Pricing done wrong: PowerDVD

Yesterday, I read Don’t just roll the dice, a short book about software pricing that is available as a free eBook and can also be purchased in paper form, much like the great book Sustainable Energy – without the hot air. Perhaps there is something about the air in Cambridge that helps these guys to just get it?

As an example of someone that sits at the other end of the scale and certainly doesn’t get it is the company behind the PowerDVD software. Their pricing policy positively scares customers away!

Lots of reviews confirm that PowerDVD is one of the best choices if you need a piece of software to play DVDs or ISOs of DVDs on your media center. So far, so good: I’ll have one of those, preferably for immediate download – no need for a box and CD and all that. As for what it costs, that is a harder question.

It turns out that there are 3 editions of PowerDVD, called Standard, DeLuxe and Ultra, and Cyberlink publishes a comparison of them here. The price is either £80, £50 or £40, once I choose which feature set I want, but that is hard. I want surround sound and DTS and such, in many channels, and SPDIF mixing sounds good too. But there is no explanation of what it means, and I frankly wasn’t thinking of paying £80 for a piece of software that can play DVDs. It does say in a footnote that some of the crippled or missing features can be obtained via purchased Advanced Audio Pack for PowerDVD. Coming soon. Coming soon? How much will it cost when it does? How soon?

Hmm. I am now no longer sure I want to buy PowerDVD, but I’ll download the eval version and check that out, while seeing what I can find elsewhere. If I decide I want it, at least I can just buy it there and then. However, the situation quickly gets even less clear:

  • Scan and Amazon sell PowerDVD 9 Ultra for around £45, in a box. That’s only a fraction more than what the downloadable version costs directly from the publisher’s web site. WTF?
  • Scan also sells PowerDVD 9 OEM for just £4.54. Is that the same thing the publisher charges £40 for?
  • A US retailer sells the standard edition for $40, and a pop-up informs me I can have $8 off if I order within an hour. $32 is only £20, so that sounds good too.

But what about the issue of editions? Which one do I go for? Can I change my mind and upgrade if I get the wrong one? And why is it SO expensive to buy from the publisher? Are the others selling pirated versions? I just don’t get it.

Confused, I decide to do the obvious and buy a competitor’s product instead: this is one of the points Neil makes in his pricing book that is spot on. BlazeDVD is not quite as good in some ways, but they have just two editions, and it’s clear that the Standard one will do just fine for me. Most importantly, I can download it immediately without feeling like I’m getting ripped off in the process.

Unfortunately, the Cyberlink web site doesn’t have a way for ordinary people who have a question to submit one to them, so I have not been able to ask them if they are aware just how much their pricing annoys me. Their contact form makes it clear that they don’t give a shit about individual customers.

Their loss. What do you think?

5 thoughts on “Pricing done wrong: PowerDVD

  1. The second book you mention, Sustainable Energy, has lost credibility, itself hotair, for not including nuclear energy in its roundup of alternatives.

    With more nuclear power plants we could desalinate water, and switch to using hydrogen cars.

    In a decade each *modern* nuclear plant produces less than a can of coke worth of waste which can inexpensively be returned to the sun.

  2. I’ve not read either of these books but I’d like to lay down an alternate theory regarding Cyberlink.

    Lets assume for a moment that Cyberlink make most of their money from OEMing PowerDVD to DVD drive manufacturers – in which case the whole purpose of the website perhaps becomes not to sell software to indivudial buyers but instead to articulate the value of the free product so they can appear compelling as an OEM partner.

    If it is designed for this purpose and the existence of boxed product at places such as Amazon is more to lend credibility to this perceived value than to drive direct sales then how would I use this as a chennel sales person – I’d be using the strength of features in the various editions (as exhibited by the retail price differential) to get a few more cents per unit on my OEM detail in exchange for an edition trade-up, this works for me as I’m selling unit volume commitments measured in the millions.

    So perhaps they haven’t got it wrong, perhaps they have just got it right in a very focussed way…

    As to the nuclear debate – there seems to be a lot of discussion about this at the moment with some focus on what we are going to be doing with regard to Uranium in about 70 or so years (worlds supply runnig out etc), this seems to be smoke and mirrors to help trivialise the real discussion which is waste. it’s all very well to say that there is only a coke cans worth of direct waste but a lot of people then ask about all the contaminated stuff that goes into making the coke can, they seem to be saying that its of a scale where we’d have to send the factory as well as the can into the sun (perhaps not so inexpensive or viable), as usual, I have no idea what the truth is but its interesting talking about what it might be…..

  3. Hi Seth – thanks for your comment. I am surprised you think the book does’t mention nuclear as an option: As I had read the book, I became increasingly convinced that nuclear has to be a large part of the solution.

    The author probably doesn’t like that, but acknowledges that it’s a strong possibility, and devotes a whole chapter to nuclear power…


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