FrogBlog: Late April again

Subscriptions and more

Sunday, May 4, 2008 by Frogboy | Discussion: WinCustomize News

image There's so much going on that I have no life. Life at Stardock is changing so rapidly. It was just a couple years ago that Stardock was an $8M company.  This fiscal year ends on June 30th and it's looking like Stardock is going to break the $20M mark. If all goes well, we'll double that again next year once certain big projects get launched this Summer.

The skinning world I know and love continues to evolve. The "power user" market for skinning has pretty much peaked. That is, at this point, most Windows power users know about our stuff and have either decided they want it or don't. Revenue continues to grow but at a much lower rate. The real increases are coming from more casual users. That's one of the big reasons why Object Desktop 2008 was split between the standard edition and the Ultimate Edition. 

Let's talk about Object Desktop Ultimate for a sec.

One of the things that has been really slowing down things with Object Desktop is support. That, in turn, has made us less able to release some of the more cutting edge things sitting in our labs. You wouldn't believe some of the cool desktop enhancements that we have written but put on the shelf over the years because of some limitation in the program that would have caused too much support. I think the last thing we released that fit that description was IconX and we have regretted it ever since.  Whether it be skinnable command line shells, desktop "docks", new explorer views, mouse gesture based programs, or 3D virtual desktops, they're floating around in the lab somewhere. At one point, we had a compositor up and running on Windows XP (Microsoft hired him to work on - wait for it - the compositor in Vista). 

So with Object Desktop Ultimate, we are starting to look at being able to make some cooler stuff that might be termed experimental. That is, it might simply have some limitations with it that a consumer would not accept but power users would understand.  I almost wish we could require some sort of tech test before you could buy Object Desktop Ultimate so that we could eliminate the casual computer users who get lost in ObjectBar.

Loved in the gaming world, despised in the tech world

It's ironic that in the gaming world, Stardock is very popular. Whenever a new announcement is posted on the various game related websites, positive comments pour in.  By contrast, when one of our skinning programs is released, which tend to cost less than half as much as the games, we get tarred and feathered on the net - even on our own sites.

WinCustomize subscriptions about to get sweeter

The budget has been approved to start giving away quite a bit of content to WinCustomize subscribers. None of this 2 suites per year stuff but rather a fairly steady trickle of content. The stand-alone subscription price is gonna end up like $29.95 but there will be bundles with our various programs at a steep discount for WC subscriptions.

So basically what I think you'll start to see are skins and icon packages released onto WinCustomize first, then turned into MyColors themes. Not every MyColors theme will show up on WC but quite a few of them will. At first they'll be in their own section but eventually they'll be like Master skins in the gallery except called Subscriber skins that are free for download to subscribers. After a year, the subscriber skin will turn into a Master skin (to reward long-time subscribers).

Vampothika
Reply #1 Sunday, May 4, 2008 2:50 AM
very wikked...........  
HG_Eliminator
Reply #2 Sunday, May 4, 2008 3:04 AM
Sounds good to me
unhappycamper88
Reply #3 Sunday, May 4, 2008 5:08 AM
I think the oil companies are looking to double their profits again next year too.

8-20 million in a couple of years at Stardock...and prices going up all the time?
Less support?
Less ability to release new things, even at a much higher price?
Sounds good to me    I didn't really need the money anyways.

Let's start submitting those skins folks!   
HG_Eliminator
Reply #4 Sunday, May 4, 2008 5:35 AM
and prices going up all the time?



???? I cant remember the last time SD upped the price on stuff.

Less support?



Actually ive seen an increase in support. But as with any thing folks tend to get impatient to wait for a response. (some dont even wait 24 hours before trying other avenues)

Less able to release new things


again im stumped. unable to release new things? like Impulse? or revamping my colors? or cursorFX over the older cursorXP? Maybe its all the betas ive been running in to lately they arent releasing. oh wait , I have them.
 
Im confused to whats not being released or worked on.


ArileenDesign
Reply #5 Sunday, May 4, 2008 6:19 AM
I'm a bit lost there, unhappycamper88 are you kidding?....

Cause if not maybe you should look more closely the huge list of softwares SD released over the last fews years...

They work really hard to give us wonderful softwares easy to use and they always improve them, adding new features to make our computer life easier and funnier.
They not only give us new softs often but they keep improve old ones

This is also support

Talking about technical support (i mean when something is going wrong with a soft) i'm sorry but i truly think they are quick. And even faster when you give them all the informations they may need to help you to solve your problems (you is general here) I often seen someone write a post here and have an answer/solution in less than one hour.
Even on a week-end you can get an answer to your problems cause often some guys from SD come here or on IRC or on the others sites and take on their free time( yes all are not bot and some have family) to help people.

We can talk also about Sites improvement: ImpulseDriven.com (launched this year) Wincustomize.com (updated last year and forums this year) Stardock.com (updated this year) Joeuser.com (updated this year).....  all with news features, easier to use on day basis by every users...

LightStar
Reply #6 Sunday, May 4, 2008 7:46 AM
Great writeup Frogboy! Oh, ArileenDesign, I do no think unhappycamper88 was complaining, you might want to read his post a little closer.
zakai1369
Reply #7 Sunday, May 4, 2008 8:29 AM
WinCustomize subscriptions about to get sweeter

The budget has been approved to start giving away quite a bit of content to WinCustomize subscribers. None of this 2 suites per year stuff but rather a fairly steady trickle of content. The stand-alone subscription price is gonna end up like $29.95 but there will be bundles with our various programs at a steep discount for WC subscriptions.

So basically what I think you'll start to see are skins and icon packages released onto WinCustomize first, then turned into MyColors themes. Not every MyColors theme will show up on WC but quite a few of them will. At first they'll be in their own section but eventually they'll be like Master skins in the gallery except called Subscriber skins that are free for download to subscribers. After a year, the subscriber skin will turn into a Master skin (to reward long-time subscribers).
ShelbyGT_The_Car
Reply #8 Sunday, May 4, 2008 10:00 AM
I almost wish we could require some sort of tech test before you could buy Object Desktop Ultimate so that we could eliminate the casual computer users who get lost in ObjectBar.


That is very good idea "Brad"! I would love to take the test! Using both "XP Pro" and "Vista Ultimate" with "Multiplicity" here. The test may help me a lot with new stuff.

So with Object Desktop Ultimate, we are starting to look at being able to make some cooler stuff that might be termed experimental.


Would love to test any and all of "The Experimental" stuff. By all means I would give it a good run for the money and results would be returned quickly. Just hook me up and I'll do whatever it takes to get the job done.
As it is I test a lot of software and have a lot of fun with it. I have even here recently looked into VMware so as to be more careful with my OS.

The stand-alone subscription price is gonna end up like $29.95 but there will be bundles with our various programs at a steep discount for WC subscriptions.


That is a very good price! I have heard of some the really good stuff being worked on there at Stardock. I believe as you do "The next two years are to be the best there has been in sometime for any member at Stardock"!


Not every MyColors theme will show up on WC but quite a few of them will. At first they'll be in their own section but eventually they'll be like Master skins in the gallery except called Subscriber skins that are free for download to subscribers. After a year, the subscriber skin will turn into a Master skin (to reward long-time subscribers).


This is interesting for I just purchased "Cosmos". Which to me was a master theme. Not to be confused with a master skin. But are the master skins going to be My-Colors themes or such? Whatever I feel I got a really good deal on the theme and I am completely satisfied with way this My-Colors theme turned out.

Thanks for all the good hard work at Stardock. My computers here look very excellent.

You speak of "Support"! I have here recently seen some new people in that department.
Which can only mean that there is to be more work flow. The people there already are doing the best job ever done at Stardock. They really get things in shape and have a good relations with members to resolve any problem. I like that a lot.

Thanks again and keep up the good work!

SGT
Wizard1956
Reply #9 Sunday, May 4, 2008 10:06 AM
Less Support? Always been there for me. People need more patience. Dealing with OUR problems can be just as frustrating to them, cut'em a little slack. Not to be rude but if you're an unhappy camper,why camp at all? Stay home and be miserable.
...and prices going up all the time?

Windowblinds in 2001=19.95 Windowblinds in 2008=19.95 Did I miss something? As for a test...I hate tests, how about experience points? Since there ain't no "0" you can give me a "1"
DonDodds
Reply #10 Sunday, May 4, 2008 11:41 AM
Well, Frogboy did say that the cost of a subscription could go up to around $30 USD, but if that's matched with more content, such as the unlimited use of skins that most casual users have to pay for on an individual basis, then I'd say that's fine.

Brad (may I call you Brad? ) and Stardock seem to be working towards a clearer delination between their different types of customer. This breakdown seems clear and logical:

1) The Casual Customer - Gets MyColors pre-bundled on their PC or finds it through a non-technology source (such as a sports website). He or she will likely look through the different MyColors themes available and purchase one or two that they will stick with for a long time, perhaps to show their love for a couple of teams or an exotic automobile. This type of customer doesn't know a whole lot about the nuts and bolts of computing and is just happy to have a desktop environment that they enjoy seeing and using.

2) The Casual-Plus Customer - This type has an idea of how they want their computing environment to look, and is dissatisfied with the basic MyColors themes. They'll purchase Object Desktop, but are unlikely to buy a Wincustomize subscription, as once they find a look they like, they'll stick with it.

3) The Skin Fan - These are the folks like most of us posting here. They like the idea of making their computer look different, perhaps to fit with different moods, and enjoy the cleverness of different gadgets and gimmicks. They're best served with Object Desktop and a Wincustomize subsription, so they can continue to try out all sorts of different features.

4) The Power User - This type of user wants their computing experience to be uniquely tailored to themselves, right down to modifying how they interact with Windows itself. These are the types that need Object Desktop Ultimate and a Wincustomize subscription so they can continually fine-tune every single aspect of Windows. They're unlikely to ever reach the Nirvana of a "perfect computing experience," but this at least gives them the tools to indulge in their love.

5) The Skinner - The rarest of the rare, these are the people who have the talent, inclination, and discipline to design entire new themes from scratch. Note that most of us who dabble in skinning actually fall into categories 3 and 4 - we'll make one or two, or a dozen, specific wallpapers, icons, docks, or the like, but a full Windowsblind or even a suite/theme is far beyond our capabilities and inclinations. The true skinners need the full gamut of tools and a subscription, but these are the folks that Stardock wants to court, because today's fan skinner is tomorrow's employee, especially if they can produce good-looking, creative, and functional environments on a decent time schedule.

Note that I didn't include the "freeloaders," those who just use a freebie program or two and never buy a subscription. These folks aren't wrong, they just might not like what Stardock has to offer or not have a lot of available cash. However, they aren't technically customers, as they haven't paid for anything. It's very cool that Stardock allows certain of their programs to work indefinitely for the folks who just want a little something extra.

Or am I completely off-base here?
da_zman20
Reply #11 Sunday, May 4, 2008 1:34 PM
Or am I completely off-base here?
You are exactly right... about the different castes of people here... and I feel that stardock provides a great product, and everything they make is more complete than it has ever been... I've noticed that usually people who complain (at least on the forums and such) are dumb... lol... alot of people get angry with stardock, or even the community when they screwed up with install, or the use of the product. People don't care that they are downloading a beta, or in some cases even an Alpha, then they complain that it doesn't work right on their system... they don't know how easy they have it... I'm sure alot of people can agree with me when I say getting through the original betas of Desktop X and Object bar were terrible, somedays having to swith back to different versions, or stop using it for a couple days until a new version was available... lol... the memory resources the programs used to take, and now don't... these programs are amazing, and I'm glad that stardock has been as successfull as it has... I can't wait to see what's to come... My mouth starts to water everytime Brad talks about new stuff on OD... lol
Xarin
Reply #12 Sunday, May 4, 2008 3:52 PM
I personally think the Stardock software is innovative i don't see why you get so much bad criticism it gives powers to the people to be creative, and lets people who don't want to see the bland windows themes something new and amazing to look at rather then the same yellow folders etc.
Snowman
Reply #13 Sunday, May 4, 2008 4:54 PM

... less able to release some of the more cutting edge things sitting in our labs

Some thoughts on this, Brad.
Since there's less time to offer support for these 'thingies' - but they are ready to hit the streets;
How about releasing them to the public on 'as is' terms, and (totally) unsupported?

Sorta let the people use the applications at their own risk.
Just let the users know that they can't blame you if the applications turn their pets into Barbara Bush....
(or wreck their OS)

Jafo
Reply #14 Sunday, May 4, 2008 9:07 PM

Just let the users know that they can't blame you if the applications turn their pets into Barbara Bush....

If there's even the REMOTEST chance of that happening I ain't touching them with a ten foot barge pole.

If they on the other hand only mangle my OS well I'm 'in'....afterall I frequently 'mangle my OS' with Litestep, etc.....it's "fun".....

 

wulfn1
Reply #15 Sunday, May 4, 2008 9:41 PM
can't wait. New ways to feed my addiction!!..Thanks froggy
MarkSnyder61
Reply #16 Monday, May 5, 2008 5:16 AM
Sweet!
RomanDA
Reply #17 Monday, May 5, 2008 9:35 AM
hmmm need more dx programmers????
Timoleon5
Reply #18 Monday, May 5, 2008 12:01 PM
Stardock has survived for a zillion years (computer/net years, that is) because Stardock is the best. Thank you Brad for giving birth to this company!!
freezejeans
Reply #19 Monday, May 5, 2008 2:55 PM
Been a Stardock supporter for years and years now, y'all rock. Keep up the good work, can't wait to see the new features.

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