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About robzr

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  1. I think your observations are pretty spot on. As epounds pointed out, the idea of "owning" software really is a misnomer in that all software must be a living entity simply to keep up to date, so the idea of buying once and never buying again is rarely accurate. But that perception of permanence represents one end of the spectrum, while a forced subscription for software - not service - is the other end of the spectrum. Pricewise, they just put themselves in a pretty unpopular position. And I have yet to hear them articulate an argument on how this is beneficial for the customer. I'm having trouble reconciling where they think they fit into the market and their business model. Clearly Dropbox is what they are aiming at. The biggest advantages of Dropbox are the large existing user base - which makes it easy to share files with other users as they are likely to be existing Dropbox users, and simplicity of use. Downsides to Dropbox are questionable security and high reoccurring subscription costs. As I see it, BT Sync has a large and difficult hurdle to clear (user base) to achieve anything remotely close to critical mass, and the only way to do this would be by attacking Dropbox on it's shortcomings. By relying on BT Sync managed tracking servers and a similar "just trust us" attitude to Dropbox, they don't really show a significant advantage on the security argument. They also have to clear the hurdle of being associated with BitTorrent, which has shady connotations due to the large use of BitTorrent for software piracy and content theft. So who to trust, Dropbox or BitTorrent? Kind of a toss up, neither one has a good reputation. By making it $40/year subscription based, yet not offering any cloud storage as Dropbox does, they really aren't winning the cost argument either. And for the vast majority of casual users the free Dropbox limitation of 2 GB is far less restrictive than 10 folders, so they just lost that argument as well. Especially considering the benefits of Dropbox - mature cross platform support, a web client, cloud based backup. So what exactly is BT Sync, just a niche product for people with large quantities of data to backup who don't like the cloud? Too bad, seems like a missed opportunity to me. I'd love to ditch Dropbox, but they just talked me out of it. Rob
  2. Glad to hear about the no ads! Lower entry price is (debatably) great when it's a $1500 multimedia editing suite or even a $350 set of very complex and de-facto standard office tools, but is that really going to be a barrier to entry for a file directory sync tool? If your competition is the well-entrenched Dropbox, and your big selling point is that there is no third party cloud dependency it really seems like it's shooting yourself in the foot by then introducing a monthly or reoccuring fee - getting away from monthly fees seems like a major reason why people would consider your product over Dropbox in the first place! As for upgrade fees, I dropped Parallels because I got sick of paying for a Parallels update that was necessary every time an OS X update came out, so thats also a tough line to walk. I couldn't be happier with 1Password more however, they have been great about providing additional functionality without constantly squeezing more money out of existing customers, I sing their praises to other people every chance I get and many people I know are now happily using their software. This model has worked out well for them, they seem to be dominating their market, people love them and they are probably doing very well with sales. Rob
  3. There was a lot of backlash when Adobe went subscription with Creative Cloud - just to get a taste take a look at the Amazon reviews for a Creative Cloud membership ( vs the reviews for CS6 ( Same product, different pricing model. Same thing with Microsoft Office. And (like Pro Tools), these are expensive products, so they can in part justify the subscription model by creating a lower cost barrier to entry. Also these are all products with very established markets and no real competition, so they can force customers against their will into an undesirable pricing model. None of this holds true for BitTorrent Sync, which is a new product trying to take marketshare from a popular existing service. The only advantage of a subscription based pricing model for BitTorrent Sync is that it creates a steady and high revenue stream for the business. But I don't see how it is good for customers at all, and in general, customers are smart enough to see that. Dropbox can do it because they are actually providing cloud storage. BitTorrent Sync is simply providing trackers, with no way to allow users to use their own trackers. So in their case it's less of a service and more of a forced sales hook. I don't see this model as being successful. That's unfortunate, because it seems like a potentially great product that could address the most significant shortcomings with DropBox (insecure reliance on a third party, high reoccuring fees for any significant amount of storage). Technically, in both these regards, they may be marginally (incrementally) better in both these areas, but they have to overcome the huge market penetration of DropBox, so marginally better isn't going to do it. And advertising in on your desktop is just tacky. There goes pretty much the entire Apple user base. Rob
  4. My perspective as a diehard Linux user since the mid-90s and a platform engineer for a SaaS provider - I am not claiming any particular expertise, but I am somewhat informed. The subscription model rubs me the wrong way for software, as it does many, so by going with a subscription based model (for software - NOT service), you will keep your user base somewhat small and open a vacuum for an open-source, free solution. And let's be honest, with the large overlap between Bit Torrent users and the open source community, would probably happen pretty quickly. There would not be a massive barrier to create comparable software and the more your charge / the more unfavorable your terms are (ahem, subscription), the more likely that is to happen. I'd much prefer if you sell the software for a fixed amount - on a Mac sell it though the App Store, which takes care of updates, security screening (trusted source!) and billing - and allow it to run in either a managed mode - in which case the user could get a subscription to your sync coordination service - and clearly it would be easy for you to then begin offering an encrypted backup/cloud/web-browseable service. But also allow it to be used in a self-managed mode, so the use of your services is not required. And charge what makes it worth your while. I'd pay $50+ for it, if it's the best thing out there, that's a bargain. Make up for it with volume. Make Dropbox obsolete. There is a class of users who will pay what it takes for quality, thats the user base you want. It's been extremely lucrative for Apple. There are security issues with all my computers talking to your servers. Best case I have to trust you are only sending necessary information and not mining or examining my private data. Every time I switch wifi networks, etc, there is a traceable and loggable series of packets heading out to your server, which makes tracking me easy for you or any interested parties who may be in a position to examine traffic en-route to your servers. And we all know they are out there, that's not even debatable anymore. You're also cutting out corporate customers who are not open to using a third party service for the sharing of sensitive data, and let's face it, being connected with the Bit Torrent protocol and company has certain implications/connotations, whether or not they are deserved. So neuter that argument. If someone has the expertise to manage the sync infrastructure themselves, let them. It will be a minority of business/power users and you'll still get their licensing fees. People who want to avoid Dropbox and commercial solutions are going to be disproportionately privacy & security minded - and having mandatory third-party server interaction is a huge turnoff for potentially your largest and most vocal/influential user base. So sell that as an optional service targeted at more mainstream users; perhaps enabled by default with a trial or even 1 year subscription (bake that into the sales price), that makes it damn simple for the 95% out there who don't have the time and expertise to setup VPNs and understanding NAT and routing. Then you still profit of those of us who want to self-manage/host, you avoid creating a vacuum for a free solution, you don't chase away the security conscious/informed users - who keep in mind have a disproportionately loud voice in the community that reviews software or just recommends to friends/family. In short, if you sell this as a service that requires use of your servers and/or a subscription pricing model, I will not buy it. I already have Dropbox + Boxcrypt, why should I move. Bit Torrent means nothing to me if I still have to trust you. And not many people are going to think that the Bit Torrent corporation is more trustworthy than Dropbox. Perception, not reality. Sell it with at least the option to use it stand-alone, and I'd pay $79 on the Mac App store, and tell all my coworkers, friends and family what a great product it is. Rob