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News, How-tos, and assorted Views on Accordance Bible Software.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007  

"Low Cost" Bible Software

Two years ago, when a Windows Bible software developer released a version of their software for Macintosh, I naturally purchased a copy in order to see what we had to fear from the new competition. While this program did a few things reasonably well, had a nice brushed-metal look, and offered some modern Bibles and reference works, it was otherwise everything I expected a Windows port to be: limited, clunky, and awkward to use. The unexpected side effect of buying this program was that I began receiving weekly e-mail offers, usually for their PC products!

Anyway, a few days ago I got an e-mail notice that was actually of interest: apparently their Mac product has now been upgraded. I dutifully went to their web-site to see what was added in an upgrade which has presumably been in development for the past two years. All I saw was a list of six items which struck me as reasonable improvements, but which absolutely paled in comparison to all the new features added in the last major upgrade to Accordance (not to mention the various free updates which followed it!).

Now, this competing Mac program (along with its corresponding Windows version) has always been billed as low-cost Bible study software, so perhaps it's unreasonable to expect its upgrades to be equivalent to those of Accordance. The cost for this upgrade? $29.95 to upgrade the base package, and $49.95 to upgrade the mid-level and top-level packages. Presumably, the additional twenty dollars to upgrade the upper-level packages is due to new material which has been added to these packages. I could see nothing which indicated which modules were new, but by comparing the modules I have with the modules listed in the new package, I found a half-dozen new modules in the mid-level package.

Now, we've never made the claim that Accordance is the low-cost leader in Bible software. We do try to keep our prices competitive, but we also believe that it's not unreasonable to charge for the features and modules we develop. How much do we charge to upgrade the Accordance program without adding any new modules? Twenty-nine dollars even. That's a much more substantial upgrade than you get with the other guys for nearly a dollar less! Even better, you can download the upgrade for the Accordance application without being forced to order a new CD-ROM and pay for new modules you may not want.

I realize that most of the readers of this blog have no objections to our upgrade prices, and price comparisons are not nearly as exciting as tips for how to use Accordance more effectively. Still, I think it helps to reinforce the fact that so-called "low-cost" Bible programs don't necessarily offer better value than you get with Accordance. Heck, sometimes they don't even offer lower prices!





Comments:
Though I am a big supporter of Accordance software, I found this blog entry to be distasteful. Of course I can expect Bible software companies to keep an eye on other offerings in the market, but to comment about them in an official blog seems inappropriate. I must be reading between the lines, but "so-called" is an obvious slight. "Limited, clunky, and awkward to use" is as well. I expected more.
 

Garrett,

I'm sorry you found this blog post to be out of line. My intention was not to slight a competitor, but to give an honest comparison. That's one reason I did not name the other Bible program or include any links to their web-site. Admittedly, I gave enough information that anyone familiar with this program would know which one I was referring to, but I did try to remain as vague as possible.

I can see how referring to "so-called 'low-cost' Bible programs" might be taken as a "slight," but it was honestly not intended to be. I was actually generalizing at that point to make the point that programs which position themselves as inexpensive are not necessarily always the most affordable solution.

Calling this other program "limited, clunky, and awkward to use" is obviously less defensible. All I can say is that it was not just my opinion, but the general consensus of reviewers at the time the program was released. I mentioned this program's interface shortcomings not to be vindictive or insulting, but because the interface advantages of Accordance need to be considered when assessing the relative value of the two programs.

Again, my point in making these comparisons was not to be ugly, but to equip our users to spread the word that Accordance is not merely the most powerful Bible software available for the Mac; it is also a great value.
 

David,
I must, respectfully, disagree with Garrett. I don't find an honest opinion distasteful at all. I find your candid comments quite refreshing actually. Accordance is a great product and should be lauded appropriately. Thank you for being honest.
 

This post has been removed by the author.
 

David,
I have to agree with your accessment, overall. I purchased the original mac version of your competitor's program and returned it because it didn't do what it was originally advertised to do on their web page. When I pointed it out to their tech support, they simply adjusted the webpage.

But because I am a Bible software junkie, I just purchased the new version and although it has some useful features like adding PDF's to your library, I don't believe it is in the same class as Accordance, I am not new to your competitors products, I've been using them since their version 2.0 DOS product on an old 8088XT Turbo 8mhz computer with 256K of ram on an amber monitor.

However, it's Mac product still hasn't fixed a limitation, (which doesn't exist in their windows version), in it's copy citation feature from the original mac version which was pointed out to them. You folks however responded relatively quickly by giving us a great and very flexible copy citation feature!

However, one advantage they may have is that their entry level product is available in the Apple Retail Stores.
 

I can understand that 'low cost' t'isn't always as it says, and the cost of upgrades is a factor I examine when considering software for my Mac.

My concern is that Accordance seems to make it too complex of a decision when deciding where to start with Accordance. I was first introduced to Accordance several years ago via a CDROM (promo, I think) I bought at a local Hasting's store, and it was back in the Mac OS 8.x (or 9) days.

Later, I wanted to upgrade when I went to Mac OS X, but found there was no simple way to do that - Accordance has multiple configurations, and no clear comparison page that I can utilize to decide which version to purchase (I am now too many versions behind to qualify for an upgrade). Instead, Accordance's website descriptions leave me feeling as if I am dealing with the cable company. That is, I get a whole bunch of stuff that I really don't think I want (and may not even need), to get the specific modules (think channels in the cable world) that I want.

I'd like to see Accordance provide simpler choices for the person who - in terms of familiarity with the current Accordance options - is basically a newcomer (but still wanting clear info for making my decision). Let's clear the fog, Accordance - it would benefit both your sales and your customers (IMHO).
 

Jim
We do try to direct people to select a primary collection and then add whatever other materials they need to it. It is very difficult to make the website easy for all to navigate, but we will try to improve it. I would prefer to continue this conversation by email rather than as comments on a two month old blog post.
 

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