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Apple and CompUSA Working on 'Software on Demand' 108

pimpbott writes "Apple is working with SoftwareToGo to install kiosks in CompUSA stores to deliver software on demand. Imagine walking into your local CompUSA and ordering some obscure title that nobody would ordinarily stock, paying for it, and walking out with a custom-burned CD-ROM. This not only gets more titles published and available to the public at large by reducing the need for expensive shelf space and other publishing costs, but it keeps embarassingly large, mostly empty software boxes from ending up in the landfill."
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Apple and CompUSA Working on 'Software on Demand'

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  • P2P (Score:2, Funny)

    by defunc ( 238921 )
    Anybody thinks that they will be using LimeWire to download the software ?
    • Since I can't find didly squat on LimeWire anymore, I'd say no. Not that I ever search for software, but these days, there's so few other servers to connect to, a *.* search comes up nearly empty.

  • by amorico ( 40859 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @09:02AM (#5502391)
    Imagine walking into your local CompUSA...


    I know several campfire horror stories that begin that way. They usually end with "but that is the price AFTER the mail-in rebate. {cue maniacal laughter}"

    • Re:stop scaring me (Score:5, Informative)

      by WatertonMan ( 550706 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @02:44PM (#5505640)
      Which is a good point, and not just funny. First off it has been my experience that rebates are a pain in the ass. When I bought my Mac I had all sorts of rebates I sent in. Unfortunately I only ended up getting about 1/2 the rebates back. One took me months because Apple cancelled the rebate fairly soon after I bought the computer. But instead of keeping the department open they just closed down the PO Box. Fortunately I called several of the other rebate offers and finally got an understanding manager. Then I found out that of the three, nearly identical, bar codes on the box I had to send in, I'd sent the wrong one in. More hassle. Fortunately again a very understanding person on the other end of the phone. Unfortunately not all the other rebate offers were as understanding.

      My advice? Think of rebates as a "plus." Do NOT calculate it into your purchase. Unless you have a lot of disposable cash, you can't count on the price. (i.e. your initial cost) Secondly it can be up to months before you see that cash. Thirdly I'd say at least half my rebates run into problems. Then you have to fit into your busy day tracking down phone numbers, finding receipts, etc. In about 1/4 of all rebates I never see the rebate. (That is with all products, not just computers)

      This is why companies love rebates instead of price reductions. They know that in practice they won't pay out all of them.

      My advice? Always keep a backup of everything. (A scanner is very nice for this) Prior to sending in the rebate, call up the help line to ensure you're sending in the right proof. (I think that a lot of rebate instructions are intentionally misleading so as to make it less likely you'll collect) Also if it is a rebate with a reasonable price (i.e. hundreds of dollars) consider sending certified mail and keep your proof.

      CompUSA isn't particularly worse than anyone else in rebates. But they do tend to over-emphasize the price of products in terms of rebates.

      • CompUSA isn't particularly worse than anyone else in rebates.

        False. CompUSA is the worst when it comes to rebates. I've bought electronics from all the stores around here. Not only do they do tricks with barcodes like you said, having very similar barcodes so you don't know what to send. You have to actually track every rebate (they like to use more than one per product) or else they'll forget about it. In no other store have I had nearly as bad of an experience then at CompUSA. I no longer will buy a prod

  • by mcgroarty ( 633843 ) <<brian.mcgroarty> <at> <>> on Thursday March 13, 2003 @09:10AM (#5502427) Homepage
    More and more people are getting broadband. Call me unimaginative but, in the long run, what would this scheme offer over downloadable software? I'm sure some people will still be lacking internet connections, but will it really be enough people to subsidize this form of software distribution?
    • Well it might make it easier for people to get legal software without having to transmit their creditcard info over the internet. Not everyone seems to be happy to do that (and not everyone has a credit card)
    • by GeorgeH ( 5469 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @09:33AM (#5502590) Homepage Journal
      Publisher buy-in. Maybe I haven't been looking hard enough, but I haven't seen (legal) downloads of Microsoft Office X, Adobe Photoshop, Unreal 2, or pretty much anything else that you might want. Publishers are leery to offer downloads, this gives them the peace of mind to put their downloads in the context of a store setting.

      Besides, I have a cable modem and it would still take me less time to go to CompUSA, wait for a CD to burn, and go home than it would for me to download the image.
      • I got an email from my former alma mater, with a link that said I could go download any MS product I wanted, for free. Of course, I am no longer enrolled, but I decided to go to the link to see what it was like. Indeed, they did have a whole lot of MS software available for free download. I didn't download anything, because they had some scary looking EULA that said if I wasn't a student then they would come cut my balls off. I wonder how much the school had to pay for that service (and as a state schoo
        • Assuming you got the same letter I did, or at least a similiar one, check that it really is any MS product. I thought that it was cool until I noticed Office X was not avalable. In fact, I saw no Mac SW at all, Windows only.
          • OK, so I shouldn't have taken the grandparent's claim with a grain of slat? Oh good lord... M$ is pushing its crack on the college kiddies... First hit is free - after that... M$ Licensing 9.0
            (bottom of EULA reads: We own your 90ddamned f$cking soul, you mindless sheep sucker-ass punks!)

            Sounds like a certain corporation is feeling the pressure from the popularity of OSS on campuses...

            Scary, scary tactic indeed.
      • by Lord Grey ( 463613 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @10:54AM (#5503339)
        One major difference between this idea and a simple download is what the customer receives: tangible proof that he or she legally bought the product.

        The possibility of embedding registration numbers and the like on the CD is there, of course, and is probably part of the system.

        All in all, given the fact that many people still can't download truly huge CD images from home, this seems like a promising idea.

      • Maybe I haven't been looking hard enough, but I haven't seen (legal) downloads of Microsoft Office X, Adobe Photoshop, Unreal 2, or pretty much anything else that you might want.

        I believe IBM will let you download electronic verions of their software, and knock 10% off the price.


      • by Anonymous Coward
        I would assume this would be better off if they had the files on location. They can download them to the kiosk, and burn them in no time. Hell, maybe even have a laser printer at the kiosk to print out the software manuals as well.

        Compusa has the benefit of having software as one of their products. They can have the product in backup and produce it on site for a customer. Not like barnes and nobles where if you're looking for a book, you have to wait 3-5 weeks for them to order it.

        This is would be a n
    • The question is whether the cost of the kiosk storage exceeds the cost of serving your program data. You might, as a consumer, have access to broadband but if it costs a penny to push to the customer via the Internet and half a penny to distribute a copy via kiosks then kiosks will maintain their viability purely on a cost basis. They also offer some minimal marketing impact because searchers looking to buy will get a list of products, including yours that are available in the proper category. When was the
    • I still like having a piece of physical media that I can point at and store away. I have purchased online downloads before, a few small games and PowerDVD XP. In the case of PowerDVD I ended up buying it twice because I had lost my original download and serial number as well as the software itself in a nasty hard drive crash. I talked with the PowerDVD folks and they kept asking me to fax them a copy of my CD no matter how many times I protested that I had purchased a downloadable copy.

      This could have bee

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Buying anonymously with cash.
    • by goombah99 ( 560566 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @11:08AM (#5503481)
      advantages to publisher:
      1) lower cost of market entry: It offers a way for an obscure title to become discovered and expand without having to be ready for a major distribution market. yet still make some money and have professional distribution even when its small.

      2) If they print your disk for you they can watermark the serial number right into it. if it showed up later on the net they know you did it. heck maybe they could just make your visa card number part of the activation code.

      3) plus they could embed all sort of copy protection into it as any physical disk publisher can do.

      4) Sure dilligent thieves could subvert this but if they are stocking rare titles theres no market.

      advnatages to buyer:
      1) youre getting the software from a trusted source. personally I sweat over installing any software I download from an untrusted source. its the dark side of freeware => lack of responsible party.

      2) proof of ownership. you own it. maybe you can even sell it to someone else if you want. or qualify for upgrades. In bussiness circles having an official hardcopy is an important part of software accountability.

      3) one stop shopping and less hassle. imagine you work at a company an suddenly need some peice of software, do you want to go web surfing or just go buy it: did I get the latest version? did I get all of the parts I need to install it? did I get the documentation? do I have it all on a hard copy disk? Did it download correctly? yes you can do all of that, but its nice to be able to pay someone to do it for you.

      4) if you pay for software it increaces the chance creators are likely to create more or maintain it or possibly even offer support.
    • why does everyone assume I have a credit card?
  • It's about time... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by autojive ( 560399 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @09:14AM (#5502447)

    It's about time someone thought of doing something like this. Heck, if it catches on, you could probably set this up as a vending type of machine. Imagine going down to the "Quick-E-Mart" at 3AM andpurchasing a copy of an imaging program to help work on the report due first thing in the morning.

    Of course, I think that there needs to be some valid way to register or prove that you actually did purchase this software since something like this may cause more piracy and/or fraud.
  • manuals? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by steveheath ( 119200 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @09:18AM (#5502467)
    I like to think that the software I just bought comes with at least a little bit of explaination.. I fondly remember the days when you bought a book on linux and you got slackware free on a CD.. (I still have the CDs and books)
    • Hell ... I miss the days when I'd buy a software package and get a manual. Hundreds of pages of explanations, a tutorial manual, a reference manual. Back when software was actually worth buying it.
      • Yeah, but as Pudge says, You can't grep a dead tree.

        Honestly, I prefer to have documentation in PDF. Being able to open the 833 page MySQL manual in PDF format and search for INNER JOIN is a lot easier than grabbing the (heavy) printed manual, looking up INNER JOIN in the index and then checking every page to see if it is what you're looking for.

  • by jbarr ( 2233 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @09:21AM (#5502482) Homepage
    I personally like "hard copy" manuals. To cut costs, many companies are providing documentation in the form of online electronic files. For those of us who actually like reading "hard copy" manuals, this type of software distribution might be a problem.

    Of course, that might just be the "price" you pay for access to the specific software that you want.
    • I wold agree - if they're not going to be able to include the software manual, the price should be reduced by some degree.

      Granted, there's a difference in how much - if the manual is typically a pamplet, then it won't make much difference. But it's an idea.
    • Great idea, but look at the manuals companies give these days. Even when I buy a box the manuals are basically useless.
    • Split the cost. Honestly. There's a game distributor in canada somewhere that charges less for games if you buy the game itself. Skip the box and other fluff. ALl you get is an envelope with a shrink rapped game and instruction manual. The consumer saves like, $20.

      Why not do the same /w softare to some degree? If you want the manuals.. charge an extra $10 for it.

    • Remember the "print on demand" book machines [] that Barnes & Noble were supposedly trying out a while back? Wouldn't it be great if the Software Machine were hooked up to one of those so you really could get the whole package? Heck, throw in a shrink-wrap machine if you want to get really fancy.

      All said, though, how is this different and better than downloading software from the manufacturer over the Internet and burning a CD myself?
    • I agree I think Kinkos would be a better place to do this than Compusa. Its pretty easy for Kinko's to add CD/DVD burning (they already have internet access). Its pretty hard for CompUSA to add on demand publishing and binding.
    • For me, sometimes a hard manual is just necessary. But I don't think it's because there's anything better about having a dead tree in my lap. I think it's because we haven't quite gotten the electric metaphor of paper down yet. Instead of imitating the banal, everyday practical thing that paper is, we've gotten a bunch of glitz that promises a lot and delivers little.

      Instead of giving a user an easily extensible format that can be quickly and easily changed, we've gotten more and more "tools" to make elect
  • by Spencerian ( 465343 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @09:23AM (#5502503) Homepage Journal
    The Macintosh has thousands of titles, but you'd be hard-pressed to know this by walking into any computer store--even Apple Stores.

    Part of this is how the Mac market works. There are proportionally fewer titles to PCs, but then, only a handful of titles are required for general applications, and the quality of Macintosh titles are stronger, in my opinion, because that smaller market is agressively competitive. Mac users can't tolerate crappy apps. And, frankly, how many word processors, screensavers, photo galleries, and diagnostic tools does one really need?

    The other problem is mindshare on the part of a retailer. Space is precious, and you don't want to use lots of space on titles that move slowly. In an Apple Store, the most common and popular apps are displayed. Need a copy of CADMover? You'll need to go to mail-order or call the vendor. Photoshop plug-ins? Pre-flight software? SOL if go to the store.

    On-demand CDs is an excellent idea for these situations. In fact, since all Macs sold today come with DVD-ROM ability, you can pack many apps on a single disk. The idea helps the sales and throughput of the scrappy but innovative businesses with fine products, and eases the retailer's space burden while still selling product. More importantly, you, the consumer, get what you need. Wins all around.

    Possible problems? Bad media, as you could have with any software purchase. This idea also doesn't help products with a hardware element, such as the EyeTV PVR.

    • Although this is a good idea in principle, it leaves open a few questions:
      • The CompUSA delivery method is only an advantage over apps that you can't currently download and unlock. Many of the small apps that you mention are like this already.
      • And will this new delivery method accomodate the apps that aren't downloadable? I don't believe the article specified. If it doesn't, it's only useful for folks without broadband connections ie home users, but no businesses, not even home based ones. OTOH, most apps
      • "The CompUSA delivery method is only an advantage over apps that you can't currently download and unlock. Many of the small apps that you mention are like this already."

        What difference does this make? The point is, they are all in one retail place, ready to go. To you and I that might not matter much, but to the other 99% of the retail consumers it will be a miracle.

        The point is that the apps will be visible without the cost of shelf space. In a retail setting this has NOT happened before.

    • by dbrutus ( 71639 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @09:58AM (#5502783) Homepage
      Since you not only get a software CD but a unique serial number, media replacement policies will probably be identical to boxed software, return within 30 days with receipt.

      As for EyeTV PVR, the smart move would be to replace some of the mac software title space with mac hardware peripherals. CompUSA *does* adjust space policies due to sales figures. If people buy more mac, they'll stock more mac.
      • Media replacement will probably be a whole lot easier with a system such as this.

        No need to remember to save manuals or boxes for whatever proof of purchase information is required, that you're not going to be able to find when you need it in any case. You've got a receipt, which most people do or should save in any case, and that's your proof of purchase right there. Walk into CompUSA. Say the dog ate your disc. You already have the CD Key (it's right there on your reciept, or distributed seperately).
    • all Macs sold today come with DVD-ROM ability

      Not yet. The $999 iBook and all CRT iMacs still ship with CD-ROM drives. More importantly, I don't have a DVD-ROM drive yet.

  • SO this means ill be getting LESS documentation? I didnt think that was possible.
  • Realistically... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ry R. ( 658722 ) < minus poet> on Thursday March 13, 2003 @09:59AM (#5502786) Homepage
    Realistically most software isn't that big, Photoshop is about 150MB, that's a lot to download on my dial-up but who going to drop $700 after just walking into a CompuServ, if you have that money you can have it overnight with FedEx.

    And most good software for the Mac comes from Shareware and Freeware developers,and I'd bet, though I couldn't verify, that the average size of those files isn't much more than 20MB.

    Otherwise, with the exception of other bloated (usually for the best) by Adobe and Microsoft (which you usually order with your computer anyway) there isn't much that anyone can't download overnight on almost any connecntion, and, as someone pointed out, those times have been dropping because of the proliferation of broadband.

    I think it's a neat idea but totally unecessary. Finding Mac software is very hard, especially in non-urban areas (the Circuit City didn't have a single Mac app, except, by chance, the old Diablo which was released in the same box for both OS's), but demand just isn't there for kiosks, especially not at CompuServ.

    Apple would be better off having offered a super-secure, super-reliable server to download software from, instead of asking people to drive an hour to get what they could download in that time.
    • And most good software for the Mac comes from Shareware and Freeware developers,and I'd bet, though I couldn't verify, that the average size of those files isn't much more than 20MB.

      If this catches on, it might replace the shareware market. Shareware is shareware because it is so expensive to distribute software through retail. Since this has no upfront costs, it's a good way for small-time developers to sell their software.

      I don't know how big the cut Software-To-Go takes, but I bet its comparable to
    • You missed the most important part - obscure software that isn't normally carried, even at CompUSA. It's gotten better with the boxes shrinking to DVD-cases (more titles/shelf), but they still only order what they think will sell & rotate out quickly. Also, broadband isn't nearly as prolific as you think. The Kiosk would be able to demo the software, which you can't do without downloading the full install. In addition, you'd get a CD and case, whereas from the 'net you'd have to spend even more time
      • by jaoswald ( 63789 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @01:54PM (#5505126) Homepage
        I'd like to pick up older games like Full Throttle or Sam & Max, or the Infocom collections, without relying on eBay

        I don't think this is likely to fly. Most programs, games especially, are not particularly future compatible. Porting software to Mac OS X is feasible with Carbon, but isn't automatic. As soon as you ask for money, you are setting up expectations that the program will actually work, not just on museum-piece hardware.

        Think about how little software from the Mac OS 7 era still works on OS 9, much less OS X. There's always some glitch (doesn't work on HFS+ volumes, had some weird implementation of heirarchical menus, etc.)

        If the owner of these old games hasn't seen fit to update them for the new platform, this kiosk isn't going to make that much difference in the economics. You still need to pay the developers to go over the code to eliminate bit-rot, for a market that is probably very small.

        The main benefit is for retailers, who don't have to keep inventory and shelf space for lots of Mac titles, when they hardly have space for the PC titles they want to carry.
        • Full Throttle, Sam & Max, the Infocom collections, Civilization II, Diablo I, Master of Orion 2, Heroes of Might and Magic 2, JauntTrooper (Mission Thunderbolt, c. 1991), and even The Fools Errand (c. 1987) all run just fine under MacOS X in Classic. This is all MacOS 7 era stuff, except for the bits that were designed for 6.

          In fact, the VAST majority of Mac software that I have tested still works just fine, even the stuff from long ago. Basically, if it actually followed the rules in the Inside Mac
  • I have two issues with a system like this. 1. How easy would it be to do this. Will I have to run down a sales person and will i get strange looks then the manager then "ohh yea I forgot we did that" 2. Any software? Such as games? Because some of the software is not boxed what about price? Will it be cheaper because I am not getting a manual and whatnot?
  • by shunnicutt ( 561059 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @10:15AM (#5502934)
    I see a lot of comments from the Slashdot perspective, but for the people out there that do frequent CompUSA, this is something that Apple should be commened for trying.

    If this takes off, Macintosh owners will gain access to more software. CompUSA will be able to stock more titles for less space with no hassle with moving physical boxes around.

    Not only that, PC shoppers might take a look at the Apple equipment and ask, 'what about software?' Then they can browse the listings at the kiosk and see what's available.

    Apple faces significant pressure on many fronts in today's marketplace, but it's nice to see them trying new things. In fact, in their position, they must.
    • This is the correct thought pattern. The chief complaint of people that see what they can do with Mac OS X is "well can I run $title on it?"

      With one of these kiosks hitched to a fast line (NOT DSL, CABLE, OTHER RESIDENTIAL ACCESS) they could find $title and get it right then when they purchase the hardware, rather than "Hmm... I better find out if I can do that, then come back and maybe get this"

      For the most part, if a customer leaves the store to do some research, they will not be coming back to mak
  • by Enrico Pulatzo ( 536675 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @10:19AM (#5502970)
    People like looking at the box to make sure it's the right thing. I can only assume that most consumers won't be using this service, as they wouldn't necessarily know what software they're looking for. There's a reason it's called shopping, and not buying stuff.
    • How will you browse?

      Put simply ... each product will probably have information about it on the kiosk similar and possibly more informative than whats on current shrink-wrap software packages. I didn't 'RTFA' but this just seems like the logical choice for browsing does it not?

      I didn't read it because it didn't really interest me ... as for comments about missing hard copy documentation ... most shrink wrap packages I have bought have basic install information and the rest in PDF format as it is.

    • R.T.F.A. Does not stand for "Reactionary Thoughts For All"... From Apple's SoftwareToGo page:
      The two PPS' multi-page product presentation includes screen shots, video/audio demos, text description and system requirements. In each store, the two PPS', with at least one in a prominent end-cap position, are complete with signage and an electronic reader board that scrolls titles housed on the system to attract customers.
      • My thought wasn't that you couldn't page through the interface, but rather the people who don't know what they're looking for. The spontaneous sales will lag, as no one will be able to say "Reader Rabbit, hey my niece will like that". The flashing random title names does NOT make up for that. That's what shopping is. Buying stuff is what this allows you to do. Unless you spend an hour in front of one of the kiosks, holding up the store traffic.
        • by Gropo ( 445879 )
          I get your drift... My thoughts lead to Toys R Us game title cabinets... You don't really get to see the package design until you go pick it up at the service desk.

          In the dozen-or-so CompUSA's I've been to, the PC software titles are arranged by category - sometimes dispersed throughout the store. BestBuy/Wiz/Circuit City kiosks don't get all too much attention from customers. I guess most brick-and-mortar patrons think: "Hey I'm in the store, why do something I could do at home?" which is I guess your
    • I suppose you could browse the same way you do at a video store.

      There can still be display boxes. You'd take em to the checkout (burnout?) counter, get your CDs, and the display boxes would be returned to the shelf.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 13, 2003 @10:26AM (#5503057)
    SoftwareToGo reminds me of the Nintendo Disk Writer [] systems [] or the "Game Kiosk" [] idea for the SNES and GameBoy. (If only in terms of overall concept. I also seem to have this misconception that I was able to reuse old cartridges in the DiskWriter system . . . )

    I thought it was a good idea then, and I still think it's a good idea now. Now if we can only get movies and music this way :-)
  • by thatguywhoiam ( 524290 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @10:46AM (#5503257)
    I mean, I pick up some software every time I walk into Future Shop (Canada's CompUSA). I just plug the 'ol iPod into one of the demo Macs and get After Effects, Office, etc. Very fast, doesn't even cost me a CD-R.


    • I doubt they would allow you to hook up your custom media to get it. They would probably be afraid that it might be possible to transmit viruses or do something malicious.
      • Who's allowing anything?

        If I read this post right, thisguywhoIam just confessed (tongue-in-cheek, I hope) to grand larceny. Of course CUSA wouldn't allow it, anymore than they would allow to burn a CD of their demo software sitting on a machine with a CD-RW drive.

        Wait, maybe I need to go commit a little larceny myself...

  • One Better (Score:4, Interesting)

    by 4of12 ( 97621 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @11:09AM (#5503492) Homepage Journal

    Why bother with the part where you walk into CompUSA? The last time I went in there I had to wait in line quite a long while to talk to someone knowledgeable, but was accosted without prompting by a lurking sales droid to buy an extended warranty on products I was holding while I was waiting in yet another line for a cashier:)

    No, really.

    With hard drive space so cheap, why not pre-load all kinds of software, each with a unique encryption key (varies for software, computer) and let the user call in with a credit card number to get the key for the software?

    Until broadband for the last mile is a reality, I think this is a lot less hassle than visiting CompUSA.

    • "With hard drive space so cheap, why not pre-load all kinds of software, each with a unique encryption key (varies for software, computer) and let the user call in with a credit card number to get the key for the software?"

      I don't know about you, but I fill any size hard drive within 6 months. After that, you're gonna start deleting that crap off of there.

      I say no, when I buy a mac I want just the OS and nothing else on there. Let me decide to put whatever crap is on the hard drive.
    • The benefit of this sytem is that it doesn't neccesarily give 'The Big Boys' a preferential advantage...

      A bottom-rung iBook's drive would hold a finite amount of pre-packaged wares; preferential treatment would be neccesary. Any vendor can be represented on one of these kiosks within the same hierarchy as anyone else. Despite the detracting factors, Apple already exhibits preferential behavior with the "Software" directory on an iLife subscriber's iDisk.

      Apple seems to be pushing the "Democracy for all d
    • With hard drive space so cheap, why not pre-load all kinds of software, each with a unique encryption key (varies for software, computer) and let the user call in with a credit card number to get the key for the software?

      This has been tried. I think one of the main problems is that the software gets out of date. Six months from now, there is a new version. You don't want people to keep buying the old version that came with their hard drive. The other problem is probably keeping up with changes at the comp
    • Re:One Better (Score:2, Insightful)

      by repetty ( 260322 )
      "Why bother with the part where you walk into CompUSA?"

      Because that's where cash-in-hand customers go to spend money?

    • Back in the day, my Mom ordered a Quadra from Apple and it came with some cd's that had locked software on them. I don't remember exactly how it worked or what it was called (Software Express?) but I imagine you called and gave them a credit card number and they'd give you the key.

      Don't know how succesful they were, just that my Mom never got anything from them.
  • The only shred of content in that article that is news is CompUSA. Users have been dowloading software for years now through various means. Does CompUSA think that by installing a Software to Go kiosk in their store, that's going to expand their (and STG's) market?

    Has anyone tried to get help in a CompUSA store? It's impossible to find somebody who knows much about anything (if anyone out there reading this works on the CompUSA sales floor, sorry. It's true, you guys have a rep for lagging). How exactly
    • Well, you see, if Apple is invilved, they are going to make this kiosk as easy as possible to use. That is what Apple is known for. "It just works."
      • Yah, except that Apple has merely partenered with SoftwareToGo on these...

        From the looks of their logo and kiosk display, I should hope Apple unleashes the design ninjas on STG's design/marketing department...

        If you're having trouble with the image, imagine a hoarde of standard ninjas with "switch" testimonials on the backs of their shinobi shozokos...
  • Steam (Score:2, Interesting)

    This is where I think we'll see software distribution going...

    Right now, Steam is being tested specifically for delivering Half-Life and various mods such as Counter-Strike, but in a presentation they gave at the Game Developer's Conference a couple of years ago, they discussed how it could be used for delivering any type of software. It's pretty straightforward: you have a user account, you select which application you want to use, the app checks your account against the soft

  • by jimlau ( 581205 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @01:56PM (#5505157) Homepage
    I happen to work as a salesman at CompUSA (I know that's probably a bad word around here). In my defense, the main reason I work there is to counter all the computer-ignorant (especially Mac-ignorant) sales staff I experienced when I shopped there for Macs.

    I think this software on demand distribution system will be generally a good thing for the market, because I explain several times a day how the software a customer is looking for exists, but just not here. Very few users are savvy enough to pirate the software, many wouldn't know where to look to find the software, quite a few aren't comfortable with online credit card transactions, and having this resource would be very helpful. Also, CompUSA installs pretty much everything it sells for free. So in theory, I could send a customer with a brand new computer out the door with all the hardware and software they need, even if it's an obscure title. That is valuable. And CompUSA can be pretty lame about keeping products in stock, and this gives us more options for the customer. Although, in fairness, our store could run out of the box inserts or something stupid like that and void all the advantages of this system : ]

    I'm curious to see if my store gets one.

  • This is a good idea because it will give us Mac people somewhere to buy software (beside the internet). Stores do not generally have a robust selection of Mac software on their shelves. This would give them a way to have the selection without the shelves.

    Even going P2P the selection of Mac software is bad (unless you are after office or photoshop).
  • I used to walk around CompUSA, et. al., to find what software is available for my Mac. What I really wanted, & never found, were Demos of software to get a real look & feel before buying a certain application. I would like them right there in the store to peruse. (Even the printed box wasn't enough info.) re: downloading. I would rather recieve an actual CD with demoed software than hassle with downloading & copying onto a disk for backup. Regarding documentation, I have mourned for years the
  • You'd think Apple's web people would pay more attention to details like that....
  • Who's going to watch and run this system?
    Can the store prevent someone from walking in the store with a 20gig ipod and leaving with 20 gigs worth of downloaded software?
  • Apple wants this so they can issue OS X and application updates (e.g., iDVD aka iLife). This will make (1) impulse purchases more likely and (2) allow them to update the Apple software options in the store nearly instantaneously - think MacWorld releases.

    Third party apps are the gravy of this basic meal.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Forget about your needs...this isn't about you. The biggest benefit here isn't the convenience to the shopper, it's the ability for the store to...

    1. Stock a wider selection of titles

    2. Prevent theft (hard to walk out the door with a kiosk).

    3. Save money on inventory. Retailers *hate* having to tie up their cash in physical goods. It's a neccessary cost, but that's money that could be off doing other things on the operations or finance side of the business.

    4. Make more money on existing shelf space by p

  • Load it onto my iPod and I'm out'a here
  • For those customers who don't have broadband running into their house, burn software updates and demos for free. Not having to download a 76MB combo updater for OSX 10.2, a 90MB game demo, and a few other things like that would probably sell a lot more machines and software.
  • This is not a new idea at all. I remember buying games from Menzies (a UK newsagent chain) for the Spectrum+. You browse the shelves and take the empty box up to the counter. They'd then put a blank cassette into a machine and make a copy of the game you want and put the cassette into the box.
    Yes, it meant a bit of a wait but it had all the same advantages for the retailer as this idea does (no unpopular software clogging up shelves, matching supply to demand etc.). Plus, because you got the official box yo
  • I know most of you are laughing... but for people who can't/won't download stuff from the net (legally or illegally) this may be a great way to save money on packaging and storage. While vastly increasing available titles...

    I think it would work provided they came up with a decent way to keep people from copying the software after it's been burned (at least some titles attempt cd copyright protection now... if everything was on CD-R forget it).

    Now back to Kazaa... =)

We cannot command nature except by obeying her. -- Sir Francis Bacon