Boxed software isn't going away any time soon, says Smith Micro
Web retailer Amazon.com has released a few end of the year lists that show what people were buying in 2010. Among its "holiday hot sellers" list, Amazon said Smith Micro's Anime Studio Debut 7 and Manga Studio Debut 4 were two pieces of software that were given the most as gifts, along with Adobe Photoshop Elements 9.
When looking at the rising tide of app store-based software distribution, the popularity of netbooks and ultra slim PCs with no optical drives, and the hype surrounding smartphones, tablets, and Web terminals like Google's Chrome OS, boxed software like these would appear to be under serious threat of extinction. But good old fashioned boxed software serves a major purpose and has a specific group of consumers to whom it appeals.
"Many Customers see value in something tangible. Something that [they] can touch and feel," said Steve Yatson, Senior Director of Productivity & Graphics in Smith Micro's Consumer Division. "I don't see that going away anytime soon."
Though Amazon was a major driver of sales of Smith Micro's Debut versions of Anime Studio 7 and Manga Studio 4, the company's software is selling just as well in physical outlets like Target and Best Buy.
"I would hesistate to say that one or the other is the best," Yatson continued. "Both brick and mortar and Online have their merits."
For one thing, that famous quality of "shelf appeal" is actually a powerful sales tool. A 2009 study from Ohio State and Illinois State University showed that consumers are far more likely to buy products they've pulled down from a store shelf and handled.
"The 'display factor' as I call it is something that requires a box," Yatson said. "We take a great deal of time with our packaging. The images we use to represent the power and versatility of our graphics applications on that packaging are critical."
This helps reach a broader range of consumers. After all, the methods of discovery online do not work for everyone, and users who are likely to download a piece of software may not be the same people who would buy it in a retail store.
"We reach a different customer in a retail location as opposed to online. There's a great deal of visibility for both the product and the Smith Micro brand in retail," Yatson told Betanews today. "Having an attractive package on a retail shelf presents the opportunity to make an impression on a customer that may just be browsing and may not be familiar with our products or Smith Micro as a company."
Finally, there's the Christmas factor. You can wrap a boxed piece of software for a gift; and as anyone who grew up in the era when all consumer software was distributed on floppy disks will tell you, certain kids are thrilled to get software as a gift.
"We're seeing more parents and grandparents gifting our Debut products than ever before," Yatson concluded. "Anime Studio Debut, for example, is less expensive than the average video game. There's something satisfying about giving a child something educational, something that helps them grow or learn a skill such as animation."