Is it too late for Movable Type


SixApart annouced their changes to the pricing and licensing of Movable Type after the big fiasco last month from their original announcement.

The new pricing is not bad at all but I wonder if it's too little too late. MT is a pretty nice piece of software for what it does but there are about 50 alternatives to it, many of them free, some may even have better features. MT was succeeding in terms of market penetration it seemed at least because it was great and free for private use. While I don't find it wrong of SixApart to decide to start charging for it the disaster of their original 3.0 pricing scheme made pretty much every single MT user out there look at the alternatives. That single fact alone may make it already too late for SixApart to recover.

Why would I pay $99 when I can switch to WordPress for free for example. I suppose it's a bit like Linux vs Mac/Windows. Linux is free but that's not the whole story. Macs and Windows boxes have lots of feature that are still a little sketchy on Linux that give Macs and Windows value. But that doesn't seem to really be true of Movable Type. Many of it's competitors seem 100% just as good. Some even better.

The Gimp is a free image editing program but it doesn't even come close to being as good as Photoshop and so I continue to pay for Photoshop. When and if the Gimp ever does get as good, stable and easy to use I will stop buying Photoshop. Movable Type's competitors are already as good as Movable Type so there is little reason not to switch. I guess SixApart can only hope that through the revenue raised by their pricing scheme they can afford to pay for enough developers to stay ahead of the free competition.

I'm not so sure they can. Most web software is actually pretty easy to write. My own site probably took less than one month of total programmer time and if I was to re−write it it would probably take less than 1 week (and be written well the second time through 😛). This is in contrast to my real job, game development, where one title could take as much as 2 or 3 years and a team of 30 to 100 people. The point is, unless SixApart has some amazing new and expensive tech, any feature they add will be duplicated in days by the other free blog systems and so it seems like there really is no reason not to switch instead of paying.

I suppose you could pay for the support but I believe that's how the pricing use to be in the first place. Personally I think they should have stuck with that. Free for non−commerical use but no support unless you pay. It may not have been profitable for them, I don't know. But, once you start giving away something for free you can't expect people to start paying for it IMO if there are already free and good alternatives.

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