Axel Grude axel.grude at
Mon May 1 22:58:13 UTC 2017

> *Subject:*Re: Donations
> *From:*Ben Bucksch <ben.bucksch at>
> *To:*Tb-planning
> *Sent: *Monday, 01/05/2017 21:22:30 21:22 GMT ST +0100 [Week 18]
> Axel Grude wrote on 01.05.2017 21:19:
>> Postbox has recently switched to a lifetime license (but only for version 5) for 
>> less. While I think that there are quite a few users who would accept this sort of 
>> payment I would bet you would also find many more supporting Thunderbird with10$ or 
>> 5$ / year.
> Quite possible. The user would be able to choose how much to donate. This is just a 
> suggestion.
> Which suggestions work best is something we need to find out, by testing.
>> As  one of the few Addon authors who monetises
> Which addon is that? And what are your personal experiences?

This is QuickFolders and the experience was overall very positive (except for one 
nightmare user [*]). License adoption is good, and I have a license renewal that is 
cheaper; even sold a few domain licenses. I have to say this is on the back of a very 
generous community of donators, so I knew that people were already interested in 
supporting the value that the Addon gave them. I have been selling licenses for about 
2 years now

My ideas to make the idea of Addon specific monetization more acceptable were these:

  * I wanted to make sure that I kept developing the Addon, keeping it in sync with
    the Thunderbird changes and pushing functions forward
  * I kept releasing a free (as in beer) version and made sure it wasn't seriously
    lacking in functionality
  * The licensed "premium" version has some added functions, and keyboard shortcuts
    for some functions (such as quickjump)
  * I wanted to "give back" to those users who gave donations anyway (and thus
    financed everyone else)

I think (at least from a XPCOM-based Addons) these points are all good and have to be 
communicated in some form in order to motivate for some cash to change hands. Whether 
this can be applied to a whole App that has been "free as in beer" for many years is 
obviously debatable. Also, I do give free personal email support to all users who 
reach out to me, so I have written hundreds of often highly descriptive emails and 
made a fairly comprehensive support site; without this ongoing effort I would not have 
considered monetization. I think end-user *engagement *is super important in Software 
- I think this should be discussed in greater detail regarding Thunderbird as well as 
part of the monetization debate.

The technical side was quite difficult as I wanted a "client-only" verification 
without any server callbacks, all the while staying 100% open source. Kent James gave 
me some ideas and then I had to implement my own decryption algorithm - an encryption 
library built into Thunderbird would be very helpful for this purpose. The premium 
functions are all built into the standard Addon and are merely activated, so no 
additional downloads / installations are necessary.

I am currently planning to also monetize the next big version of quickFilters in the 
same way; biggest problem as always is the initial price point, definitely lower than 
QuickFolders as it has a narrower, more focused approach. Picking the price is 
probably the hardest decision, ideally you want this to be completely at the 
consumer's digression, but that may not be wise with a limited amount of users (27k QF 
/ 15k qF) - the better strategy is to pick a slightly higher price and then offer 
special sales for people with limited budgets, but that's a lot of work.

That's all I can think of right now, I gladly answer any specific questions!


[*]... who demanded that I change my licensing mechanism to detect per computer 
instead of based on email; it's a long story - he wanted to use the addon on the same 
Computer with his wife's profile on a different program (Postbox) - I offered a second 
free license and even put in a technical workaround to add a secondary email address, 
but they were very adament that it should be possible to check the global registry

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