Well I completely understand where the companies point of view is coming from and hopefully, google, verizon or motorola will get this and release it to us in an update or perhaps a pay app update or something.
But people seem to be having a decent enough time using this beta software as it is right now. I see no reason why it couldn't be released as a small fee app that says no support other than say forums. For full support you pay the 29.99 or whatever you want to charge for the app when you do have the resources in place. just keep out fancy features from the cheaper app store version.
One way or the other users pretty much get what they want. You know someone will pirate it so wise money would be to make it available on the app store in perhaps a slightly light version for a small fee.
This is probably a TL;DR rant for most people but it's my take.
I think it's true that it will be in the app store eventually but I think it has more to do with the maturity of the product than the building of the support infrastructure, as the Company is claiming, at least in the case of Android. Positioning themselves as an OEM seller does allow Swype to develop specifically for one device or platform but it also ensures a certain level of related revenue to recoup developmental costs, e.g. a $6 million dollar contract with Samsung rather than hoping for $6 million in direct sales on Android Market. You’d be surprised at how many people own these phones and barely use the Market, or wouldn’t think to purchase a paid app.
It also creates a situation where carrier and manufacturer marketing dollars are spent in part on promotion of Swype as a premium feature and helps give Swype a huge leg up on the inevitable immitations or knock-offs. The vast majority of consumers, even smartphone buyers are very much more ignorant of this technology than the people on these forums. Carriers and manufacturers have the marketing muscle and the incentive to reach the vast majority directly. In order to preserve the value Swype provides to Samsung/Sprint, or whoever, they cannot sell direct to consumer at this point.
Right now even with the fragmented versions of the OS, manufacturers are finding themselves in the same place that PC manufacturers were in the earlier days before companies like Dell had built real brand equity, because it's really a similar situation. How does Motorola differentiate their Android devices from HTC or LG or Samsung, etc? Now that AT&T is entering the Android market, there will be options across all major carriers. You can build a phone with different hardware specs but most of the other guys have access to the same suppliers. At that point you really can't build in much profit because of the subsidized pricing model. Your negotiations on selling price are with the carriers rather than the consumers, and they have a tremendous amount of bargaining power. The key for device manufacturers is to create a brand preference among the end user or a belief on the carriers' parts that their device has features consumers will demand over competing devices running basically the same software and with much the same hardware capability in order to force the carriers to pay a premium for the devices.
One solution has been with custom UIs like Sense and Motoblur. Along those same lines Swype will sell their product to manufacturers as a feature to improve the attractiveness of that particular device which is really running a commodity OS. And since you're talking about adding a software feature rather than a hardware feature you don't have the direct variable cost relationship that you incur by adding on hardware. You also add on something that will be upgradeable over the one or two years you expect the customer to keep the device. If the strategy works, more and more manufacturers will adopt Swype. Once that has happened, or if it turns out not to help sales of the hardware, Swype will release the software for purchase on the Market. My guess is that either possibility will be at least a year or two in the future.
Bizzygeek. That was a well-written and thought-out response. I'm impressed. If you were my student, you'd get an "A".
However, I still buy the Swype rationale. Six mil is a pocketfull of dough. I'm not privy to how many Android phones are out there, but I'm guessing that there aren't enough of them to warrant a wholesale rollout of the Swype platform at even ten or twenty bucks a hit. As you so accurately put it, there are very few Android users who would even CONSIDER paying for an APP. I know I have, but I'm the exception, not the rule.
So, like they did with T9, which has six BILLION users, I'm guessing they're going after THAT market profile rather than end-users. For sure, there are a dozen knock-offs of T9 but these guys persevered and dominated the market with their mature, transportable, and affordable product. They made tens of millions of dollars and are looking to replicate that strategy with Swype.
I'm just a business prof, so I'm not on the inside of their strategic meetings. But they've been developing this for more than a year, and I'll just bet they are into this for the LONG HAUL rather than the quick buck.
Thanks for your insight. You're a bright guy.
Recovering Storm Abuser
Unorthodox Business Professor
Thanks for the complements Prof! Incidentally my grades in B School were pretty good .
I really respect your reasoning. All I'm saying is that if it comes to a point that the device manufacturers don't see value in paying extra consideration for contractual provisions that prevent Swype from selling on Android market, I think Swype will make the leap in-spite of the incremental development and support costs involved.
And if they weren't bound by such considerations now or the contemplation of those considerations in the near future I think they'd be investigating opening up that channel sooner rather than later.
Eventually I think that the technology will be sufficiently promoted to create some real traction in the Market. I also think that Android is uniquely built to support these types of 'after-market' text inputs whereas T9 really had to be built into the dumbphones. They just weren't designed for those types of modifications.
And the majority of the up-front costs will have already been borne by the OEM contracts when the product reaches that stage of its lifecycle where they have to consider retail to achieve further market penetration and growth.
You make my brain hurt! I teach fifteen hours of business classes every week and bet that many of my students would love to read your rationale instead of my textbook.
Aside from academic defense of Swype's business strategy, I admire their truly revolutionary (not evolutionary) technology. I wish I had their creative mindset and the ability to apply that creativity to the marketplace.
Instead, I'll just teach business. It's a great life and the best job I've ever had. (Trained 100,000 managers in ten nations with Ken Blanchard's One Minute Manger and Situational Leadership II since the 80's).
Recovering Storm Abuser
Unorthodox Business Professor