Monthly Archives: October 2008

Family packs

I rolled out “family pack” pricing for “Wii Transfer”: over the weekend. I had to make changes to my custom PayPal integration scripts to support it, and I also modified the product page to use a simplified checkout (no standalone store page). Pretty straightforward.

I was less sure about pricing. A quick survey of other Mac developers yielded results like these (normal price / family price — all of these are for 5 users):

“Radioshift”: $32 / $59

“Yojimbo”: $39 / $69

“Hazel”: $21.95 / $39.95

“iLife”: $79 / $99

“Bento”: $49 / $99

“TextExpander”: $29.95 / $44.95

“MoneyWell”: $39.99 / $69.99

Additionally, some companies don’t have a family pack, but offer discounts for multiple copies:

“Acorn”: $49.95 / 2+ (20% off)

“On The Job”: $24.95 / 2+ (20% off)

“BusySync”: $25 / 5+ (10% off)

“Transmit”: $29.95 / 10+ (10% off)

So 5 copies is the standard for family packs. My original idea was 3 copies for $29, so I threw that out. Five copies for only 50% more seemed way too cheap, especially since Wii Transfer is already the least expensive software of any company I found. True, this is “free” money — most customers don’t buy more than 1 copy anyway — but on the other hand they are getting 5 separate serial numbers. Unlike Apple’s iLife (which has no serial numbers), or Radioshift and BusySync (which allow a special serial number to be used on multiple computers), Wii Transfer’s URL bookmarking feature requires each copy of Wii Transfer to have a unique serial number to identify the computer.

I think customers buying a family pack are exceptionally honest. They are going out of their way to do the right thing. But at the same time, it needs to be a fair enough price that I’m not losing anything if a few customers decide to share their “extra” serial numbers with a friend.

In the end I settled on $39 for the 5-copy family pack, essentially double the normal price of $19. The Bento pricing model convinced me that it was doable, even if percentage wise it’s slightly higher than other products. I’ll be watching stats over the next month to see how well it works. “Decisions are temporary”: I’m not afraid to change the family price or drop it altogether if it doesn’t meet my expectations.

Slow-growing trees

We planted some trees in our front yard recently. They take decades to grow, and we are under no illusion that they’ll provide meaningful shade before our children have families of their own. It’s easy to say: “Why should I bother? It will take too long before we can see results.”

But it’s like anything — the sooner you start, the less time you have to wait until that thing is mature.

If you procrastinate forever, just because you won’t see results anytime soon, you’ll find yourself looking back 10 years later and wishing if only I had just planted that tree / started that new software project, it would have been done by now.

In other words, don’t let the weight of potential work stop you from doing the right thing.

Campaign Monitor

Last month, on the 7th episode of Core Intuition, we talked about promotion. In particular I had good things to say about Campaign Monitor, and the folks who built it heard the episode and wanted to ask a set of follow-up questions to use on their own blog. “That mini-interview with me”: about how I used the service is now online.

In closing out that blog post, Mathew Patterson of Freshview suggests a couple things I agree with, including sending a newsletter more frequently than once a year. In fact I would love to send another one soon, to link up a survey to get some more information about why customers are purchasing Wii Transfer.

Unfortunately my hands are tied with yearly. When I put together the Wii giveaway promotion, I specifically told users opting in that it would be about once a year. I did this to encourage people to sign up without wondering if they would be spammed all the time. And also, I doubted that I would have the time to send a newsletter much more often than every year. So it’s not ideal, but there it is.

Since then we’ve recorded 2 more shows. The latest “Core Intuition”: hits the lifting of the NDA, the iPhone Tech Talk Tour, and Apple’s stock price.

Favorite essays

The best essays are the ones that contain some truth or insight that doesn’t go out of style months or years later. As I return to regular blogging (12 posts in September compared to about the same number of posts between all of May through August), I sometimes stumble upon older posts that have held up pretty well.

Here are 10 of my favorites over the last 6 years with brief comments on why I like them. If you’ve only recently started reading my blog, maybe you’ll find one of these interesting.

“Understanding Comics”:, January 2003. Probably the first of several essays where I write about art and software. Since I wrote it, Scott McCloud has finished his third book on comics.

“Perfection”:, August 2005. Doing our best work, inspired by Tufte and the golden age at Disney.

“Set unreasonable deadlines”:, December 2005. Code more in less time, three years ago, but still very much inspired by 37signals. I like how this post mentions my favorite animation autobiography.

“Limitations in toys and software”:, January 2006. I connected LEGOs and toy utility with user interface design in this one.

“Smart software bloat”:, February 2006. In a general sense, how to add features without burdening the user interface. Discoverability in context.

“Mediocrity is the new application platform”:, March 2006. About web, native, and hybrid applications, and when to choose one or the other.

“Customer support”:, February 2007. Sparked by a post from Ryan Carson, I write about my own experience with Wii Transfer support.

“Bush veto”:, November 2007. I’m pretty sick of partisan politics right now, a month before the election. This post reminds me of the passion I had just a year ago.

“Fancy-pants productivity”:, March 2008. A little bit of a rant, reacting to the opinion that code must always be beautiful.

“Ollie Johnston”:, April 2008. Where I comment on the death of a master animator. I should re-read this one every year.

Passion and Paul Potts

The other night I was digging around in other people’s old blog posts, catching up on things I never read but should, and I found this gem on “Seth Godin’s blog”:


“Watch it on YouTube”: and then come back here.

Maybe the video and show is old news to everyone else, but I was stunned. A seemingly unremarkable man, by his own admission lacking confidence, the judges and audience clearly expecting the worst, expecting humiliation.

And then he is transformed. He nails it.

I consider myself reasonably competent, but not great, at what I do. My weakness is that I have my hands in too many unrelated projects to ever master one thing. The areas I am most passionate about receive a cruel pittance of attention. Not so with Paul Potts.

It’s inspiring to see someone who is just freakin’ good, rising above expectation out of a bland job to surprise and overwhelm everyone around him.

Oh, and the nice thing about discovering this video late? I can fast-forward to the finish. “Here’s the winning performance”: with some additional backstory.

Gruber on The Fear

I don’t link to Daring Fireball much anymore. Everyone who cares about the Mac and reads my blog, also likely reads his. I will link or write about obviously redundant topics that everyone else is also writing about only when I feel like I can add some kind of value. I felt that way with “my short NDA post”:, putting it in the context of customers.

But John Gruber’s latest, “The Fear”:, is just too good not to link to. Many developers and professional bloggers can write passionately about rejected iPhone apps, but no one connected that to the default dock and its significance in the original device introduction by Steve Jobs. Whether the theory is true, we may never know, but man is it a good read.

NDA and overnight optimism

Last week I blogged about “my experience with a late Amazon order”:, commenting that I was a happy customer again after they apologized. Even after being mistreated, customers will forgive everything if only the company does the right thing in the future. It’s the same way an angry customer will fire off a support email rant but then become an advocate for the company if the company responds quickly and honestly.

Thank you, Apple. “Lifting the NDA”: has turned the whole developer community into optimists overnight.