Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Something Nice

I don't like that most of my blog posts have a negative tone. I'd like to balance that by talking a bit about something that was really cool. Let me wax lyrically about MacHeist.

After buying the last MacHeist bundle a year ago, I got put on the MacHeist mailing list. As a result, I was able to participate in the missions that they've been putting out for the past few months. Between the free apps I got from completing the missions, the apps in the actual heist, referring 2 friends, and tweeting once, I managed to score 40 apps worth a theoretical value of almost $1700. It cost me $33 (I got a $6 discount by completing in the missions), and a few hours of my time. Let me go into a little more detail about the whole thing.

In order to drum up support, the MacHeist team starts by putting out challenges for several months before the actual sale. In order to solve these riddles, you need to do a little internet sleuthing. This year, they got the cooperation of Veronica Belmont, Lisa Bettany, and Chris Pirillo. People work hard to figure them out but, if you're lazy, you can just follow the walkthroughs that people post. I usually do about 50/50 - working on the challenge until I'm out of ideas, then go read what smarter people than me wrote. By doing this, I got $541 of software (and a $6 off rebate on the actual bundle) for just a few hours of time. Lisa Bettany also starred in a handful of mission briefings as Sophia, the Eastern European secret agent trying to save the world from time glitches. A little campy, but entertaining nonetheless.

Of course, there's also the heist itself. The whole bundle was introduced this year in a 90ish minute live streaming show with an overview of every app. They started this one by selling 8 apps for $39. From each sale, 25% of all sales go to charity. When they reach certain charity milestones, they add more apps. This year, there were 3 milestones. The last was $500,000 for charity, and that unlocked the final 2 apps. It was a little scary this year, because sales stagnated after a couple of days. The last two apps, one of which was Espresso, were still locked. Fortunately, there was a last-minute sales frenzy, and now they're waaay over their final unlock milestone. To try to incentivize people who were sitting on the fence, they added two more apps during the sale, for a total of 14.

Since Twitter is popular with the kids these days, MacHeist took the opportunity to reach tons of people by hyjacking the social experience. If you were willing to tweet a short message to get the word out about MacHeist, they gave you two more applications. Was I just helping The Man by giving free advertising? No! I wanted other people to have the chance to get these apps. This is the tweet they asked me to post:

I bought the @MacHeist 3 Bundle. 12 Top Mac apps worth $900+ for just $39 AND I just got Delicious Library 2 FREE!
That's not too bad!

Finally, I managed to refer two of my friends to the sale, and I got an additional 2 apps from that.

Now, I realize that I didn't actually get $1700 of worth from this bundle. I will probably never even start some of these apps. However, if you can find even 2 apps that you want, this deal makes sense. In my case, I had my eye on several of these apps for a while, and just never got around to buying them. Also, keep in mind that a big pile of them were totally free. I could have walked away with a bunch of software for just a few hours of puzzle solving (or walkthrough-reading). This sale always amazes me. Past sales have included Delicious Library 1, TextMate, CSSEdit, PixelMator, and other great apps. Good job, MacHeist.

Bundle apps

Apps for completing missions (these only took a few hours to get, but were only available for a limited time)

Apps for tweeting about the bundle (only available after buying the bundle)

Apps for referring others (only available after buying the bundle)

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