Sometime in the past few years, I stopped using WinZip. That’s after ten years of enthusiastic use of what used to be an essential utility. It helped that basic support for the non-proprietary and widely used Zip format was built into Windows Me and then Windows XP.
But WinZip also lost me because somewhere along the way they turned from a scrappy little underdog that sold a necessary product at a reasonable price into a faceless corporation that tried to maximize its revenue stream by squeezing its longtime customers. First they bundled Google’s toolbar. Then, after years of offering free upgrades to paying customers like me, the company started charging for upgrades last year. In fact, the new, $29.95 license (the pro version is a mind-boggling $50) doesn’t include any upgrade rights unless I pay an extra $6.95 for upgrade assurance. (I think that’s close to what I paid for my original WinZip license 10 years ago.) As a longtime customer, I get a paltry five bucks off the single-user license price. Gee, thanks, WinZip.
It’s no wonder that WinZip’s revenues have been plummeting in the past three years.
And now the transformation is complete:
Corel Corporation (NASDAQ: CREL; TSX: CRE) today announced that it has completed the acquisition of WinZip Computing, makers of the world’s leading aftermarket compression utility.
So long, WinZip.
A commenter at PC World’s Techlog says:
[A]fter 15 years in this industry, I have to say that I don’t know of ANYONE who has EVER actually paid for WinZip.
I paid for my copy of WinZip back in the day. I know others who did as well. But individual users are the exception. The real revenue stream for a product like WinZip these days is from corporations, which dare not have dodgy unlicensed evaluation software on their users machines. So because they know that some of their users will try to sneak WinZip in, they buy site licenses that cover the cost for every seat in the organization. It’s cheap insurance against lawsuits.
I would bet those licenses are a buck or two per seat, rather than the $29 or $49 that WinZip wants. Those prices may have made sense in 1993, when a computer cost $5000 and a copy of WordPerfect was $299, but they don’t make a lot of sense today, when free and cheap alternatives are widely available.