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Old 09-13-2004, 11:18 AM   #11 (permalink)
Mark Rejhon
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I have a feeling that, since there's so many free telnet source code samples (it only requires approximately 100-200 lines of programming or so to write a simple plaintext-only telnet client, without VT100 -- Sun's J2ME Source Code Example), people are likely going to just start making or selling inexpensive telnet clients once the Blackberry has more prosumers who also need to access their home MacOSX and Linux boxes. TelnetFloyd, an open source project, is already running on several cellphones, and somebody is liable to fix it eventually to work on BlackBerry.

Idokorro used to sell at $99 before raising to $199, presumably because the market was small for a telnet/SSH client and all the sales they were getting were pretty much from corporations large enough to afford a BES server.

However, that still has not happened yet, and some of us are willing to pay a more full price such as $99 or $199. Like I did. Idokorro is also the only way I can make successful relay phone calls (for the deaf) at maximum speed I can thumbtype at telnet:// (MCI's own wireless version of ) and my own personal relay server I developed on my Linux box for Canadian relay use.

Realistically, I think it possible (you never know -- they may only stick to big corporations) Idokorro may adjust prices to reflect major BlackBerry market changes with public MDS being common, since their cellphone telnet/ssh is only $45. It seems as if it could theoretically happen, some kind of a slight price equallization even if they keep the BlackBerry version a bit more expensive. If this happens, I predict this will happen sometime mid-2005 because that is when all the North American carriers will have deployed public MDS. (Some carriers sooner such as Rogers this November). From a business perspective, I would assume Idokorro will need to capture as much profit as possible before lowering prices hopefully before a better alternative hits the market.

I have no idea of Idokorro's plans, but I can figure out why they had to raise the price from $99 to $199 -- it happens with virtually nonexistent prosumers and nonexistent small businesses, but large corporations don't often care as much as the smaller ones about the price difference between $99 and $199 when lots of other software they buy costs thousands. Now that BES are moving into smaller businesses and now you will soon get telnet with needing BES/MDS, every single Blackberry user will be a market target if at least one system they own is telnet-accessible.

It could happen eventually, because I am starting to notice an explosion of J2ME telnet software -- it's a matter of time one of these ends up working on BlackBerry too. MuTelnet from actually displays the login prompt but I can't thumbtype. It's also more primitive. Another J2ME program, FloydTelnet and FloydSSH, does full color ANSI (VT102), but fails to install on my BlackBerry part of the way through the over-the-air download.

Even if Idokorro keeps the price up longer-term, big corporations may prefer the full tech support of Idokorro even with the prescence of, say, a working free TelnetFloyd on BlackBerry. Much like they will pay for Linux rather than getting a free distribution. Some small corporations and individuals (students, etc) may prefer a free option if it works good enough.

Also look at selling desktop telnet/SSH software at prices not too far off from Idokorro's own .... This is a very popular SSH client called SecureCRT for Windows -- and it costs a whopping $99 -- even though there are free SSH programs available for Windows! I used their earliuer product back in 1995 when NTCRT first came out, and they have grown quite a lot to what appears to be a very profitable company. I still use their product even after almost 10 years and it is one of the superior SSH clients for Windows. I highly recommend it. (Mind you, they sell a telnet-only version for only $34.95). So it is, indeed, possible Idokorro will not lower prices, or only lower to $99 or thereabouts. They might, for example improve MobileSSH to do full color ANSI/VT100 support as well as do a higher performance buffering systems, etc. Or release a telnet-only version for cheaper. I do hope that Idokorro is happy to expand their market to prosumers, but we can't necessarily expect them to do so -- assuming the BlackBerry market is big enough, and their telnet/SSH remains good enough compared to competition, they may still find profit in continuing a fairly high price.

I do think that $99 should be the new sweet spot that doesn't damage Idokorro themselves -- there's an inverse exponential relationship, and when the market is big enough, it can be lucrative -- selling 4 times as many at half the price -- resulting in twice the profit -- it definitely was possible the BlackBerry market is not big enough for them to be profitable at a lower price. Not anymore during 2005 when public MDS is common. When a market is smaller, selling only 1.5 as much at half the price is NOT more profitable than selling at the original price (Exception: Unless it results in other revenue, such as subscriber revenue) And you need to typically sell at least 2x more copies at half price, to make price-reduction a more profitable decision, and this doesn't take into account of tech support costs per customer! Now, there are other decision factors, such as cannibalization of sales of more expensive software, like their MobileAdmin product, they obviously don't want to do that. So it's a delicate balance. However, they advertise the cellphone software at $45, and thus, I think $99 for the Blackberry version should be the new lower price, and I would recommend to Idokorro to seriously consider that pricepoint sometime during the year 2005.

Either way, I respect Idokorro's businesses -- they do understandably need to walk the fine line somewhere, selling to bigger corporations with excellent technical support. They actually fixed some obscure bugs I noticed and reported, so I would vouch for the good support that Idokorro gives to customers. A popular argument is why buy Linux because it's free, but some do buy it anyway!
Mark Rejhon
Author of XMPP extension XEP-0301: - specification - open source