Right now, the promotion can fairly be described as not going well. There are fewer than two days left of a nine-day promotion, and the number of sales is at about 3300. It looks like sales are going to limp along and just fail to reach the unlock point of 4000 sales for Intaglio. There was clearly an expectation of at least 10,000 sales, which is where the final application, TechTool Pro, would have been unlocked. I argued in the previous post that the entire system of unlocks is ill conceived, putting a strong disincentive on buying early, even though early sales are needed. As well, there originally was a system of invitations that benefitted not the sender of the invitation, but the recipient, providing further encouragement to wait before purchasing; the invites have since been fixed to reward the sender and recipient both.
To provide an example of where the problem comes in, consider Intaglio. People have already posted comments on the promotion site to the effect that they will buy once Intaglio is unlocked. How many people are waiting for that? The bundle could be viewed as getting Intaglio, a well-regarded program that costs $89, for $50 with a bunch of other applications thrown in for free. It must be tempting, but, really, why should they buy it without knowing for sure that Intaglio will be unlocked? If enough people make that decision, none of them get the program, even though together they could have provided the needed number of sales. The group behavior seems stupid, but the individual behavior is completely sensible.
Given the state of the sales, I think it worth considering the optimal strategy for those who have already bought the bundle, and for those who are thinking about buying the bundle. The optimal strategy for MacUpdate is indifferent to me; I see no reason to care, except in how it influences the benefits I will get from the promotion.
Let's focus first on those who, like me, have already bought the bundle. We'd like to get as much more added to the bundle as possible, since it's all just free for us at this point. At first, it looks like we should encourage people to buy the bundle, so as to unlock Intaglio, at least. However, Joel Mueller, one of the organizers of the promotion, posted (as MUeller) a comment on 13/7 at 4:04 pm:
We still haven't pulled out our big guns yet. We wanted the community to pull through first. Do not loose [sic] hope. We have every intent to unlock every app in this bundle.
Interesting claim! Those "big guns" must be really something, right? Let's assume that they are enough to cause enough sales to at least unlock Intaglio.
However, it does mean that there are some nice additions to the bundle which they're holding back. This in turn means that encouraging people to buy before those "big guns" are made available is pretty much a fool's game. We should encourage people to wait, hopefully getting both the "big guns" and unlocking Intaglio and TechTool Pro. In passing, I think Intaglio is quite possible, but doubt TechTool Pro will be unlocked.
The same thinking applies to those who have already decided to buy, but haven't yet: they should wait to be sure that MacUpdate makes the "big guns" available. The same goes for those who are waiting to buy until, e.g., Intaglio is unlocked: they should wait, both to be sure that Intagio does unlock and so as to get the "big guns".
I can see no reason for prospective buyers not to wait, at this point. There isn't a sufficient rate of sales to be at all sure that Intaglio will unlock; TechTool Pro is a pipe dream. There are some extras that haven't been offered yet. What appears to be the best case right now would be for sales to tank completely, pretty much forcing MacUpdate to offer some serious incentives with enough time left for Intaglio to unlock.
The combination of supposed incentives in the promotion are pretty tragic. Each one has actually been a disincentive to early purchasing, basically killing any chance of enough sales to unlock the "crown jewel" of TTP. I must admit that I'm puzzled how MacUpdate could have gotten all of this so wrong. Could they actually have believed all the marketing dross about "the Mac community" on the promotion web site? There really isn't a relevant community there, just potential customers who'll make decisions that are right for them, not for some mythical community. It is not exactly a secret that people make choices for individual benefit can lead to perversely contrary results in the large.
I will offer up a thought on what MacUpdate's strategy should be, although I won't put much effort into it. You want to sell as many as possible, so offer those "big guns," do it fast, and make clear that there's nothing else. So long as there is reason to think you're holding back, you're providing incentives to wait, killing sales to those who would buy if Intaglio were unlocked.
As a closing note, do remember this is from someone who's already bought the bundle and thus has every reason to hope for a successful promotion. If I'm concluding that it would really be best for sales to die off, and fast, then there's something quite wrong with the incentive structure.