6 Differences Between Software Delivery: Then and Now

Jan 27, 2023

Anil Patel, Product Manager for Salable

Before SaaS there was Software-in-a-Box

Being part of the Salable team has been an exciting journey with new challenges and discoveries. It’s made me reflect on how much the software industry has changed…and will again, if Salable has anything to do with it.

(My previous roles had been in the communications, mobile devices, enterprise software and services industries. I think it’s fair say that I’ve seen the evolution of software delivery.)

1. Software was physical

I remember when it was physically delivered on a disk, packaged in a branded box together with its documentation; installation guide, end user manuals, EULAs, global warranties, licences! If the customer wanted to add more users, we would dispatch additional paper licences. But technically there was nothing to stop additional user licences being added without purchase. Nothing except the EULA of course.

2. Licensing was perpetual

When we were shipping physical software, the licences tended to be perpetual, with no recurring revenue model. Additional revenue could be generated through major updates, upgrades, installation, ongoing support and maintenance.

3. ‘Being honest’ was a 'thing'

There was no licence key to verify authorised software access. Therefore only the EULA prevented software piracy (unauthorised copying or sharing by unlicensed users).

4. Customers stuck with the same version

It was common practice to run with one version of the software, never upgrading and therefore never paying another penny for the product. And this would generate interesting conversations on support calls; customers running v2.0 of a product that had evolved to v5.0.

5. We had inventory

Physical software meant holding stock for customers. Older versions became obsolete and worthless when a new version was released, we swapped out inventory for a percentage of the stock. And customers frequently became cautious when ordering stock, which resulted in them being out-of-stock and their customers either having to wait or source alternative, competitive products. It wasn’t uncommon to use the same software disk for multiple customer installations.

6. Hardware was king

Because more revenue was made from devices and airtime, software didnt have the same value. This of course affected the bottom-line of the software category and also undermined the perception of software as a whole; it was treated as a sundry item. All that IP and capability used to enhance a hardware deal. How things have changed!

Today of course it’s very different; software can be delivered within minutes via an internet connection for on premise installations, compliance can be built into the application to stop unauthorised copying or sharing by unlicensed users. And you wouldn’t be without the latest version! SaaS licensing is completely flexible; from per user to board licences for products like Trello and Miro. Release updates and upgrades as frequently as your development team can deliver them. And you can be as creative as you want regarding pricing and licensing to suit your customer’s needs.

Today, imagine if anyone said they wanted their software delivered physically, on a disk, inside a box! It would be met with disbelief. Dongle, anyone?

Tweet from Neal Riley saying "Commercial freedom and flexibility is a must for any digitally enabled business. @SalableApp gives you the tools to build your SaaS business."

Tweet from Neal Riley saying "Commercial freedom and flexibility is a must for any digitally enabled business. @SalableApp gives you the tools to build your SaaS business."