Wednesday, January 05, 2011
I had a few e-mails today asking about pricing for the upcoming version of Timeline 3D (v3).
First a bit of historical context... In May 2005, we launched the first version of Bee Docs Timeline and the price varied between $50 to $60 USD. Since that time, we have released 48 public updates. Most of those updates included at least one bug fix and one new feature, though some releases have been more dramatic than others. Skim the blog and our movie section to see what we added in those releases.
So far, all of those updates have been free except for one. In May 2008 we released the 3D Edition and charged existing customers $25 to add the 3D features. The price for new customers has been set at $65 USD for the past several years.
The 3D upgrade was a big success. We received a lot of positive feedback on the pricing and almost every active customer upgraded to the 3D edition (even though we were still maintaining a "standard" edition at that time).
With that in mind, we are planning the same pricing structure for the v3 release. The upgrade for existing customers will be $25 USD, the price of a new license will remain unchanged at $65 USD.
There is also a web hosting component of the v3 release... At first, my plan was to have Timeline 3D publish timelines to a server that you maintain (FTP site, etc...). I was reluctant to be in the hosting business. However, over the past year it became clear that the best user experience for the vast majority of customers is only possible if BEEDOCS hosts the timelines.
Hosting the timelines ourselves allows us to do things like one-click publishing with faster uploads. For example, multimedia processing is shared between the client and server to optimize publishing times and quality. We also host the images and video in a global content distribution network to achieve a faster audience experience than would be possible for most customers to provide who are running their own web servers.
Hosting timelines is a variable cost to us based on the traffic to our site as well as amount of multimedia in the timeline. We are determined to keep ads out of our products, including the videos, so that means that we will have to charge for this hosting service, especially for customers who have millions of viewers. One of the goals of the beta period is to study our costs associated with hosting timelines so that we can set the hosting prices fairly.
My expectation (subject to change) is that we will have a free level of web hosting that will work for the majority of our customers. If you are posting several timelines each month, have a few hundred viewers, and don't use video / audio in your timeline events... my goal is to keep this kind of hosting included in the price of the initial software license. There will be no ads.
However, if you are creating a timeline with videos in it that is going to be embedded in the homepage of CNN, we are going to need to charge for that. We are still measuring those costs and will aim to have a very simple pricing structure that is fair based on your usage.
Hopefully that helps to answer the pricing question for now. As we learn more, I will announce it here on the blog.