A place for discussion of the VFP revenue model
See also VFP Revenue Model Problems
I reckon that, from the perspective at Microsoft, the VFP revenue model looks like this:
||Sales of VFP boxes
||Sales of VFP upgrades in boxes
||Some arbitrary fraction of MSDN sales
It strikes me that
- If Microsoft thinks that VFP sells many MSDN boxes, then VFP does well in the Microsoft marketing mix, and
- If Microsoft thinks that VFP doesn't sell many MSDN boxes, then VFP does not do well in the Microsoft marketing mix.
Nobody knows for sure, but I'll bet that the Total Sales number they come up with is way too low, and that increasing it isn't worth the bother. What else could possibly explain Microsoft's pathetic commitment to promoting VFP over the years?
I reckon that of the thousands of VFP developers who pay thousands of dollars per year for MSDN were instead to buy VFP or a VFP upgrade in a box, and then buy just the products they need and use as required, the developers would, on balance, save several hundred dollars per year and VFP would do much better since sales are counted, not mostly poorly estimated as they are now.
In other words, VFP total sales would go up, Microsoft total revenue would go down, and the VFP product and the VFP developers both win.
Speaking just from personal observation, I spend about US$2500 per year on MSDN Universal, and I get from this many things, at least 80% of which I never use. I estimate that 70% of the total-factor benefit I get from MSDN is from VFP, and the rest comes from Office, SQL Server, MSDN library, and the operating system CDs, and the undeniable convenience of having it all in one binder.
What proportion does Microsoft think each copy of MSDN is due to VFP? If it was just two points (2%) I would be absolutely and amazingly surprised beyond my wildest imagination.
In other words, for me the VFP component of MSDN is worth $1,750, (ignoring that I can licence VFP for myself through upgrades for maybe $150 a year tops) but Microsoft thinks that in MSDN it's worth $50, and that's a very generous $50 (2% of $2500).
What's wrong with this picture? Given this, assuming that there is any truth to it, why do VFP developers purchase MSDN each year? Would it not make abundant sense to buy MSDN say every third or fourth year, and buy VFP in a box once in a while, pocket a few thousand bucks, and moreover see VFP get more of its due in those internal sales reports, both in absolute and far more in relative terms.
See also Making Every Fox Count
I couldn't agree with this more.
You can also promote Fox by supporting your local user's group. Find a way to contribute that you enjoy or if you don't enjoy the meetings talk to somebody and make them into something fun.
The Chicago group is booming. We've had big name speakers pass through here for the last 4 months in a row. Now we've got our own website thanks to one of our generous members. We did some charity work. The list goes on.
All this makes the community stronger and encourages folks to upgrade which supports future upgrades. MS says we're a model community. Let's grow that even more. -- Joe Kuhn
Here's an idea for MSFT - offer an add-on to VFP for $x in the form of an advanced database container addressing the security issues, perhaps record limitations, etc. ie - better match against SQL Svr. Perhaps this could be a per installed application usage charge, not a seat license. Many apps wouldn't need this add-on, and would stick with the default DBC. For the industrial strength ones, I'd think users would pop for it - helping start the marketing engine with an infusion of $, and would give MSFT a better handle on the amount of serious development going on. Peter Diotte
I don't think you realize that VFP is not competition for SQL Server - the range of services and the internal capability is not equivalent. MSDE is a competitor of SQL Server (actually, a stepping stone to SQL Server) - it's a backend supporting an equivalent DML/DDL syntax and near-equivalence of features. VFP is a development environment, and has a tragic drawback when looked at relative to SQL Server; it dictates a development environment! SQL Server juist doesn't give a hoot what the frontend is or how you talk to it; it isn't trying to subsume the functionality of the front-end and mid-tier development toool; in fact, it's purpose is to enhance such tools. VFP already is dead if you feel it's in competition with SQL Server -- Ed Rauh
Hi Ed - I fully realize that VFP is not positioned as competition for SQL server. I'm looking for a way to increase revenue around VFP to keep it going. If it weren't for VFP's development environment, it would be dead already. So, why not leverage both - see below.
Or - Microsoft creates "Visual SQL Server" which bundles VFP as the defacto front end. Further, MS purchases/ tightly intergrates Web Connect into this same bundle. Now they have the seat license $, the front end and middle tier object language with web capabilities in one box. The VFP/SQL development staff grows. Ad budget increases and MSFT folds a legion of VFP enthusiasts into their holy grail called SQL Server. Long live Fox. -- Peter Diotte
Why would MSFT need/want anything like "Visual SQL Server" when they already have a tightly unified development model in .NET. What would Web Connect really bring to the table that IIS ASP.NET combo does not give? Only VFP syntax is what I see. Sorry, I don't see it happening anytime soon. -- Jeff Huntsman
Jeff, you make a good argument. I'm just looking for ways for MSFT to realize more value with VFP so it's sustained and marketed to its potential.
Microsoft is absolutely not interested in increasing the revenue stream from VFP. It could do so easily, using a variety of methods, but doing so is not on the radar. It's not like dozens of ideas haven't been generated and tried and failed over the past 5 years. Nothing's been tried. There are too many wealthy managers at Microsoft, and none of the powerful ones have any real stake in bettering VFP's revenue numbers.-- Steven Black
Re the points raised by Ed Rauh and others: my understanding is that at a time when license costs are on the rise and economies are tight, there are already many customers/potential customers out there who can't afford SQL Server for their small factories and shops. As much as 80% of first world economies are driven by these mom-and-pop enterprises. I agree that this is an area where tools like VFP need not compete with SQL Server in 2002. Free/inexpensive backends like MySQL are much more of an issue than SQL Server in this arena for exactly the same reasons as SQL Server is important in larger sites. -- John Ryan
Steven, so what is your take on the future of VFP? Specifically do you think that VFP 8 will be the end of the line or will there be something beyond 8? Since MS has no interest in expanding the VFP marketshare then won't VFP die rather quickly? Does this concern you?
I know you addressed this to Steve, but I want to comment that the present "state" of VFP (as continued development, support, advertising and marketing is concerned) is the same as it has been since MS bought it. Accordingly, why would anyone think that VFP8 is the last release? -- Jim Nelson
I agree with you Steve, if Microsoft wanted to market VFP they wouldn't have to come with those weak excuses for not doing it. -- Fernando Alvares
Contributors: Steven Black, Joe Kuhn, Ed Rauh, Peter Diotte, Jeff Huntsman
Category VFP Marketing
( Topic last updated: 2002.09.18 08:45:36 AM )