Product registration and licensing systems is a fairly common call for help on the REALbasic forums. I know I’ve rolled my own registration system and used various commercial solutions over the years. In fact, we came up with a solution that works with desktop apps using a licensing system meant for servers. That solution has worked well, but time goes on and what was good for years might not be such a great idea now. Software grows old and stale and new solutions are born.
To me it seems that there are a couple of issues to deal with. The first is keeping casual piracy down to a minimum. I have no doubt that someone determined enough can pirate any piece of software. It’s just a fact of life-get over it. This means that if someone pays for the software they can’t post the registration code and have it go all over the internet. Or if they do, it quickly gets squashed and it’s no longer valid. Another consideration is that I don’t want to piss off my good customers because my licensing scheme is so draconian (I’m looking at you Microsoft).
The second part of the equation is getting paid. People want to use PayPal or their credit card (and occasionally checks via snail mail) but setting some of that up on your own is a pain. PayPal is probably the easiest but I know there are segments of the population that refuse to use it. Plus I want my money sooner rather than later. If someone else is handling my money will I have a waiting period or minimum balance before I get to see the money? Is it an automatic transfer or is it via check?
The third part of the equation is administration of the system. How easy/hard is it to add coupon codes? Can I get detailed sales reports? How easy is it to issue to refunds? Can I email customers with news? And do those customers have an easy way to opt-out of future emails? Can customers retrieve their licenses without manual intervention?
The fourth part is how easy/hard is it to integrate into my application? Do I have to come up with my own registration code algorithm? How do I convert existing customers over to the new system? Does it work on Mac, Windows and Linux?
So I want it good, reliable, cheap and fast! No pressure there!
Kagi and eSellerate seem to be two fairly common solutions. Both take a chunk of money from the sale price and until I saw the Apple app store I thought their commission was a little high. Perhaps it’s worth the hassles leaving all of the server details to someone else (after having dealt with server issues in the past six months it might be worth it!)
FWIW, I used Kagi several years ago and was not very impressed with their responsiveness to support issues. I also found their interface for making a webstore to be very clunky. Hopefully they’ve changed, and if so, I’d love to hear about it.
What are you using for registration systems? Do you like it? Was it easy to integrate into your application? Has it helped income or hurt it? What sort of problems have you had?