Software Addins as a Business

I’ve written a couple of add-ins for CityDesk, and of course, it’s tempting to think about trying to make some money off of them. I’m already a partner in another add-ins business (Spheresoft, which makes MS Office addins — check out Highlighter if you view realtime data in Excel), so I know a little about what goes into the development, support, marketing, sales, licensing, etc. of doing this kind of thing.

Add-ins are a great business for small companies, because they are much easier to implement than a full-blown product and the software you are adding on to will help with marketing. Another add-in that Spheresoft will be publishing soon, changes the nature of spreadsheet modeling, but we’d never want to compete with Excel on thousands of other tiny features, so it makes more sense for this to be an add-in.

But, with any business, you have to decide how much effort you are willing to put in and what you are expecting back. The market of people who have Office is huge and I have a reasonable expectation of making a good enough return on Office add-ins to warrant the time spent writing and supporting them.

I’m not sure I can do the same for add-ins for Fogcreek products. I’m glad that people find them useful, and I do them because I need them as well. I would never make enough money to recoup support costs I would have to undertake if I charged for them.

So, they will remain free and pretty much unsupported for now.