Wednesday, January 18, 2006

What about Personal and Trial editions of Delphi 2006?

Marco brought up a sometimes hot topic on his blog about Delphi Trial and Personal editions.  His first line “Delphi has been out from some time,” is a little interesting to me... Hmmm... Delphi/BDS 2006 was RTM'd (that's Released To Manufacturing) only about two months ago, and it has only been GA (Generally Available... another sales/marketing term) for only about a month.  Update 1 for the C++Builder portions has been around for only a month as well.  In my mind it is a little too soon to be clamouring for these editions.  If you've watched this pattern in past releases it should be quite clear as to our normal time-line for releasing additional product editions in different types of packaging.  There are very good reasons why it is done this way.

Let's examine the trial edition first.  What is its purpose?  I think we'd all agree that it is a sales and marketing tool designed to allow prospective customers to “kick the tires” and to evaluate the product in order to decide whether or not they want to actually purchase it.  It is not there so that some group of nefarious individuals can hack at it to try and bypass all the “trial-ness” in order to get a non-time-limited version of the product.  Then there is the obvious next question, “If that is the case, why not have the trial available as early as possible?”  Now this is both a mix of my opinion and actual facts... first of all, for my Capitalistic/free market side it is simply a matter of economics.  If we released a trial edition too soon after a product release, we stand a very good chance that many of the undecided early adopters would delay their purchasing descisions under the guise of “evaluating the product.”  So instead of building up product demand in anticipation of the product release to the point that there are a lot of early orders ready to go on the RTM date, we risk a very soft start to the product release.  Nothing generates excitement and attention to a product quite like pent-up demand.

Another more pragmatic reason to delaying the release of a trial is to simply allow the real product to “bake“ out in customer's hands in order to guage its response.  This is also so that we can get a very wide range of product feedback which would drive our descisions about whether or not a product update is critically needed.  So from a sales/marketing perspective you always want to “put your best foot forward.“  One way to do that is to base your trial edition on some post-RTM product update.

Now what about the “Personal“ or sometimes referred to as “Standard“ editions?  These are the so-called economy/hobbiest editions.  Again, these are typically at a lower price-point or even sometimes free as part of book or magazine bundles.  So in a real sense they are treated very similar to a trial edition.  From a purely economic standpoint, it makes sense to delay or limit the availablility of such editions, at least early in a product release cycle.

Now I want to be perfectly crystal clear here.  We (Borland) do not deny nor ignore the benefits gained by giving our customers and potential customers more choices to purchase the product or for them to evaluate it.  Both of the above editions are extremely important to the overall success of Delphi/BDS during the product release cycle.  Of course I cannot make any kind of announcements as to when and if a trial or personal edition will be available.  These editions are not only products but are also sales/marketing tools that need to be carefully and methodically deployed at a time we feel they'll provide the most benefit and the least amount of detriment to the market.  I will say, however, that when and if we release trial and/or personal editions, most of you will be pleased with how things played out.  Just as BDS2006 is a very different product from previous releases, so too will be the marketing.  So keep watching during the coming months for some interesting things.

So if you've been waiting for us to release a trial edition and are “on the fence“ about purchasing or upgrading, I encourage to you go ahead buy today.  Borland has a 30-day return policy (this depends upon the region so please check with your local Borland rep for details), so you'd still be able to evaluate the product for up to 30-days.  Product reviews are beginning to come out and early results are extremely positive.  If you're a VCL Win32 Delphi or C++Builder developer and are still using Delphi 5,6, or 7 or C++Builder 5 or 6, this is definately the edition to buy.  For the C# and Delphi/.NET developers, you too will find many of the new features available to be well worth the upgrade as well.

Finally, on behalf of the BDS team I'd like to thank Marco for his long running support of Delphi and the Delphi community.  I can, without a doubt, say that he is highly admired and respected by the team. His feedback, ideas, and thoughts carry a lot of weight.