Realbasic Attempts Suicide

Greetings,

I’m writing to let you know about some important changes we are making to REALbasic.

On April 14th, we will introduce REALbasic 2009 Release 2. At that time, we will be reducing the price of REALbasic Professional Edition to $300, a 40% reduction from its current price of $500. We will also be reducing the renewal price from $250 to $150. That means when you renew in the future you will be saving 40%!

Wow. Sounds pretty good. Maybe a smart move in a recession, and perhaps they’ll gain more customers (moving up from the $100 “standard” version to the $300 “pro” version).

We have been talking to a lot of Personal Edition users, as well as people evaluating REALbasic, and we have been researching software pricing.  We have determined that $300 is a more appropriate price for REALbasic Professional Edition. It will likely mean that more people will purchase the Professional Edition which helps to grow the REALbasic community.

Another reason we are doing this is to make it easier to provide REALbasic editions for each of the three major types of users: hobbyists, part-time developers and full-time developers. The Personal Edition is designed for hobbyists and students, and the Professional Edition is for part-time developers. For full-time developers, we will be introducing REAL Studio.

REAL Studio, which will be introduced with REALbasic 2009 Release 2 on April 14th, will provide features that full-time developers need:
-A license key that can be installed on any number of computers or operating systems to make development and testing easier
-The Profiler for optimizing code performance*
-IDE Scripting for build automation*
-Remote Debugging*
-A REAL Server unlimited connections license
-Priority technical support
-New licenses will come with 12 months of updates, rather than 6 months

Wait a second. The asterisks mark features I already get now, all of which are pretty useful. (note that there are four, not three, items)

Three of these features were previously in the Professional Edition. Along with the price drop for the Professional Edition, we are moving these features to the Studio Edition. REAL Studio will be priced at $1495 with renewals priced at $749. However, we are offering all Professional Edition users a free upgrade to REAL Studio. And you can renew your license for up to two years at the current renewal rate of $250. But you must do this BEFORE you upgrade your license to REAL Studio.

So, basically, I can get a “free” upgrade to Studio if I want to continue getting remote debugging and profiling (among other things) which I already paid for — but when my subscription comes up for renewal it will be tripled in cost, or I can watch my existing license be gutted and the worthwhile parts of it moved to “Studio”.

Well this seems like a strong incentive to abandon Realbasic as quickly as possible.

Post Script

Apparently there were howls of protest about Real removing remote debugging from Realbasic Professional, so it’s going back in. This leaves IDE automation and Profiling as features that existing Pro customers will lose if they do not take the “free” upgrade. (Why do I put “free” in quotation marks? Because you’ll end up being stuck paying 3x (or 5x) as much for future upgrades.)

  • Markus Winter

    Pretty one-sided blog. Not very useful, is it?

  • Tony,

    I’m just a REALbasic customer who will be renewing my Pro license for an additional year in the next couple weeks and happily upgrading to Studio. It’s not suicide. It’s redefining the product price points and making sure that people who make a living with REALbasic are paying enough for the privilege.

    They are not taking anything away from you. They are giving you a month to put up $500 to save $1000 over the next two years. If you are a serious professional developer, you’d see that as a bargain you can’t pass up. You’d see that REAL Software is a partner in your enterprise that needs to be healthy for you to be healthy.

    -Brad

  • This is a bit of a moot point now as Geoff just gave in to the pressure and includes remote debugging in Pro.

    I think your “fourth point” is wrong – New licenses only came with 6 months updates, it was renewals that gave you 12 months.

    The studio bundle intro is a very good deal – I just extended my recently upgraded license and upgraded so I get Studio until 2013 for a mere AUD600.

  • First of all, you’re assuming all I care about is remote debugging. I happen to like having the profiler too, and the possibility of scripting the IDE keeps me warm at night (at minimum it means I could work around RB’s idiotic build deficiencies should the need arise). As for the 6 months vs. 12 months thing — I assume you’re right. (It’s not really relevant to the value proposition for existing users anyway.)

    The studio intro bundle is only a good deal if you want the new features in studio. If not you get the “privilege” of paying your next renewal now, but at the old (higher) price, and then a hefty $750 after that. So you’re basically $100 out of pocket now and $600 per renewal beyond that. Um, good deal.

    Let’s suppose you were working on a cross-platform app right now and wanted to use RB Pro on three platforms for final debugging. You could buy three RB Pro licenses now, but come renewal time if you had no pressing need for the extra licenses you could forgo upgrading until or unless you needed them. Get Studio and you’re forced to pay the equivalent of three RB Pro license renewals (at the old price) or FIVE at the new price, even if you only really want to use RB on one box.

  • Andrew Barry

    Definitely seems like a move that was going to generate tension with the “pro” end of the market. Optimally they would have just created additional functionality for the new high end product, rather than cannibalizing the existing Pro product.

  • Brad,

    If you think the new Studio concept is compelling then getting a free upgrade to it and a chance to renew at the Pro price is a good deal. If you’re sticking with Pro you’re getting screwed: you’ve paid for features that are being removed. Personally, I think Studio — priced at 3x Pro — is a pretty lame deal. If I wanted Real SQL Server I would have bought it. If I needed Realbasic on Windows and Linux I would have bought them too (actually I own a RB Pro Windows license).

    What this is is an attempt to get folks to commit to paying 3x as much for upgrades some time in the future AND buy their next renewal now. Is Real software currently strapped for cash? If so paying for future updates now seems like a dubious deal.

  • Markus: it’s a blog!

  • Andrew: well the Studio product really doesn’t seem to offer much that’s new. Basically it’s bundling Real SQL Server, a cross-platform RB Pro (pre-Studio) license. So for three times the old RB Pro price you get a server license you probably don’t need (if you needed it, you’ve already paid for it) and the ability to install RB on the other two platforms (which, if you needed it, you’ve probably already paid for it).

    I guess part of the problem is that the differentiation between RB Standard and RB Pro used to be based principally on database access, which is kind of a joke now.

  • Andrew Barry

    Hurm.

    Ultimately Real can do what it likes and/or needs to do to keep alive/growing.

    As an individual you need to decide whether the new pricing strategy is worthwhile putting more or less (or no) money down. That’s the only real democracy in capitalism.

    I must admit that the upgrade conditions are a bit mercenary though.

  • I agree Real can do what they like — although I think that a case could be made that taking features OUT of RB Pro is pretty dubious for folks who’ve already paid with the understanding they’d have those features.

  • Maybe I’m just really old-school, but I don’t get the hostility. You can continue to use 2009r1 for as long as you like without renewing! Remote debugging, profiling, IDE scripts all work!

    A little off topic… I have a buddy who has a cool offline business that needs a competent web presence. He has a college kid who volunteers to build and maintain his site. But the kid is unreliable, and things never get posted on time. So he asked me what I would do about it. Duh. Pay somebody competent and make it worth their effort.

    The same applies to developers who depend on tools for their livelihood. In a later post, you’re annoyed that RS even has a subscription model! RS, in everything they do, tries to be a good tools partner for its professional customers. Mailing lists, forums, rapid release, public bug database, betas program, employee blogs. You’re upset now because your expectations are whack.

    Seriously Tony… If you haven’t heard Geoff say for a couple years that REALbasic is underpriced, you haven’t been paying attention. If putting up $500 in the next three weeks to save $1000 over the next two years is a problem, you’re pretty much a hobbyist. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but you present yourself as someone actually making a living developing software.

  • Brad,

    1) My name isn’t Tony.

    2) What does old-school have to do with anything? Realbasic sold me a Professional subscription and then reduced the price of that subscription (fine, it happens) and the content of that subscription (which ought to be illegal).

    Off-topic: in any event, I’m pretty old-school. I was the first user of Realbasic assuming you don’t count Andrew Barry, and I created realgurus.com, which for years was the highest traffic website for Realbasic users. My original Realbasic tutorial (for Realbasic 1 and 2) was pretty much the starting point for many early adopters. I was even in the About Box of RealBasic 2.x. And, oh, I was a technical referee of the first edition of Realbasic: The Definitive Guide.

    3) Hostility? Sarcasm perhaps. I do get hostile when people repeatedly call me “Tony”. If I wanted to be called Tony I’d type “Tony” in name fields. I do tend to get a bit annoyed when someone sells me a product and then tells me that they’re going to give me something else with fewer features instead.

    “Seriously”, Brad, if Geoff thinks RB is underpriced he should increase the price. He hasn’t done that. He has reduced the price and cut features, and then told people who paid for the original product “either deal with the fact I’ve screwed you or take a ‘free’ upgrade to studio and get even more massively reamed later”. This is an incredibly stupid thing to do.

    Lots of dev tools have three tiers: “standard” (i.e. crippled), “pro” (i.e. perfectly useful), and “enterprise” (i.e. add SVN and Perforce integration, say, and multiply price by 3-5 since the person who asks for it won’t be paying for it). It seems clear that Geoff wants to create a “Realbasic Enterprise” product, but rather than add actual functionality, he has stolen functionality from the pro tier that is probably NOT all that interesting to corporate developers.

  • It is my opinion that there were a number of things they could have said/announced to take the sting out of it and be proactive in managing customer expectations rather than being reactive. The Alpha and Beta group had the exact same reaction as the general community so it’s not like it should have been a big surprise to anyone at RS.

    In the long run I think it’s a good move. For a lot of developers (myself included) Studio will make sense and be a better deal. I have no doubt that the Studio users cost RS more in feature requests, bug fixes and general support time than any other group so I don’t have a problem with paying more. I don’t use much tech support now, but it’s nice to know that it’s there.

  • I think if Studio had been introduced in such a way that it was all upside, or if something were done to compensate developers choosing to remain at the “Pro” level, then that would have been fine. Frankly, Studio seems like a pretty lame proposition. The ability to install on other platforms is certainly useful, but they’re charging 3x as much as a single Pro license. And the server license is daft.

    What “Studio” ought to be is “Enterprise” and feature proper support for developers working in teams, such as support for version control.

    It’s obvious they’re thinking “Final Cut Studio” with their naming and pricing, but look at the value proposition of Final Cut Studio over Final Cut Express.