Pricing done wrong: PowerDVD

Tags: — Allan @ 3:08 pm

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?