Valve’s co-founder and CEO Gabe Newell said in 2011 that “piracy is almost always a service problem and not a pricing problem.”
Newell was speaking of delivering software digitally to users, saying that “…if a pirate offers a product anywhere in the world, 24/7, purchasable from the convenience of your personal computer will come to your country three months after the U.S. release and can only be purchased at a brick and mortar store, then the pirate’s service is more valuable.”
Valve is now best known for its Steam store, which deals in digitally-distributed videogames, PC utilities and movies. Valve cracked that market, as Steam is currently a multi-billion dollar company and many people’s first choice when it comes to PC gaming.
This isn’t the first time making content available to people quickly, easily and at an affordable price has been successful. iTunes showed the world that music didn’t have to come on a CD anymore, and services such as Netflix changed the way movies and TV are consumed.
So now what is Microsoft doing that could help resellers to adopt this method and allow them to offer clients software digitally, 24/7, right at their computers, in such a way that buying digitally is the most appealing option? The ultimate beneficiary to Microsoft’s answer is the end user and Rectron is making this possible through its resellers.
The answer is Electronic Software Delivery (ESD) for Microsoft’s most popular software, namely Windows, Office, Visio and Project. Microsoft’s ESD strategy revolves around enabling resellers to set up their own customisable digital storefronts with which to serve their specific markets.
By providing a means for resellers to supply software to end-users electronically, Microsoft is helping resellers avoid the costs associated with the sale of physical goods. This negates the need to pay for floor or shelf space in stores, as well as drastically reducing the administration costs and physical activities that come from handling those goods. Better yet, it solves the age-problem of old stock sitting on shelves with no customers to buy them, as only the latest – and most in-demand – products are available for sale via ESD.
This makes the buying process much simpler for the consumer too, as they no longer need to fuss with physical CDs. All they would need to do is visit the online storefront, log in with their account information, make their purchase, and wait for an email containing the relevant information about their purchase to hit their inboxes. From there it’s a simple matter of downloading the software from Microsoft’s servers and entering their new product key when requested.
One of the most convenient benefits is that all purchased products are permanently associated with the consumer’s account. Monitoring and managing the number of installations, retrieving CD keys and re-downloading purchases is entirely under the user’s control, and never more than a few mouse clicks away.
There’s no waiting for a DVD to arrive, either: purchases are processed in moments, and the software is made available as soon as the transaction is concluded. No more wondering if your package is on its way, if it’ll arrive in time and if it’ll even get to you at all.
Consumers are free to use their purchased products on however many PCs they bought licenses for.
ESD is one of those rare win-win solutions that will make life easier for resellers and end-users alike. Brick and mortar stores, on the other hand, need to up their game if they want to remain relevant.