Time Expired Software!

Tim Cutts tjrc1 at mole.bio.cam.ac.uk
Mon Jan 13 12:30:43 EST 1997

In article <32DA5806.5E68 at gab.unt.edu>,
Chris Fields  <cfields at gab.unt.edu> wrote:

>Very true, except that in the field of molecular biology programs cost
>as much as a used car (just look at the price of DNASTAR and PC-GENE,
>both of which, in my opinion, are poor products for the price of
>admission).  I personally agree with you, but I don't think you quite
>understand the problem that some people in academia face (i.e. the
>graduate students who need the software but scrape by on financial aid
>and jobs on the side).  

You what?  I run the biocomputing for Cambridge University, so I am
well aware of the money situation.  Graduate Students shouldn't have
to buy this sort of software anyway.  Doesn't the lab buy the

>What I can't understand is the absolute gall it takes to gather a bunch
>of freeware and shareware, add a new and supposedly user-friendly face
>to it, then charge $3000 for it.  That in itself is thievery.

Not really.  They requently have to pay for their network access,
their salaries, their hardware, their compilers, their technical
support from software and hardware vendors.  Then they are selling
into a vertical market where the number of sales they will make is
vanishingly small compared to office software such as Word.

The $3000 price-tag sounds as though you are referring to GCG.  Bear
in mind that GCG, as a UNIX package, can then be used by thousands of
users.  My GCG installation is used by 1,500 people.  $2 per user per
year.  I reckon that is a tiny price to pay.  Consider if I had to
maintain all of those individual programs separately, and keep them
all up to date from their various freeware sources?  I just couldn't
do it, and the University would have to hire someone else to help me,
which would cost a hell of a lot more than $3000.

If you're insisting on a separate copy of the software on everyone's
desk, of course it's going to cost a fortune.  It's much more
cost-effective to buy a large UNIX box, and one copy of the software
to run on it.  There's no such thing as a GCG site licence any more;
after all, you only need to buy one copy for each computer it will run
on, not for each computer it will be accessed from.

>If somebody out there can justify the extreme costs of these programs,
>please let me know (email or this NG).

It's simple business.  If your sales volume is low (as it is with this
software) you have to make per-unit cost high, because your overheads
will be similar regardless of the sales volume you have.


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