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Software Success Story: MicroVision Development

by NotePage, Inc.

Jim Mayall an icon on in the shareware industry started a small software company in college, developing award winning grade book programs for the Apple II and PC. After college and working at a real estate software startup, he again struck out on his own.

In 1988 Jim Mayall and his partners at MicroVision Development began developing applications for the PC and Windows. They started as a pure development company. Licensing products to 3rd party publishers, never considering the possibility of marketing products on their own. This was generally before online sales were common, and software was primarily sold in retail stores.

MicroVision was smart, they took care to hold onto all proprietary rights when working with the 3rd party publishing companies. In the early 90s, they saw the emerging presence of CompuServe and AOL and the possibility of online sales. In 1994, the technological changes coupled with their ownership of applications and technology, they decided to give online marketing a try.

Initially they viewed online marketing as a way to supplement their licensing business. Not surprising their online sales took off. Today their online sales represent the biggest portion of MicroVision's revenues. MicroVision still enjoys solid licensing relationships, but their focus is more and more on marketing their products in their line.

MicroVision has invested time and effort into streamlining processes, in areas where possible. They pay attention to the trends in online marketing and move with them, adopting new marketing methods as the trends emerge.

Jim Mayall still believes that the key to developing quality software is listening to customers and paying attention to what they want. This basic philosphy has created a loyal user base that has become one of MicroVision's biggest assets. MicroVision has figured out a way to generate repeat sales from their user base, aside from annual upgrades, which is something fairly unusual in small software companies. A recent innovation in MicroVision's new SureThing Photo product line http://www.surethingphoto.com/ struck me as pure brilliance. In addition to selling the software, MicroVision allows users to order photo prints, DVD slide shows and photo related supplies. The order process is integrated directly into the software! Allowing for a recurring revenue stream from a single contact.

The MicroVision product line is significantly larger than you might think. MicroVision benefits from a number of OEM relationships and only sell products online in which they feel they will are in a position to be successful with. They take great care not to compete with their partners unless they believe that the market is open to additional titles. In addition to MicroVision's SureThing software line they have a line of branded accessores (like labels and supplies) and sell 3rd party products through portals like LabelGear http://www.labelear.com . Over 30% of MicroVision orders are for multiple item sales.

Future plans include the release of number of new software titles in 2005 which complement their current offerings and expand on their current brands and base.

When asked what advice Jim would you give to developers starting out? He said "New developers should try to find a good niche, develop a great app, and stick to it. This is not a get rich quick scheme and it takes some work. I can't overemphasize developing a great app, either. It is the primary advertisement vehicle, and you need to make a good impression. Then it is marketing, marketing, marketing! I would encourage them to seek the help and advice of others as much as their budget might allow. Developers are not typically great marketers, and the lack of experience often means the loss of opportunity. Where possible they should monitor and learn from those more experienced, and spend more of their time perfecting their products."

Being that MicroVision has benefited from lucrative OEM and license agreements I also asked him his advice regarding negotiating contracts and agreements. Jim said "One of the beautiful things about online marketing is that it exposes your products not only to customers, but to businesses too. Once we started marketing software online we have had more inquiries than ever before and have developed some wonderful relationships. Negotiating licenses is touchy business. First, until you are experienced reading agreements, you really need good legal advice to avoid some very costly pitfalls. Even once you have gained that experience, you'll need someone to review your agreements before signing them. Second, you have to look at these as Win-Win propositions. That means you will very likely need to look at a price below, sometimes seemingly ridiculously below, your typical price. You do this in exchange for their more powerful market presence and distribution. You also need to know who you are partnering with. If you don't feel comfortable with them from the beginning,it is doubtful you will grow closer as you move through stressful negotiations or delivery milestones. Good partnerships are built upon trust."

Additional information about MicroVision Development can be found at http://www.SureThing.com

About the Author:
Sharon Housley manages marketing for the NotePage http://www.notepage.net and FeedForAll http://www.feedforall.com product lines.

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