Money for Nothing and Your Chicks for Free…

(Disclosures: I work for Namemedia, who is technically a competitor of Internet Brands, owners of vBulletin.  I also run several sites that use vBulletin and spend a significant part of my work week working in vBulletin code…)

Over the past month, there’s been a slowly erupting feud in the vBulletin community over the new pricing structure that was announced for vBulletin 4.0 by Internet Brands.

You see, back in the day, the original vBulletin license cost $185 (originally $160 I think) and could be renewed for a yearly fee of $60.  With the new version of the software (which has not been released yet) they are moving to a license per major level release, rather than what might be best described as a yearly fee structure. New licenses will cost $195.

I’m going to say right here, right now, that I don’t get why people are so up in arms about this.  We want Internet Brands to be able to develop excellent software, right?  We want to use the best, right?

Well that won’t happen if they don’t get paid for their software.  Ford does not upgrade your car for free.  Microsoft did not upgrade your Vista operating system to Windows 7 for free, so why the expectation that Internet Brands will offer perpetual free upgrades?

I know part of the complaint is that it’s going to get expensive if you have a bunch of vBulletin sites.  My answer is this: if your sites don’t earn enough to pay for the license upgrade, then perhaps you shouldn’t be running so many sites!  If it isn’t earning then by all means you ought to be running open source software.

The plain truth is this: many of us would pay MORE for vBulletin if we could get an enterprise level support agreement.  Those of us who have mission critical vBulletin installations would love to be able to get preferred support from them.  So perhaps some level of tiering in pricing might work.

The bottom line is this: I have no problem paying good money for good product.  I don’t expect free, and neither should you.  There are plenty of free open source bulletin board solutions out there, if you can’t pay, I suggest you try using one of them.

Sad to say, but the world of vBulletin has far too much drama about it.  Perhaps we will be better off without the complainers…

4 Replies to “Money for Nothing and Your Chicks for Free…”

  1. Only a fool would think that spending $250 to upgrade to the suite is good value compared to $40 a year.

    This is assuming you have forums & blogs.

    For forums only it will cost $175 to upgrade.

    If you assume that V4 will be around for 2 years, then the $40 cost has risen to over 200% or over 300% if you had the blogs.

    Comparing it to Windows 7 (as you have) – they produce a family pack for $150 – so you can upgrade three computers for the price of slightly more than one – this is a good offer from MS (and of course the product is ready to ship in full, when the money is paid – not in 2/3 months time)

    (disclaimer: Not saying you are a fool, just that the true upgrade costs for many users is not being properly highlighted)

  2. First, apples to apples is upgrading the forum only, not the suite…hence free upgrade and no additional license cost until they release 5.0 as you note, about 2 years hence…a more than fair proposition.

    It’s just not reasonable to expect them to upgrade software for free.

    1. No one is asking vBulletin Solutions, or Internet Brands to give us a free upgrade. If one takes the time to read the complaints and arguments, it isn’t over “GIMME A FREE UPDATE”, but rather Internet Brands and vBulletin Solutions yanking our original terms of sale and not allowing us to buy our yearly updates as usual.

      Our original terms of sale allowed us to buy yearly updates at a rate of 40.00 or 60.00. Now we can’t do that. We’re either stranded at what we have or we have to buy essentially a brand new license at 175.00 instead of a brand new license at 195.00

      1. Initial upgrade, free…then new license at next major level release…which would be 5.0 – and easily 2 years out.

        That’s plenty of time…I never figured the yearly fee would last for ever…

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