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Buying Avionics Software (Piece of Advice)

 
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pcos
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Joined: 03 Nov 2003
Posts: 2260

PostPosted: Fri Feb 13, 2009 10:35 am    Post subject: Buying Avionics Software (Piece of Advice) Reply with quote

One big piece of advice I would like to offer..
I would like to suggest that when you are studying who to go with...
Request a "functionality list"....
Make sure you know what it is you are buying.
It is only fair that you understand the systems that are modeled and what is in development.
One of the benefits of pushing the software folks on this is it creates a "to do list" and gets them to evaluate where they are and what is left to do.
I think that we should all accept the fact that we are not flying real aircraft and that there are varying levels of "Critical" system simulation components required.
I would like to think that the best selling software has:
- All "Core" systems modeled
- Longest Track Record out on the market
- A Forum/Tech Support person on staff
- A competitive price (not always the cheapest!)
These are things we would look for.
At the same time, many of the Software vendors are entertaining or already involved in PRO projects and the price ranges in that industry (lets not confuse entertainment with PRO Training!) are far higher as per THEIR norms....
One of of the conflicts/struggles the software people have is how to differentiate the Enthusiast Software from the PRO.
I can tell you for sure that the more PRO software they sell (at PRO prices) the better the pricing will be for the Enthusiast version.
The challenge is what needs to be different for the PRO.
When the Enthusiast market demands absolute perfection in terms of mirroring the full aircraft.. it makes it very difficult for the Software people to answer the inevitable "What is the difference between the PRO software at 9,000eu and the Enthusiast version at 900eu??"
This is the tricky element.
Part of the struggle is the software folks building relationships with their customers and then really struggling to say "no" when someone pushes them on an item that they planned for the PRO version and not for the Enthusiast.
Might be a worthwhile disucussion here.
My thoughts and suggestions at least.
PC
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dcutugno



Joined: 17 May 2005
Posts: 60
Location: Italy

PostPosted: Fri Feb 13, 2009 4:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Peter, i asked this myself many times and posted the same question to some vendors,never got an exact reply in what they are different.

My thought is why developers not give us the same options of the PRO versions? The development of the software is already there so no more costs to add and all that they can get is a very good feedback and "beta testing" before they release an update for a PRO trainer.From my point of view i see only benefits for all three (PRO customer, Enthusiast and developers).
Another thing is the price... a PRO customer that use the sim for training/commercial can pay a lot more than a simple user 'cause the sim will be paid by itself (earn money), we can't!

Those are my point and i would like to see no difference other than support in the software versions!
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pcos
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Joined: 03 Nov 2003
Posts: 2260

PostPosted: Fri Feb 13, 2009 5:11 pm    Post subject: Comment Reply with quote

Quote:
One of of the conflicts/struggles the software people have is how to differentiate the Enthusiast Software from the PRO.
I can tell you for sure that the more PRO software they sell (at PRO prices) the better the pricing will be for the Enthusiast version.
The challenge is what needs to be different for the PRO.
When the Enthusiast market demands absolute perfection in terms of mirroring the full aircraft.. it makes it very difficult for the Software people to answer the inevitable "What is the difference between the PRO software at 9,000eu and the Enthusiast version at 900eu??"
This is the tricky element.
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Tomlin



Joined: 23 Aug 2004
Posts: 1008

PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2009 10:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My personal thoughts are that the software can easily be the same versions, but the key difference in price should be the service afforded to the pro customer. The pro sector requires much more time and effort to insure seamless integration, and therefore the support network will spend that time to insure that the product works as needed. However, the time comes at a costs. The great thing about software is that it's very easy to replicate an unlimited amount of times with no degradation to the quality of it. Therefore, it can be distributed to both enthusiasts and pro, but the issue of price difference can be delt with by the level of service recieved.
If this isnt satisfactory, then perhaps the software can be served to the buyer in levels of features, as suggested by PCos, but be a bit more graduated. Then the buyer decides what level of functionality they recieve for the price but it's hard to imagine too many functions to offer a pro customer that wouldnt be needed to the enthusiasts.Who knows? As Peter said, it is surely a tricky element.
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Eric Tomlin
Learjet 45

Waycross, Ga (KAYS)
www.Hangar45.net
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solarev



Joined: 23 Jul 2007
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2009 1:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Peter,

I will try to summarize my thoughts on this tricky subject, largely echoing other posters.

I think PRO version of software should be differentiated from Enthusiast market based on:

(a) software use (commercial vs. non-commercial)
(b) level of implementation and after-sale support
(c) certification to log sim time

I think the first point is both straightforward and fair. The second point should also make sense. If a business is putting together a commercial product, especially one that would be used to log FTD/sim time, then the level of support by the vendor will have to not just be more intense but also very customized with likely on-site installation/calibration, etc. Finally, I am not an expert of the various government certification requirements but it seems like a key differentiating factor in the Pro/Enthusiast debate.

This leads me to conclude that whereas some highly advanced features could be used to set the two markets apart, they should not be the sole (or major) basis to make this distinction.

Here is one more thought – it is time value of money. I am working on an A320 project. I have not invested in a major way in hardware until I am satisfied with the software (at least this is one of two crucial factors). I am not aware of a vendor which currently has a mature off-the-shelf package that would provide robust features and functionalities for this aircraft. If there was one, I could definitely see a situation whereby the vendor would have a list of features for every version of the package – from basic to Pro. And if I chose to pay premium for a Pro version I would not be expected to join the ranks of de-facto developers for years to come.

The reality today is that we (most of us) are not just customers – we are more like investors or business partners. We pay a reasonable amount of money upfront and then for several years debug the software and work with the vendor to get the features which would allow us to call this software package somewhat complete. And this approach is fine with me – it is a trade off between getting something affordable up front and then paying the rest by investing our own time in the development. Again, we do pay – with our time. Therefore, it would not be fine with me if the the vendor at some point of software maturity coming to the old “customers” and saying that now we have to upgrade to PRO version to get, for example, robust FBW functionality. Relatively new companies on the scene should recognize the time value of their long-term customers.

We, on the other hand, as enthusiast customers/investors are very interested in the vendors ability to survive and prosper over time, and therefore we have a vested interest in them getting their software to the level that would make it attractive to the commercial-use “Pro” customers where they can earn a great deal more for basically the same software.

Ilya
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melnato



Joined: 04 Feb 2006
Posts: 1087
Location: Australia

PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2009 5:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am personally happy with the current set-up of most software vendors.

If you use the software commercially and for profit, then you would expect to pay a premium.

I don't believe private users should have to pay the FULL commercial licence value to get the full functionality.
That is, there is too much of a gap between private license and commercial, eg $1000 vs $9000.

Maybe there should be another tier in between for private users to have full functionality, at a price somewhere in between...

Nat
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