The framework for supporting paid applications in the Ubuntu Software Centre will almost certainly be in place for Ubuntu 10.10 – but what could users expect to see on sale?
With the advent of mobile ‘app stores’ users are fast becoming accustomed to paying a small amount of money for a decent single-purpose application, be them for social networking, reading RSS feeds or playing pong.
The popularity of mobile applications has been fuelled, in part, by the price point and the general quality of the applications of offer. Both are related: The application is cheaper to sell because it doesn’t require overly complex or laborious developing. In turn the application, because it’s not trying to me a jack of all trades and master of none, fulfils its own criterion superbly.
We’ve already seen projects concerned with making development of applications on Ubuntu much easier for developers – such as ‘Quickly’ ,a project aimed at ensuring development of Linux applications is simple, easy and fun.
Only time will tell whether developers see a potential here…
Another stock type that may start filling up the Ubuntu Software Centres’ shelves are games.
Everyone loves a game and as whilst there are some utterly brilliant open-source games available there are plenty more scattered around going unnoticed.
By optioning the ability to bring so many great Linux friendly games in one central place developers will be able to see bigger sales and users will see greater choice.
Notable Linux friendly paid-games: World of Goo, Unreal Tournament, Defcon
Codecs & Multimedia software
Given Fluendo media playback codecs and the Power DVD playback software can already be purchased from the Canonical store it’s no stretch to imagine that these may turn up in the Software Centre for easy purchase.
Commercial Linux Software
Although Linux users are used to getting all the software needs fulfilled by free software there is a healthy market in commercial desktop-user Linux software. Many readers will have already heard of a few – VMWare and ‘CrossOver Linux’ – a wine solution that aims to ‘seamlessly integrate Windows applications on Linux’ are quite well known but there hundreds more out there sitting almost unheard of.
Notable other Commercial Desktop applications for Linux: Pixel, Bibble, Nero,
Then there are the megabucks applications; applications that aren’t intended for your casual desktop users and probably won’t end up on sale in the Software Store (thankfully). From super-professional video editors, audio editors and graphics applications to proprietary administration and accounting software – all are useful in large companies but have prices that would scare Joe Nu-user off for good!
This leads us on to…
Applications on sale in the store will need to be priced affordably and realistic. Companies must not think that just because Ubuntu is a niche OS that prices can be significantly higher than Window counterparts – this would be highly counterproductive and would either drive people back to Windows to benefit from affordable prices or, most likely, blind them to commercial applications as whole.
The other question when it comes to proprietary software is the issue of validation codes, serial numbers and licenses; unlike Windows or OS X Ubuntu has a fairly routine upgrade every 6 months so when an application is purchased what is the life of that activation and how many installs can be made using any code or activation number? What if things go wrong? These are all considerations and concerns that should start to eek out over the coming few months.
Paid apps = good news for all
As it currently exists there is no easy discoverable way for commercial applications to market themselves to Linux users. The Ubuntu Software Centre will certainly help to level the playing field but before you fear that the days of free software will soon be behind us there is one massive upside to this: paid applications will need to prove they’re worth the outlay. That means they need to run well and not just be badly implemented Wine ports. For free software this move will instigate a competitive drive to ensure that free FOSS applications are every-bit as capable as paid alternatives.
I can’t wait for October 10th to see what range of paid software Ubuntu 10.10 launches with…