Boycotting MacHeist

…or “Good software is worth paying full price for.”

Around this time last year a package of products was marketed and sold to the Mac community under the name “MacHeist.” From a purely consumer-centric point of view, the package represented good value for money: a number of excellent apps for a bargain-basement price. What was a little bit irritating to me (and to others, such as John Gruber) was that the package was marketed as being half a celebration of indie mac development and half a charitable enterprise, when in reality the promoters raked in the mad cash for themselves, to the tune of (according to Gruber) around a half-million bucks.

Fast forward to this year. MacHeist 2 is being planned, and a number of notable Mac sites have seemingly been “hacked” by someone allegedly calling themselves “malcor”. In actuality, it was a publicity stunt pulled by the MacHeist impresarios and their cronies. In the course of the stunt they maligned, explicitly or implicitly, a number of hosting companies as well as a number of software packages (perhaps most notably WordPress). The reaction from the community has been fairly negative, but the attitude of some of those participating in the hoax seems to be that they’re really, really sorry that they got caught. From a purely personal standpoint, I suppose I should be glad about this: there are simply too many mac-focused news sites to read them all. Now I know which ones to avoid.

I don’t seem to be alone in reaching this conclusion, either. I think it’s nice to have a demonstration so stark that it goes beyond “stop reading some websites, but that others are realizing that MacHeist is something they don’t want to be associated with either.

I’m against MacHeist philosophically. Not simply because the people who organize it arranged such a sophomoric publicity stunt, but because it’s bad business and bad for the Mac community.

TextMate is worth 39 euros. I don’t have to purchase it as part of a bundle; I don’t want to purchase it as part of a bundle. I want Allen Odgaard to get the cash, not some somewhat tawdry web 1.5 promoter preying on the naivete of independent software developers.

If you’re a developer, and you’re thinking of participating in this year’s Heist, I urge you to stop and think twice. It’s (of course) your right to sign any contract you want to, but consider two issues. First, what are you saying about the value of your product by giving the revenue to someone else? If the issue is that you’re having trouble marketing the product, pay a marketing guy to help you out. Second, there’s more than revenue to consider, but your own name and goodwill, which in the long term is worth more than any one product. Do you want to associate that name with people whose judgment is this poor? There’s an old but wise saying:

Lay down with dogs, and you’ll wake up with fleas.

You can make your bed wherever you like, but from this user’s pesrpective, MacHeist is a kennel.