Digging deep

Some companies have very strange ideas about how to sell software.

“So, you want the Frangle SDK?”


“Okay, that will be $1995 for the compiler.”

“That’s kind of steep, software-wise. I’m just sayin’.”

“Or the Platinum version for $13,995. That’s the one with the unlimited number of compiles.”


“And options. Let’s see, header files; generally $4.95 each, but stdio.h is $9.95, ctype.h is $3.99. STL includes are $49.95 each, but we have a special on std::vector and std::map for $29.95.”


“Of course, you’ll need to buy the ZX-990-TX2500C library kit (version 3.2.11), and most of our customers also find it necessary to get a linker, too (trust me, get the Pro version). The debug libraries are $395, or $595 if you also buy the release variants. Import symbols are usually around $995 per kernel, on a developer-seat basis, but we can usually get this down if you also agree to buy a profiler package.”


“Do you anticipate needing to debug anything? I can put you in touch with our lease department so we can arrange terms on our line of symbolic debuggers.”


“And are you interested in any of this when it comes out of Beta?”

Author: landon

My mom thinks I'm in high tech.

15 thoughts on “Digging deep”

  1. I know that feeling.. One of the imbedded compilers I use from time to time (IAR) is like $5000 for each micro family + $1000 a year for patches. All that money and they want to attach a hardware scab to my computer just to use their software… And I still have to phone in and wait a few business days to install it on a different computer.. And the editor looks like it came from 1997.

  2. Imagine a world where Linux and GCC didn’t really happen.
    One where the open source movement was more of a minor blip.

    I’d imagine you’d be seeing stories like the above be commonplace.

  3. That’s like the XBox 360 XNA stuff – pay $99 a year to create little games, or the Apple developer club where you pay $99 for the honour of having your app actually run on the real hardware.

  4. I know the feeling. So many things that would be so useful that are so out of line cost wise that it’s hard to justify.

    I understand being a niche market and all but you are likely missing out on some customers who might grow your market a bit. Depending on making so much from so few means you are ripe for failure with only a few of your customers moving on. Also means you may encourage someone making a version of GCC to replace your niche product because they can justify spending $7000 worth of time to save $14000 in purchase costs.

  5. I once bought an embedded Linux development kit from a company that was one of the big names at the time. When we tried to order a copy they sent over a five-page contract that tried to get us to sign away our rights under the GPL before they’d ship it. Their package was basically 95% GPL software and 5% their own proprietary stuff, and they basically tried to enforce a “per-seat” license on all of it.

    We basically wrote up an attachment explaining how we knew our rights, and they sold us the package. I proceeded to throw out every proprietary tool and use just the GPL stuff. Seems stupid, but it was actually easier to just pay $5000 than to waste a month trying to build a cross-compiler toolchain.

    A year later they came back trying to sell us a newer version for $12000, and we pretty much laughed in their faces.

  6. @Barry Kelly

    I don’t have any problem with niche developers being paid. But do they reaaaaaly have to come up with such byzantine pricing schemes?

  7. Ha. I guess that’s the only good thing about our current system — they give out the compiler for free (the IDE sucks though). Here’s our most recent interaction with the company itself though:

    company: Hey, we’d like to add your recent product to our store, would you be able to provide us some license keys so I could have my boss and teammates try it out?

    us: Sure, have a couple dozen, here they are. By the way, we don’t have a [cool new product we’d like to develop for]. Any chance of us getting one?

    company: Have you joined our (multi-hundred dollar) development network? They give away prizes sometimes.

    (the device itself only costs a few hundred bucks.)

  8. @James:
    I’m a bit confused about your comparison – the Apple Developer Network is more like the MSDN, both of which are free.
    XNA is a library for making games – and it runs on PCs, XBox 360, and Zune…

  9. @BlueRaja

    The Apple Developer Network is not free if you wish to create iPhone/iPod Touch applications. For that honour you must pay a one-off fee of $99.

    And while the XNA game studio is free to download, and also free for PC development, if you want your games to appear on the (newly released) Xbox 360 community games thing, that costs you $99 per year.

    Both of these are aimed at “indy” developers. I.e the type of person who 20 years ago would have been banging out shareware for their ZX Spectrum and C64, not proper development teams – because that’s what the real XBox Live Arcade is for.

  10. Sounds like you know IBM/Rational as well 🙂

    I also agree (a bit) with the guy above who commented that maybe this refers to IAR. I use IAR for a couple of embedded processors, and for good reason. The compiler is fast, easy to use, and the optimiser is astonishingly good. Last I checked it generates code about 30% smaller than GCC. And my products need that memory! (And the hardware scab can be sorted with a network license version. Just allocated about 3 weeks to get the sucker installed and working properly. GRRR.) I like their product. I don’t like their pricing.

  11. Sure thing Barry, indeed they do. Problem is, these sorts of things are viewed as commodity items nowadays. Actually, I’d change the suggestion to…If you think you can improve GNU tool to make it more palatable for everyone, go for it….

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *