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Apple Businesses

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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  • manuals? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by steveheath ( 119200 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @10:18AM (#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)
  • by jbarr ( 2233 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @10:21AM (#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.
  • by puddytat ( 120371 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @10:23AM (#5502498) Homepage
    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 Spencerian ( 465343 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @10:23AM (#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.
  • by GeorgeH ( 5469 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @10:33AM (#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.
  • Realistically... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ry R. ( 658722 ) <ry.braxtonian@com> on Thursday March 13, 2003 @10:59AM (#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.
  • by shunnicutt ( 561059 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @11:15AM (#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.
  • by Enrico Pulatzo ( 536675 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @11:19AM (#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.
  • by mkoz ( 323688 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @11:26AM (#5503059)
    Great idea, but look at the manuals companies give these days. Even when I buy a box the manuals are basically useless.
  • by Lord Grey ( 463613 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @11:54AM (#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.

  • by goombah99 ( 560566 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @12:08PM (#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.
  • by nycroft ( 653728 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @12:31PM (#5503679) Homepage
    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 does a person who doesn't know much about computers (hence the reason they're in CompUSA in the first place) going to figure out how to work the kiosk? Who at CompUSA is going to help them?

    The sad but true fact is this: People like to have something tangible to look over before they buy. That's why packaging exists in the first place. People who are not knowledgeable about downloading and installing software from home, where they should be doing it are not going to walk up to a kiosk and get the software all by themselves. Face it. Example: how often do you see people in Borders using the kiosks to look up books? Not that often. That's because people who can't look up titles for themselves will go straight to a sales person, and ask.

    Download it from home. If you don't know how, then packaging is here to stay.
  • by SlamMan ( 221834 ) <> on Thursday March 13, 2003 @02:48PM (#5505059)
    Not to mention plenty of software comes on 2 or 3 cds.
  • by jaoswald ( 63789 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @02:54PM (#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.
  • by macwomansince1986 ( 658905 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @03:25PM (#5505459)
    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 reduction of paper manuals. I need to troubleshoot from a *book while I'm having trouble with the Mac machine or screen itself. They can't fool me. Now I have to do more of the work myself (e.g. print out a manual). It costs me more for paper & ink than their mass production, and costs me more in time, too. I'm trying to be patient with the industry. Go, Jef Raskin!
  • Re:One Better (Score:2, Insightful)

    by repetty ( 260322 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @03:47PM (#5505666) Homepage
    "Why bother with the part where you walk into CompUSA?"

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


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