Developed software is released for public use in several different ways. Depending on its intended use by commercial entities or individuals, the creator of a software program may choose to license it for resale, offer it to the masses for free, or advertise it as an add-on feature for existing applications. Commercial-off-the-shelf software – usually abbreviated as COTS – specifically refers to software programs that are ready for immediate use. These products are generally made available for commercial use through a licensing agreement.
Most of the COTS-based software systems are created to be compatible with the commonly used operating systems such as Windows, Linux, or Mac. These programs include filing systems, memory management, game engines, graphic designs, smartphone apps, and special drivers for monitors and printers.
Why These Software Programs Are Popular
Because the developer earns a royalty or substantial one-time payoff for introducing the software for sale – the distribution usually being handled by an outside party – the programs are generally quite affordable. This means that commercial and private users can purchase the desired software program for a nominal fee. The choice of purchasing a specific program is based on the need for more reliable data entry or transfer, better storage capability, or ease of displaying data. In other words, the amount paid to purchase the software is rapidly offset by the increase in business efficiency. In the end, overhead costs are lowered substantially simply by purchasing a specialized program.
Development And Distribution
Companies that are in business to help others increase their work efficiency often turn to an outside party for help in designing a program. An example would be a website developer. This type of company looks at the client portfolio and draws up a plan for creating a content-rich, visually appealing website that stands apart from what is displayed by the competition. Even though the website development company is staffed by professional designers, the task of creating software is often handed off to a third party.
In the above example, the program written for the client is very specific. However, the experts who create these software codes often develop more generalized software programs that can be used by millions of clients. This is an example of COTS software. The license to sell the product en masse can mean a tremendous amount of income for the developer.
Major Benefits Of COTS Software Programs
These ready-made applications are available at a low cost to the consumer or commercial entity. The initial cost is therefore negligible when compared to the potential increase in business. In addition, the reliability of the software is quickly known because the program is being used by a huge number of individuals or companies. Once it becomes apparent that the software is indeed a positive investment, word gets around and the product sells even faster.
Unlike some of the specialized software programs developed for use customized applications, COTS software is ready for immediate use by anyone operating a Windows or other popular system. It does not matter whether the end-user is a travel agent, warehouse distribution center, or home-based business owner. The product works fine regardless of where it is installed. For example, a well-designed product cataloguing system will appeal to quite a large segment of the business population.
Because every business sector relies on computers and mobile devices, the marketplace itself will drive the industry of developed software. COTS-based software programs do not rely on the software industry itself for success, but rather the general marketplace.
Some Disadvantages Of COTS
The major problem encountered by those who purchase ready-made software programs is one of vulnerability. Even though the program runs as intended, it may not have been developed in a manner that is interpreted as safe by the end-user’s computer security systems. An antivirus program may not recognize the software unless special steps have been taken by the developing company.
Another potential problem lies within the software’s coding. Because these programs sometimes allow users to link between websites or connect to outside parties via the Internet, the software itself could prove to be a weak link in the security chain. The software could be a very soft indeed, allowing unwanted malware or roaming bots to enter into the computer network.
Some COTS programming is sold for use on a single hard drive. The information may not be transferred or used by others. Many operating systems are sold for use on a single computer, and although discounts are given when many computer terminals are purchased at once, the upgrading procedures that follow in later years can prove to be overly expensive.
The vendors who supply the software may go out of business. This makes customer support impossible unless the developer has the rights to choose a new distributor. In many cases, the software program becomes unavailable in the future, and there is no way for the end-user to resolve any functionality problems that may occur.
Ask anyone who’s made any type of real money online how easy it is to earn a living from software, and you’ll hear all sorts of answers from all sorts of experiences. On one end of the spectrum, people will claim it’s as simple as coding a program and then uploading it to a few popular software libraries. On the other end, people say it’s next to impossible and that the market is already saturated.
One thing is clear no matter what end of the spectrum you’re on, and that is making money online as a software developer is definitely doable. Success depends on a number of things ranging from the software’s quality and timeliness to networking opportunities and sufficient funding. Here are a few recommendations that can help anyone at any stage of promotion.
Follow Traditional Methods
Just because a strategy is tried and true, it doesn’t mean it’s no longer applicable. So devote a week to uploading your software to each significant online software library. You’ll want to keep a database of the sites that accept your submission so that you can visit them later and record the number of downloads that your software receives. That’s important for establishing a download-to-sales conversion ratio.
You’ll also want to check out the promotional opportunities at these sites since many of them offer low-cost alternatives to AdWords and other similar advertising institutions.
Sell the Software with Different Capabilities
One question that developers always ask is, “How should I price my software?” They fear a low price will make their software look cheap and unworthy, while a high price won’t be affordable and cut out a significant portion of the market. That’s why some developers offer a single software product in differentiated versions.
A version containing the minimum amount of features, for example, is typically priced very low, while a version with the maximum amount of features is priced high. Between those two versions is a version containing an average number of features, and it’s priced somewhere between the low-feature version and the high-feature version.
Each version may even have its own label such as “Bronze” for the minimal version, “Gold” for the extensive version, and “Silver” for the version between those two. The idea here is to create a product that customers from every economic level can buy.
Sell Explicit Functions While Keeping the Main Program Free
You’ll see this strategy commonly applied to open source software, where the main software product is freely available and its add-ons are sold individually. Through this strategy, you can gain a huge audience with the freebie and then make an income with additional functions and/or features appended as external plug-ins or data-packs.
You can even charge for support. Support isn’t an add-on or plug-in, however, it is an external component of software that can generate income via documentation in either electronic or book format, phone consultation, and more.
Make it a Web-Enabled, Subscription-Based Product
If you’re familiar with SaaS, or Software as a Service, then you’re familiar with subscription-based software. Subscription-based software charges for access to certain features or data. Microsoft’s latest Office software, Office 360, is an example, although access is granted to the entire suite rather than specific parts of the suite.
One major factor underlying SaaS’s success is its platform. SaaS is web-based software, ultimately granting any device that accesses the web the same access to its core functions. This access is important because it widens the market while other types of software are exclusive to the platforms they were built for (Windows, Mac, iPad, etc.) According to a Gartner Group estimate, SaaS sales reached into the billions just four years ago, so this isn’t a strategy to dismiss.
If you’re struggling with selling software online, then maybe one of the strategies above will help. Making money online can be hard no matter what you’re selling, however, if you take the time to devise a plan as diligently as you wrote your software, you’re sure to enjoy financial successful sooner or later.
Photo Credit: Duckung
HyperText Markup Language, or HTML, was written and developed in 1990 by Tim Berners-Lee. Since then, there have been numerous variations on the language, but the idea remains, essentially, the same. It is a markup language that utilizes tags to describe document content with the document being a webpage. It is both a powerful and simplistic language that can define the look of a site.
HTML displays and alters text and images based on usage of elements. These elements have three parts:
If you want to bold text, for instance, you will need to use the tag ‘b’ since ‘b’ represents ‘bold’. You add it immediately before the section you want affected, and everything after this element will now be in bold. Most of the time, you will only want a select word or phrase altered, so it’s important to include an end tag. The end tag, simply, is the start tag with a slash in front of it (i.e. ‘/b’). This code will only make the text within the start and end bold. Every bit of text within an HTML document must be within a start tag and end tag. The tags are something that can be looked up, but after a while, you will have the more common tags memorized. It is also a good idea to look a list of all HTML compliant tags out there to see what types of alterations are available.
Now that you know how HTML works, you can start teaching yourself through practice. There are many places to practice online as well as countless tutorials showing you advanced techniques. When this is referred to as a language, it is meant in all seriousness. There is grammar and punctuation that must be adhered to in order to makes sure everything runs correctly. If one thing is out of place, any number of errors could occur. This is why practice is so important – you need to learn how to find and fix your own mistakes.
Starting with the building block in any pursuit is essential to success. It not only gives you important knowledge of the origins but also the ability to manipulate it later if a different language needs you to. All other languages add to HTML, and if you do not understand that language, how do you expect to build on it if you don’t know how to use it? HTML is not a hard language nor does it take a long time to learn, but it is an invaluable starting point in learning how to code by teaching you how the media onscreen relates to the words on a notepad and how to alter those things simply. Never forget that in coding, knowledge is power.
Software patent litigation presents complex issues for attorneys and companies to resolve. One of the leading issues involved in software patent disputes is that of patent infringement. Those who invent software programs aim to protect their inventions through patents. Holding a patent on an invention means that no one else may copy or profit from that invention.
Issues can also arise when individuals secure a patent that is overly broad for their software inventions. An overly broad patent may be invalid, and a court may decide not to uphold it.
Types of Claims in Software Patent Lawsuits
Courts typically defer to leading case precedent to determine the outcome of software patent lawsuits. Individuals may file claims under leading case precedent for software patent cases, such as a Beauregard claim. A Beauregard claim stems from the case of In re Beauregard, 53 F.3d 1583 (Fed. Cir. 1995). A Beauregard claim is asserted to prove that a manufacturer or seller of computer media, such as DVDs or CDs, is a direct infringer of a patent.
Another type of claim that an individual may file is a propagated signal claim. This type of claim is filed when a signal is encoded in an intangible format. A plaintiff may prove this claim by showing that certain data communications have been made through an intangible medium.
The Role of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO)
The PTO plays a significant role in providing guidelines that assist judges in interpretation of patent laws for software patent infringement lawsuits. The PTO maintains that plaintiffs may file API/Protocol or Graphical User Interface claims. Factors that an individual will need to consider in filing these claims is who the infringer is, the date and location of the infringement, whether the infringement yielded profits and whether the individual is a contributor or inducer of the infringement.
Direct Infringement of a Software Patent
Proving direct infringement of software patents is more complicated than a patent for other inventions. For software patents, an individual may need to show that there has been a collective infringement of the patent by multiple parties. Courts may find that there has been no infringement of a software patent if a plaintiff cannot prove that a party has practiced all elements of the direct infringement claim.
Asserting a Defense in a Software Patent Infringement Case
Parties that wish to assert a defense in software patent infringement cases will need to prove the defense by clear and convincing evidence at least one year to the filing date of the patent. An individual may file a software patent that is aimed as a defense to the infringement of claims involving a method of doing or conducting business. These claims are governed by section 273 of Title 35. Courts may have different interpretations for concepts like “doing business” and “conducting business” under section 273.
Those who are filing a patent or believe that another individual has infringed a software patent should speak with an attorney who has a specialty in this field. Software patent laws are complex, and a software patent attorney is in the best position to analyze how these laws may be applied to your case.