have on their hard disk.

Here's a quick overview of four of the ESD products for Mac OS: InstallerMaker from Aladdin Systems, InterLok from Pace Anti-Piracy, ZipLock from Portland Software, SalesAgent from Release Software Corporation, and Kagi, an electronic software payment service. The first thing you must do is identify the ESD model that will work best for your products -- each company uses a somewhat different model.

InstallerMaker

With the release of InstallerMaker 4.0, Aladdin Systems has taken their successful installer creation technology and added transaction capabilities to its feature list. There is no up front fee to create trialware with InstallerMaker. Their model is based on collecting fees from each product sale, starting at a minimum $5 per transaction and moving to a percentage in the range of 10-15%. (The exact amount is somewhat negotiable; contact their sales organization for details.) InstallerMaker is very easy to use, yet powerful enough to meet most people's needs.

Not surprisingly, the user interface looks and acts much like an extended version of StuffIt Deluxe, but with much more control over what can happen while the archive is being decompressed, files placed in required locations, separate items requiring registration keys, etc. InstallerMaker provides control over the number launches, the number of days until expiration or a fixed expiration date. The user is greeted with a dialog at every launch with information on how much longer the demo will be useful and options to purchase, register, or to use as a demo. Aladdin accepts payment transactions by phone, postal mail, fax and over the Internet using their own protocol. Aladdin uses it's own encryption technology for both the software and the Internet transaction.

Aladdin will provide daily reports on activity and monthly accounting. And of course, since it is InstallerMaker, there is the added bonus of a full featured installer combined with this ESD solution.

InterLok and InterLok Pro

Pace Anti-Piracy offers a very different approach. They have created what should be more accurately described as a developer tool for distribution rather than an transaction system. They offer their product in 2-tiers; InterLok and InterLok Pro. They base their model on quantities distributed per year and are not involved in processing or taking a percentage of the actual financial transaction. The process begins with their wrapper tool, allowing you to easily create distributable products with control over the number of launches, expiry after a set number of days or a fixed expiration date.

When the customer decides to purchase the software, a challenge-response mechanism is used. The wrapper technology will build a challenge based on a variety of elements. The challenge (and presumably the payment) is then sent by the end user to you, where you provide the response to unlock or register the product. Because this mechanism is variably generated by environment, the need for encryption is dramatically reduced, except, of course, for the financial transaction. Their goal is to provide ESD and serialization support for your product, while you take care of distribution and financial interactions. Their key technology can be associated to a hard drive, a key diskette or a simple pass phrase. They look at the characteristics of the media when the software is installed. This means that their unlock authorization and serialization will continue to be valid even after the hard drive (or other media) has been initialized.

Since you completely control the Satisfaction tool - the tool that generates the response codes - the transaction method is up to you. Phone, fax, email are obvious choices, and because Satisfaction is fully scriptable, the construction of a custom CGI to process orders is fairly simple. Release has included a set of docs on scripting the product along with sample web pages and a sample AppleScript CGI to get you started.

The Pro version costs almost twice as much as the standard version, but adds more robust encryption, support for non-executable files, network copy protection, key diskettes, limitation of application functions, installer integration and more flexibility of controls than the standard version though its own API. With the Pro version you could easily build a demo, trial, basic and a "pro" version of your product all from the same source. As a matter of fact, InterLok and InterLok Pro are an example of this. This would allow your customers to upgrade to a more full featured version of your product just by entering a new response code (that they have purchased from you, of course). Look for a Windows version coming around the end of this year.

ZipLock

Portland Software recently released version 2.0 of their product ZipLock. This version adds support for Mac OS and Newton products. They provide an end-to-end solution, where you can use their service for your transactions or you can buy their server software to handle your own merchant account transactions. Their approach is to build an ESD channel and provide the tools for you to participate. The first step is enter into a relationship with a clearing house, their current clearing house partners are: CyberSource Corporation, Internex PowerCommerce Clearinghouse and LitleNet, LLC. With that established, you will be able to use their builder application. (As of August 1997, they were working on a test server for demo use.) The distribution model is buy before you try, but they include the function for a 30 day money back guarantee to the end user. Once the builder has been used on your application, it can be easily distributed online or offline, or through whatever other means you wish. The clearing house will then charge a fee for each transaction, typically a dollar or two.

Portland Software uses RSA licensed encryption in both their package encoding and the purchaser to clearing house transmission. There is no need for a secure connection because the contents are already encrypted. They have gone to great efforts to hide the key information from the user. Once the user has downloaded the product, and tried to launch it, it will first verify the integrity of the package; when successful, the user is greeted with a set of marketing or questionnaire screens. One of the strengths of Portland's product is the complete customizability of these screens. When the user is ready to purchase, they must be connected to the Internet, the client product uses http to communicate with the server to perform the transaction.

If you are interested in purchasing their server software and becoming your own clearing house, they have that option. It is pricey, coming in at $25,000 and is available for Windows NT and Solaris only. You will probably want to expect some very significant sales figures to consider this option.

SalesAgent

Release Software provides a turnkey solution. You send them your product, they wrap it with their SalesAgent technology and will either send it back to you for you to distribute or they will distribute it online, or both. This allows online and offline distribution for you. Currently their Mac OS product produces only "buy before you try" packages, but they intend to offer trialware capabilities in a release due at the end of this year. All of the sales information is available in real time through a secure web site through their Sales Manager program.

In addition to phone and fax, they accept transactions via HTTP or a direct modem dial-up -- convenient for customers who do not have a connection to the Internet. There is an initial "wrapping" fee of $500 per product and they will then take 15% of each transaction. Their technology places a SalesAgent on the end user's hard drive, to prevent unauthorized redistribution of the software. The same SalesAgent will handle all products wrapped by Realease Software. Since the transaction is controlled on their server, price changes can be made dynamically, however the price indicated in the distributed package cannot be changed. Their encryption is licensed from RSA and they use it for their wrapper and the online transactions. They also have received permission to export this use of RSA encryption. Because the user has to pay before accessing the package, it also well suited for non-executable and data file use.

Kagi

Another alternative is a payment processing service such as Kagi. Kagi is a popular service used by many shareware authors. They will help you distribute the software and collect payments, but they leave the serialization implementation up to you. Kagi takes 6.5% of the sale price and passes on all applicable payment service fees; for example, Visa transactions cost an additional 3.5% and a $.032 transaction fee.

Conclusions

There are a variety of products and services available to help you distribute your software electronically. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses. To choose the best for your needs, you must carefully research which distribution and transaction models suit your product and your business model. You can find more information to help you with your research at these web addresses:

  1. Aladdin Systems, Inc. at http://www.aladdinsys.com.
  2. PACE Anti-Piracy at http://www.paceap.com.
  3. Portland Software, Inc. at http://www.portsoft.com.
  4. Release Software Coporation at http://www.releasesoft.com.
  5. Kagi at http://www.kagi.com.

Jeff Ganyard is the co-founder of Mac ISP, supporting people and organizations using the Mac OS to build, develop and provide Internet services. He is also a contributing editor for this issue of MacTech Magazine. Jeff was formerly an Internet Evangelist for Apple Computer, Inc.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

PhotoDesk 4.1.5 - Instagram client for p...
PhotoDesk lets you view, like, comment, and download Instagram pictures/videos. (NO Uploads! / Image Posting! Instagram forbids that! AND you need an existing Instagram account). But you can do so... Read more
Sound Studio 4.8.6 - Robust audio record...
Sound Studio lets you easily record and professionally edit audio on your Mac. Easily rip vinyls and digitize cassette tapes, or record lectures and voice memos. Prepare for live shows with live... Read more
Capo 3.5.1 - Slow down and learn to play...
Capo lets you slow down your favorite songs so you can hear the notes and learn how they are played. With Capo, you can quickly tab out your songs atop a highly-detailed OpenCL-powered spectrogram... Read more
Google Earth 7.1.8.3036 - View and contr...
Google Earth gives you a wealth of imagery and geographic information. Explore destinations like Maui and Paris, or browse content from Wikipedia, National Geographic, and more. Google Earth combines... Read more
QuickBooks 16.1.11.1556 R12 - Financial...
QuickBooks helps you manage your business easily and efficiently. Organize your finances all in one place, track money going in and out of your business, and spot areas where you can save. Built for... Read more
Google Earth 7.1.8.3036 - View and contr...
Google Earth gives you a wealth of imagery and geographic information. Explore destinations like Maui and Paris, or browse content from Wikipedia, National Geographic, and more. Google Earth combines... Read more
QuickBooks 16.1.11.1556 R12 - Financial...
QuickBooks helps you manage your business easily and efficiently. Organize your finances all in one place, track money going in and out of your business, and spot areas where you can save. Built for... Read more
FileZilla 3.24.0 - Fast and reliable FTP...
FileZilla (ported from Windows) is a fast and reliable FTP client and server with lots of useful features and an intuitive interface. Version 3.24.0: New The context menu for remote file search... Read more
Bookends 12.7.8 - Reference management a...
Bookends is a full-featured bibliography/reference and information-management system for students and professionals. Bookends uses the cloud to sync reference libraries on all the Macs you use.... Read more
Duplicate Annihilator 5.8.3 - Find and d...
Duplicate Annihilator takes on the time-consuming task of comparing the images in your iPhoto library using effective algorithms to make sure that no duplicate escapes. Duplicate Annihilator detects... Read more

Super Mario Run dashes onto Android in M...
Super Mario Run was one of the biggest mobile launches in 2016 before it was met with a lukewarm response by many. While the game itself plays a treat, it's pretty hard to swallow the steep price for the full game. With that said, Android users... | Read more »
WarFriends Beginner's Guide: How to...
Chillingo's new game, WarFriends, is finally available world wide, and so far it's a refreshing change from common mobile game trends. The game's a mix of tower defense, third person shooter, and collectible card game. There's a lot to unpack here... | Read more »
Super Gridland (Entertainment)
Super Gridland 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Entertainment Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Match. Build. Survive. "exquisitely tuned" - Rock Paper Shotgun No in-app purches, and no ads! | Read more »
Red's Kingdom (Games)
Red's Kingdom 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Mad King Mac has kidnapped your father and stolen your golden nut! Solve puzzles and battle goons as you explore and battle your... | Read more »
Turbo League Guide: How to tame the cont...
| Read more »
Fire Emblem: Heroes coming to Google Pla...
Nintendo gave us our first look at Fire Emblem: Heroes, the upcoming mobile Fire Emblem game the company hinted at last year. Revealed at the Fire Emblem Direct event held today, the game will condense the series' tactical RPG combat into bite-... | Read more »
ReSlice (Music)
ReSlice 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Music Price: $9.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Audio Slice Machine Slice your audio samples with ReSlice and create flexible musical atoms which can be triggered by MIDI notes or... | Read more »
Stickman Surfer rides in with the tide t...
Stickson is back and this time he's taken up yet another extreme sport - surfing. Stickman Surfer is out this Thursday on both iOS and Android, so if you've been following the other Stickman adventures, you might be interested in picking this one... | Read more »
Z-Exemplar (Games)
Z-Exemplar 1.4 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $3.99, Version: 1.4 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »
5 dastardly difficult roguelikes like th...
Edmund McMillen's popular roguelike creation The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth has finally crawled onto mobile devices. It's a grotesque dual-stick shooter that tosses you into an endless, procedurally generated basement as you, the pitiable Isaac,... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

12-inch 1.2GHz Space Gray Retina MacBook on s...
Amazon has the 2016 12″ 1.2GHz/512GB Space Gray Retina MacBook (Apple model #MLH82LL/A) on sale for $1299.99 including free shipping. Their price is $300 off MSRP. Read more
Twelve South Releases RelaxedLeather Cases fo...
Inspired by the laid-back luxury of burnished leather boots and crafted in rich tones of taupe, herb and marsala, RelaxedLeather cases deliver smart, easy protection for the iPhone 7. Each genuine... Read more
Week’s Best Deal: New 2016 13-inch 2.0GHz Mac...
Amazon has the new 2016 13″ 2.0GHz non-Touch Bar MacBook Pros on sale for a limited time for $225 off MSRP including free shipping: - 13″ 2.0GHz MacBook Pro, Space Gray (MLL42LL/A): $1274.99 $225 off... Read more
Back in stock: Apple refurbished Mac minis fr...
Apple has Certified Refurbished Mac minis available starting at $419. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each mini, and shipping is free: - 1.4GHz Mac mini: $419 $80 off MSRP - 2.6GHz Mac... Read more
Apple Ranked ‘Most Intimate Brand’
The top ranked ‘”intimate” brands continued to outperform the S&P and Fortune 500 indices in revenue and profit over the past 10 years, according to MBLM’s Brand Intimacy 2017 Report, the largest... Read more
B-Eng introduces SSD Health Check for Mac OS
Fehraltorf, Switzerland based independant Swiss company- B-Eng has announced the release and immediate availability of SSD Health Check 1.0, the company’s new hard drive utility for Mac OS X. As the... Read more
Apple’s Education discount saves up to $300 o...
Purchase a new Mac or iPad using Apple’s Education Store and take up to $300 off MSRP. All teachers, students, and staff of any educational institution qualify for the discount. Shipping is free: -... Read more
4-core 3.7GHz Mac Pro on sale for $2290, save...
Guitar Center has the 3.7GHz 4-core Mac Pro (MD253LL/A) on sale for $2289.97 including free shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Their price is a $710 savings over standard MSRP for... Read more
128GB Apple iPad Air 2, refurbished, availabl...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 128GB iPad Air 2s WiFis available for $419 including free shipping. That’s an $80 savings over standard MSRP for this model. A standard Apple one-year warranty is... Read more
13-inch 2.7GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sale for...
B&H Photo has the 2015 13″ 2.7GHz/128GB Retina Apple MacBook Pro on sale for $100 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY tax only: - 13″ 2.7GHz/128GB Retina MacBook Pro (MF839LL/A): $... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* macOS Systems Integration Administra...
…most exceptional support available in the industry. SCI is seeking an Junior Apple macOS systems integration administrator that will be responsible for providing Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions- Deer Pa...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
*Apple* Technician - nfrastructure (United S...
Let’s Work Together Apple Technician This position is based in Portland, ME Life at nfrastructure At nfrastructure, we understand that our success results from our Read more
*Apple* Mobile Master - Best Buy (United Sta...
**467692BR** **Job Title:** Apple Mobile Master **Location Number:** 000602-Columbia MO-Store **Job Description:** **What does a Best Buy Apple Mobile Master Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.