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Ask Slashdot: Should Commercial Software Prices Be Pegged To a Country's GDP? 290

Here's a bright idea from dryriver Why don't software makers look at the average income level in a given country -- per capita GDP for example -- and adjust their software prices in these countries accordingly? Most software makers in the U.S. and EU currently insist on charging the full U.S. or EU price in much poorer countries. "Rampant piracy" and "low sales" is often the result in these countries. Why not change this by charging lower software prices in less wealthy countries?
This presupposes the continuing existence of closed-source software businesses -- but is there a way to make that pricing more fair? Leave your best suggestions in the comments. should commercial software prices be pegged to a country's GDP?
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Ask Slashdot: Should Commercial Software Prices Be Pegged To a Country's GDP?

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  • Subject (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 22, 2017 @08:09PM (#53717943)

    Because of the simple fact that doing this will move the problem. Instead of having piracy in those "poor" countries, you will now have resellers taking advantage of the low price and making a profit in the "rich" country.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Dear Dryriver,

      You present a most sensible idea and I'm sure there are other alternatives along the same basic idea -- which any human with a heart could devise if she/he gives the problem minimal consideration.

      I commend you for seeing the problem from the right angle; notice, though, that many will think about the problem from the wrong P.O.V. -- e.g. like the AC above. And that's why nobody did ever come up with an idea to solve the piracy conundrum and still make possible for the poor guys to be honest.:

    • That concern can be addressed by a simple term in the license about country of primary use or country where user lives etc. And if you're going to not follow the license agreement anyway, the price isn't going to stop you from going unlicensed
    • by jonwil ( 467024 )

      The software developers can use their existing online activation and other copy protection measures to enforce region locks.

      Anyone who works around it and defeats the region lock would probably just pirate anyway.

      • Yay! More of our beloved DRM!

      • So I can't buy something while on holiday in the US, and install on my PC at home in Australia? What if I buy something and move countries? What version do I buy if I live in Australia, travel to the US (and need to use the software there) and take a contract in the Ukraine? Region locks suck, may not be legally enforceable in some countries such as Australia - ACCC Copyright fact sheet used to say this about DVDs, emphasis mine:

        An access control TPM specifically excludes TPMs which control geographic marke

        • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

          If closed source proprietary software is too expensive, privacy invasive, badly supported, unreliable or insecure and it's use represent an unsound economic burden on a country, simply use and work on the free open source version of it. Not only will you save money but you will also develop computer sciences in your own country, so double plus benefit. It's the old give a man a fish or in this case selling it to them versus teaching them how to fish.

    • by xlsior ( 524145 )
      One way around that without rigid DRM is have several different language versions with different pricing. People in the US typically wouldn't buy the Greek version even though it may be cheaper than English. (of course the English version would have global appeal, so that would preclude a low-cost English language version)
    • because.

      1) they are doing it(I bought doom 10 euros cheaper than in europe. chinese blurays are all the rage in asia. some of them legit).

      2) the price of producing software is not really dependent on how much money the buyer of the software has.

      3) are you really so fucking daft that you want to make it illegal to gray import software? seriously? you want a full on trade war or what?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Why yes.... my multinational corporation will be happy to purchase 300000 user licenses from our 1 person office in your favorite poor country.

  • Already like that (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rmdingler ( 1955220 ) on Sunday January 22, 2017 @08:11PM (#53717959) Journal
    The reason folks from the US shop in Mexico for prescription drugs and animal vaccines is because this phenomenon already exists.
    • It seems that Apple is already doing this, as well. Apple recently raised the prices in the UK by 25%, because of the Brexit.

      So this is good news for the British Empire, as their GDP must have grown by 25% since the Brexit!

      Economics pundits claim this is the result of the UK rejecting the EU mandated breakfast, consisting of a stale croissant and a thimble full of muddy coffee. The Full English Brexit now consists of baked beans and tea. Whitehall minstrels are planning for extensions including a slap-

      • This is a different issue. That price change is due to the GBPUSD exchange rate.

      • It seems that Apple is already doing this, as well. Apple recently raised the prices in the UK by 25%, because of the Brexit.

        Looks like you are either stupid or a liar. The reason isn't Brexit. The reason is the awful exchange rate, which meant that for six months I as a developer had 20% less in my pocket if someone bought my app on the UK store, compared to someone buying it on the US store. This has changed now, so I will have quite exactly the same amount of money in my pocket, whether the customer is in the US or the UK.

        • by jabuzz ( 182671 )

          And the awful exchange rate is directly caused by the vote in the referendum to leave the EU dipshit.

  • by HornWumpus ( 783565 ) on Sunday January 22, 2017 @08:12PM (#53717975)

    Back in the day, I could get grey market Novell packages for less than the local Netmare distributor's wholesale price.

    The world is a global market. You can get a genuine Chinese Fluke DMM for the price of a cheapy. They are blowing their peckers off to serve a market that mostly ignores brands in any case.

  • Microsoft does (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Windows pricing is very different in China, for example (rampant piracy).

  • by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Sunday January 22, 2017 @08:14PM (#53717991) Homepage

    What's to stop people from going to Venezuela and buying 10 copies of Final Cut Pro and bringing it back to the US? Unless you are suggesting that they start region locking software, controlling which country you can use software in depending on where you bought it.

    • What's to stop people from going to Venezuela and buying 10 copies of Final Cut Pro and bringing it back to the US?

      The fact that it's only sold in the App store now?

      Beside that point, too much of this reselling will eventually raise the GDP of that country - solving the problem.

      • The fact that it's only sold in the App store now?

        In which case you just connect to the app store for that country from wherever you are - I have accessed the Canadian store from Europe and the US without a problem in the past. If they eventually block that then you go through proxy and if they try to stop those they just end up playing whack-a-mole. Getting the money to the right store would be the hard part but if someone makes it worth their while I'm sure there will be resellers shipping iTunes gift cards to wherever the software costs significantly m

    • by fermion ( 181285 )
      This would require massive amounts of additional DRM to insure the software was running in the correct region. Think of DVD players, and the reason I stopped buying DVDs.

      For software this would be catastrophic. For anyone who travels software that works on one country and not another will be useless.

    • This is the problem. I've seen people on /. complain about the price of textbooks and how they could buy them much cheaper in Asia for example.

      I've got 2 copies of K&R's The C Programming Language. One of them is the usual paperback most of us probably have somewhere on our bookshelves and the other is....Chinese I guess. I mean it's in English just like the other, but it's a hard-cover edition and the first few pages have Chinese characters on them. (It's actually a little red book - also little re

  • Pricing of goods (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 22, 2017 @08:15PM (#53718001)

    What is wrong with you? Those who produce can ask what they like for what they produce. If it isn't worth it people won't buy. Whether it is worth it or not, there will always be those that will steal what is produced. 'Fair' is where you go to sell your pig, not the means by which you set the price.

    • 'Fair' is where you go to sell your pig, not the means by which you set the price.

      That's only partly true. If your pricing is extremely unfair and what you produce is essential to people then governments can get involved and laws get changed to cut you profits, especially if you rely on those same laws, such as copyright and patents, to create artificial monopolies. This is happening with the pharmaceutical industry.

      In the past Canada has threatened the patent protections of some firms and more recently the US seems to be finally waking up to the crap that these companies are pulling

      • I don't really understand your point. Is it that govts can intervene and tell you to sell at a different price? Well, sure. We have all kinds of examples of govt all along a spectrum of interventionalism in markets. Parent was mostly saying that's a load of horseshit and you have every right to sell the fruits of your labor for whatever you want. Your reply really isn't s counter to that, if I'm understanding it correctly.

        The patent issue is a tough one and I'm not saying it is set up correctly. But the pur

        • I don't really understand your point. Is it that govts can intervene and tell you to sell at a different price?

          The OP was arguing that you can charge what you like for your product regardless of whether the price is fair or not: as long as people are willing to pay it you can charge it. My point is that you do have to factor "fair" into your pricing at some level. If you completely ignore it then you will annoy enough people that governments will eventually act, especially if your profits rely on an artificial monopoly created by those governments' laws.

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Sunday January 22, 2017 @08:16PM (#53718005) Journal
    If you allow lower prices for India and China, what's to stop companies from buying the software in those countries and use it in USA? These companies use all the tax loopholes to move their profits to overseas subsidiaries. They know their customers will create subsidiaries in India and turn around and buy services from the subsidiary and use it in USA. The snakes know the legs of snakes, as the old Tamil proverb goes.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      If you allow lower prices for India and China, what's to stop companies from buying the software in those countries and use it in USA?

      Because it would be illegal, duh!
      Problems solved, once and for all.

      captcha: harping

    • This is basically what has been happening for years with "international editions" of university textbooks.
  • Ummm, No (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JWW ( 79176 ) on Sunday January 22, 2017 @08:24PM (#53718039)

    They should always use Open Source and just follow the GPL.... ;-)

  • by El Cubano ( 631386 ) on Sunday January 22, 2017 @08:25PM (#53718041)

    Why don't software makers look at the average income level in a given country -- per capita GDP for example -- and adjust their software prices in these countries accordingly? Most software makers in the U.S. and EU currently insist on charging the full U.S. or EU price in much poorer countries. "Rampant piracy" and "low sales" is often the result in these countries. Why not change this by charging lower software prices in less wealthy countries?

    Because if you want to make cheap goods and flood my market indiscriminately and then call me a protectionist and accuse me of impeding free trade for creating a level playing field, then I should be allowed to freely (as in, I am free to do as I please) sell my software at whatever price I like in your country. That is, if I can't have a level playing field, then neither should you. After all, it's only fair.

    • by djinn6 ( 1868030 )

      I should be allowed to freely sell my software at whatever price I like in your country.

      I think you missed the part where people in those countries simply pirate your software.

  • by Zitchas ( 713512 ) on Sunday January 22, 2017 @08:26PM (#53718051) Journal

    There isn't really a good solution to this.

    If everyone has the same price, then people in poor countries are likely to pirate.

    If prices are adjusted so that it is expensive in rich countries and cheap in poor countries, then everyone is going to buy copies in the poor country, one way or another (either via resellers, establishing subsidiaries there, etc)

    And if one region locks the software, then that makes people unhappy because they bought the product and want to be able to use it world wide. And it is hard to geolock computers, anyway.

    I think just one price and have it constant everywhere is the best option. At least then you don't end up with situations like having everything super expensive in Australia just because.

    If they dropped the prices in one poor country, everyone else will complain about "if you can afford to sell if for X in country Y, you must be ripping us off selling it for Z here."

    Probably the best strategy is just to have one constant price, let the people in the poor countries pirate, and establish some kind of "pirate redemption" system targeting those areas to get people to spend some small amount to "upgrade" to a legit version. Then set that amount to the reduced amount one would have charged in the poor country in the first place.

    • no good solution for this article's problem? free and open source software!

      • by tepples ( 727027 )

        Unless you're Red Hat and can sell support contracts, or unless you're Google and you can use it to prop up your ad platform and app store, where's the money in developing free software? Case in point: What's the "free and open source" counterpart to, say, Animal Crossing or Smash Bros.?

    • by guruevi ( 827432 )

      Or give away the software for free and sell support regionally if you want fairness that's the best way, your cost won't affect local economies as heavily and users will be able to afford training on your product for free so the software will be self-marketing.

      Obviously you need to then compete on the quality of your software instead of lock-in and inertia.

      • So basically, fuck small, competent developers who provide products that don't require much if any support services?
    • My solution was to price my service by currency.  So if a US customer really wants to get a cheaper price, they can buy it in EUR.  Of course then they'll have to explain to management why their 'quote' changes from week to week because of exchange rates.
    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      There isn't really a good solution to this. If everyone has the same price, then people in poor countries are likely to pirate.

      And...? People who can't afford a Rolex are more likely to steal a Rolex too, is that a problem you should solve by adjusting the price? The flip side of "lowering prices for poor people" is "gouging wealthy people for being rich". We generally hate companies trying to size up our wallet to see just much they can fleece us for. Isn't that what we'd be asking companies to do? I want to be able to go on Amazon or eBay and get the best product to the best price anyone will offer. That's how capitalism, competi

    • There isn't really a good solution to this.

      Yes there is. It's staring everyone in the face but they don't want to acknowledge it because it amounts to self-sacrifice and tough love. The solution is to help the third world country modernize so their GDP per capita increases until it's roughly on par with developed nations. Then they will be able to afford the software. That's what we were doing with globalization (shifting some developed world jobs to third world countries). But enough people in develo

  • Why limit it to a country. Why not states? Or counties? Cities? In California alone we have many cities well over $100,000/year and others well under $10,000. Which arbitrary geopolitical line do you chose?

    More germane to those of us in the US is why not limit the price that can be charged for drugs to the maximum charged anywhere else in the world. If it's profitable there, it can be profitable here.

    Bottom line is that it is the legal responsibility of corporations to put their shareholders' interests firs

    • by j-beda ( 85386 )

      More germane to those of us in the US is why not limit the price that can be charged for drugs to the maximum charged anywhere else in the world. If it's profitable there, it can be profitable here.

      It is at least mathematically possible to have different prices everywhere, and have the loss of any market make the whole thing unprofitable. From the global point of view, the company's profit is the different between TOTAL sales and TOTAL costs. If manufacturing costs are small relative to the total costs (which include research, development, advertising, and executive salaries and the like), then it is possible that you need silly high prices in some markets and comically low prices is other markets and

  • If you don't price your product based on GDP then you are not a true communist or socialist.
  • What part of "Commercial" does the dumbass who posted this not understand?
  • by 50000BTU_barbecue ( 588132 ) on Sunday January 22, 2017 @08:45PM (#53718137) Journal

    How about pegging it to my salary? When I'm unemployed I'll buy the biggest IC design CAD package I can!

  • by Crashmarik ( 635988 ) on Sunday January 22, 2017 @08:53PM (#53718163)

    Even Lenin abandoned it for the New Economic Policy/plan
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

    When Lenin thinks your idea is too communist, it's probably a bad idea.

  • It's more profitable to charge a few people a large amount instead of charging a few more people a smaller amount.
    If they cut the price to one tenth the price then they have to sell ten times as much just to break even.

  • by mjensen ( 118105 ) on Sunday January 22, 2017 @09:00PM (#53718199) Journal

    US sells software at $200 because if GDP, but it is $30 in Latveria. People will go to Latveria, buy all the copies and ship to USA to resell for a $150 profit each.

  • Small countries with low appearing GDP, may have a much higher PCDP/GDP Per Capita. So wealthy citizens get an underserved discount. Multinational companies might opt to buy their software in the country it costs the least in. Large corporations having a lower software cost would encourage outsourcing jobs from higher GDP countries.

    This isn't the way to level the playing field, this would be a means to level the higher GDP countries, by encouraging outsourcing and encouraging domestic wealth transfer to l
  • In my company we have such an approach for specific areas:
    - Our training prices are linked to the GDP, in a few levels. In the lowest band countries this can be 40% of the full price. We do need enough participants however to cover the effort of coming over. Our training is an enabler for the software, it is mainly cost recovery.
    - For specific software and services there can be special country promotions to boost adoption also in lower GDP countries. We don't do that explicitely for everything though.
    • I should have added, these are not consumer or office level softwares that could be simply bought abroad and brought back.
  • by SEE ( 7681 ) on Sunday January 22, 2017 @09:15PM (#53718269) Homepage

    An approximation of this was done by many publishers with textbooks. The result was importation of the cheaper overseas editions of textbooks into the US. And the US Supreme Court ruled [arstechnica.com] that the First Sale Doctrine covers imported copyrighted works.

  • Do you really want a gaming company to sell its games to an oligarch in Russia at roughly 3.7 times less the price of what they would cost in the US? Besides, it's not like a game is a vital piece of software to own. And in poorer countries, it's not like everyone owns a computer fast enough to run the latest game, or owns a computer at all.

    And where it comes to non-gaming software, there are other ways a company can make sure its software goes to people who can afford it. It can create student licenses, la

  • Bad Idea (Score:4, Insightful)

    by blindseer ( 891256 ) <blindseer.earthlink@net> on Sunday January 22, 2017 @09:27PM (#53718309)

    If this is a government imposed price control then not only is this a bad idea but one that has lead to the destruction of entire nations and killed many. Price controls enforced by the government do not allow the market to adjust pricing to meet supply and demand. Without proper market pricing we get hoarding, black markets, etc. Price controls is socialism. In socialism people wait in lines for bread, in capitalism bread is lined up waiting for people.

    If a company chooses to control prices based on local markets then expect much of the same. If software is cheap in some nation where people don't make much money then expect a black market to pop up to buy low locally and then sell high somewhere else. Software makers can try to enforce this GDP based pricing with location enforcement of some kind but that's not too difficult to fake for the properly motivated.

    Didn't textbook publishers already try this? They'd sell textbooks in other English speaking nations for cheaper than in the USA in order to compete better and/or comply with socialistic price controls on books. They tried putting different covers on those books but that didn't stop people in the USA from buying them, the content was still the same. Efforts to make the content different enough to matter costs money, negating any profit motive in selling the same books at different prices.

    I cannot fault people for wanting to make a profit on their products. What they seem to fail to understand is that the world has gotten a lot smaller. I've gone to online retailers and orders products from Taiwan and Australia before. They arrived in my mailbox a week later. If I ordered from a domestic seller I'd sometimes get it overnight, and that has some value to me. If the price difference is large enough I'll wait that week if I can.

    When talking about bread, textbooks, and so on this is a physical product. Software is not a physical product, the media might be but when is the last time you saw actual media in a software box? When was the last time you actually bought a "box" of software?

    Just a bad idea. If actually implemented anywhere I'd expect it to die quickly.

  • Offshoring (Score:4, Informative)

    by craXORjack ( 726120 ) on Sunday January 22, 2017 @09:51PM (#53718389)
    Yes, if this idea were implemented, it would just make it even more economical to cut tech jobs in the first world countries and send that work to the third world where both labor and now licenses for software tools would be much cheaper.
  • Make poor nations pay US$ 200 or 2000, buy a dongle, pay per seat or core, or rent per month.
    Poor nations then have the option not to enforce software and copyright laws.
    Don't peg anything to GDP. Just keep offering US brands at US$100 or 1000 or some other fee.
    Digital enforcement is expensive in every nation. Once a nation is very low cost with exchange rates, whats keeping users globally from buying in that nation?
    Per nation price enfacement with activation and per nation ip tracking per account?
  • by mattwarden ( 699984 ) on Sunday January 22, 2017 @09:56PM (#53718411)

    > This presupposes the continuing existence of closed-source software businesses

    Slashdot: declaring the imminent doom of proprietary software for 20 years

  • Should extremely targeted software be priced according to the broadest possible metric?

    All of this should essentially be up to the software developer, to price things according to who their customers are in various markets.

    Now what I have read about is some app developers out of a spirit of charity, making apps free in some extremely poor markets (like Africa and India) to help out the population there.

  • From the perspective of the business that makes and sells the software, the best option is leasing. And to some degree this already goes on. This requires an always on connection, but it lets you expand into other markets at discounts and much lower cost entry points (as long as it is still profitable, which for software, once it is created, sale of said software is essentially 100% profit) without having to worry about profiteers taking the discounts that you offer to some and spreading them back to your

  • GDP isn't the right metric. If we used GDP the price would still be too high in developing countries. The correct metric is GDP per capita, or purchasing power parity.

    Problem is you would need to region lock the software then through yet more DRM.

  • It seems to me you should be looking at the commercial viability of particular markets and not the dismal per capita income of the population as a whole. Licensing AutoCAD isn't going to break the budget of a $10 million dollar construction project in Central America.
  • by LoyalOpposition ( 168041 ) on Sunday January 22, 2017 @10:37PM (#53718593)

    is there a way to make that pricing more fair?

    Reduce copyright duration to two years and the "problem" will go away.

    ~Loyal

  • Because people would abuse the process like they do for every other product that tries to accommodate local pricing considerations, with software this is even easier to do, a nice VPN and suddenly you are paying Ethiopian prices instead of US or UK prices. Open internet means such ideas simply don't work as people will work around it to get the best price.
  • 1. Stop honoring BS US copyright law. Given enough countries, the whole copyright export concept will be in jeopardy.
    2. Go open-source. $0+(local time) is always pegged to GDP.

  • Per https://ello.co/shanen0/post/n... [ello.co] the software that increases productivity is investment and extremely poor societies can't afford those investments because essential production is already absorbing all the available resources. Or in other words, there's no sense in trying to squeeze blood from a turnip when he doesn't even have a turnip.

    Entertainment category software is different and there is no rationale I can see for discounting it. Right now I'm having trouble thinking of any software that would qu

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