Trial Versions

10/23/2004 6:55:36 AM

Trial Versions

While having a trial period (or using restrictions) helps increase registrations of commercial software, it can also inhibit registrations as my following experience indicates.

Sometime last year, I was evaluating RSS readers, and I came across FeedDemon written by Nick Bradbury. I installed the 30-day trial version and later uninstalled it, since some other free ones had the features that I was looking for.

A few months ago, I attempted to evaluate the product a second time; unfortunately, the product refuses to operate when installed a second time, because the trial period expired.

Now, someone, like myself, who is evaluating a commercial package a second time, is probably seriously considering buying it. The first installation was more like an advertisement, at a time when I really wasn't ready to commit and buy an RSS reader.

Now that a good hour of my day is spent reading RSS feeds and with my initial, brief 10-minute exposure to FeedDemon last year, I was ready to take a second look. But, I simply am not going to buy a trial version without evaluating it and seeing if it fits seemlessly into my daily routine. I've purchased too many products in my life, that I haven't ever used.  Perhaps, I can pull a Virtual PC window and reinstall FeedDemon, but the feeling that I have to jump through hoops does not help instill any trust in the software or its author (whose blog I happen to read).

That first installation of the trial version was essentially an advertisement for me. Perhaps many users implicitly indicated a willingness to buy just by downloading it, but there are some who were just interested in learning more about the product. They may just be novice users, who are simply learning about RSS browsing software and have not yet established a regular routine of browsing RSS feeds.

By denying the customer a second chance to evaluate the software when they are likely ready to buy, I bet FeedDemon has lost a number of customers.

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My name is Wesner Moise. I am a software entrepreneur developing revolutionary AI desktop applications. I worked as a software engineer in Microsoft Excel group for six years during the 1990s. I worked on PivotTables and wrote the most lines of code in Excel 97-- about 10 times the median developer. I have a Harvard BA in applied math/computer science and a UCLA MBA in technology entrepreneurship. I am a member of the Triple Nine Society, a 99.9 percentile high-IQ society.

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