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Xamarin's Disappointing Business Model

ShawnShaddockShawnShaddock USMember

Hi, I am a member of 3 development teams, all of which will never use Xamarin.

The first one is my full time job at a medium sized development company. We have 5 developers, so to target iOS, Android, and WP8 it would cost us $15,000 per year. Management would never approve an expense like this. Even if native development would cost us more time, they would still rather maintain and learn native code bases then feel robbed of $15,000 / year.

The second is a side project with some friends. We are interested in targeting iOS and Android, but we need to use WCF. Too bad you need the Business edition to use WCF, so me and my group of 2 friends who have no income or funding are expected to pay $6,000 per year. Even if we saw value in this, it is not financially possible for us, so we will do native development also.

The third is my solo development. Again I am interested in what Xamarin is doing, but I also would want to use WCF. This leave me personally paying $2,000 per year to target iOS and Android, again unacceptable and I will be learning native development and never using Xamarin.

I don't know who came up with this pricing but it's ass backwards. Change your pricing to scale with size, not limit features, because even small teams and projects can use features like WCF and SQL.

I was excited to hear that Xamarin would keep Mono alive, now I'm just sad to see such a great open source project go to shit and attempt to gouge it's clients.


  • DavidTavarezDavidTavarez DOMember ✭✭✭

    Well, my friend. I'm not sure why you're complaining. Maybe it could be a little bit expensive. In my case, I'm from Dominican Republic; I'm guess you know my country is a very small and poor country but I decided to invest time, effort and money on Xamarin to improve the quality of my apps and and reduce the development time... in few months I have to say, it worth every penny.

    I think if we improved our revenue working from a third-world country, I guess your team can also. The market is there, just focus on it.

    That's my opinion.

    Saludos :)

  • DaveHuntDaveHunt USMember ✭✭✭✭✭

    I would add that there are a number of alternatives to WCF and System.Data.SqlClient for web services and database access. While you may not particularly like those alternatives, those are the kinds of decisions you have to make when looking to do something for little or no money.

  • JasonAwbreyJasonAwbrey USInsider, University, Developer Group Leader mod

    Royalty free licensing for dev tools is pretty standard. "Scaling with size" sounds good but is a PITA to implement and administer. You may not like their pricing tiers, but to say their entire business model is bad is a far stretch.

    Mono itself is alive and well and still free and open source.

  • SKallSKall USMember ✭✭✭✭

    WP8 development has nothing to do with Xamarin, the cost is on VS2012 license. For the rest of the fees you would get a volume discount.

    Overall the license cost for a business is a drop in the bucket. Annually $1000 for a software license is less than 1% of a developer salary. Well worth the money if it speeds up development.

  • NicWiseNicWise NZMember, Insider, Beta mod


    Could I suggest you look at using ServiceStack over WCF (it's a lot better, for a start, and works in a sane manner), not to mention it'll save you $15k :)

    And, for 5 devs, you can still use Indy I think (check the licenses)

  • SKallSKall USMember ✭✭✭✭

    @nicwise, I do believe the license is for companies with 5 or less employees, not Xamarin developers.

  • NicWiseNicWise NZMember, Insider, Beta mod

    @samiMkallio I think you may need to ask Xamarin Sales about it.

    My understanding, and I could be wrong, is that it can be used for small companies, up to 5 developers. This is the same limitation as MSDN BizSpark (5 MSDN licenses).

    If you work for a company with 1000 staff, but only 2 devs, get Pro.
    If you work for a company with 5 staff, all of whom are developers, you should be able to get Indy.

    Thats my understanding from talking to the Xamarin guys, but check with the sales people (they are nice, really!) for the definitive answer.

    Obviously, you still need to buy Indy for each developer! And it's licensed to each developer, not the company as a whole (not sure how that works if someone leaves, but hey, thats why I dont work in sales!)

  • RobertSalitaRobertSalita USMember ✭✭

    I'd like to use Xamarin at Hackathons. That's a great way for others to learn about Xamarin. Unfortunately, with the free version's limitations, it's a potential obstacle. We have to use other Hackathon friendly choices. I wish there was a Hackathon friendly license, such as a two week expiration while allowing greater program sizes.

  • JasonAwbreyJasonAwbrey USInsider, University, Developer Group Leader mod

    Why not use the 30 day free trial for Hackathon?

  • RobertSalitaRobertSalita USMember ✭✭

    I'm assuming the free trial is not repeatable, right? I need something repeatable. Hackathons, I'm talk'in the major corporate sponsered events, are every month or so. Everyone on the team has to agree on the dev platform. C# is a good choice. Anything Internet based is problematic as there's no assurance of bandwidth when needed so PhoneGap Build is risky. Xamarin uptake at Hackathons is being blocked by licensing and corporate hackers are exactly the people you want to have your product exposed to. Perhaps a solution is to hand out Hackathon licenses directly to event organizers.

  • JasonAwbreyJasonAwbrey USInsider, University, Developer Group Leader mod

    Contact the sales team - they may be open to working something out with you

  • KarlWaclawekKarlWaclawek CAMember ✭✭

    For a corporate IT department, Xamarin's price is not too high.
    If the manager think that, then he/she is poor at math. Just do the calculations: development time savings and product quality improvements vs the cost of a developer. One developer salary is worth at least 30 Enterprise licenses, usually more.
    So, if 30 developers save only about 3% in time and quality, you are already even.

    For an indie developer, the Business edition is too expensive, I agree.

  • AdrianPAdrianP USMember

    Don't worry Shawn, you are not alone. Came to pull the trigger and my jaw dropped when I saw the price increase. That's just nuts. I understand the need to increase their revenue with all the investments they have taken, but that's just greed and incompetence if the best they could come up with turned out to be a royal screwing of small/independent developers.

  • JasonAwbreyJasonAwbrey USInsider, University, Developer Group Leader mod

    Prior to the 2.0 release in February, the cheapest license was $399.

    Now there is a free tier as well as a $299 tier.

    How is that a "jaw-dropping" price increase?

  • AdrianPAdrianP USMember

    Because the allure of Xamarin was that you could code in C# AND use Visual Studio. Now in order to use Visual Studio the cheapest option is $999. Don't get delusional and think they've given us anything with the free and lower tier. That's just a marketing gimmick to draw the focus away from the fact that they jacked all to hell the price of their hot feature which is VS integration.

  • AlexWhiteAlexWhite GBMember ✭✭✭

    Totally disagree, you buy and use the features you need, I had the old licence that allowed me to upgrade to the business licence for the old price, I did not need VS integration so dropped down to the indie licence which does everything I need except for one thing heapshot but I can live without it, so for me I am paying $100 less and able to write all the apps I need to. I think they have the pricing about right, you get what you pay for in this world, cheap products are exactly that, cheap.

    buy cheap buy twice.



  • SmartyPSmartyP USInsider, University ✭✭

    Makes me glad I don't use WCF for anything ;) I'm using for all my backend work lately and am loving it so far.

  • JasonJensenJasonJensen USUniversity

    I don't know if I am going to get slapped for saying this, but you could enroll in a college or trade school and qualify for the $99 business license. Sure you don't get support but you get the great products and this forum. That's what I did. (Well, I was already enrolled but you get the idea.) Cause I could have NEVER afforded Xamarin without this VERY GENEROUS option.

    I also don't know if Xamarin would frown on this if you did it in a business context. My guess is that they WOULD. You should probably talk to them about it first.

    Thanks Xamarin! So far, despite a few problems I have managed to work out on my own, the product is great!

  • voidvoid DKBeta ✭✭✭

    I would say this; There ought to be an "Indie Pro" tier where you could buy all platforms at a substantial discount, get email support, and business features.

    This could come at a 999 USD price.

    It would be for those of us that does not use VS, that do not work inside enterprises, that really like Xamarin Studio, and who subscribe to the heavy cross platform preachings of Xamarin.

  • WhitneyLandWhitneyLand USMember
    edited August 2013

    There are lots of important factors to consider on whether to use Xamarin but honestly I have no complaints about the pricing.

    On the contrary, you could ask what new features would be lost if they lowered their revenue by $X dollars.

    For a company like Apple it makes sense have a $99 developer program because they have more important revenue streams. But for a tool vendor the amount you pay is their life blood. Also IIRC Xamarin didn't get some massive VC cash infusion like did.

    The amount of work, investment, and risk that going into creating an entire platform like this is breathtaking once you drill down into the details.

    I think what we can reasonable ask for is for Xamarin to be the absolute king of developer productivity, and give us the best deal they can along the way.

  • LogieUrquhartLogieUrquhart GBMember

    I think that it's pretty obvious that Xamarin are not interested in fostering a take up of their development system by single developers, they are more interested in the "big fish" and have set their pricing accordingly.

    It's a shame.. charging a lower entry point for the indie level means more people take up xamarin, and in the long run recommend xamarin to their colleges/fulltime businesses, and xamarin sell more "big fish" licences.

    See the csharp and androiddev subedits on reddit.. every single time, the barrier to take up is price... with android (for example) taking up 50%+ of the smartphone OS, you'd think that Xamarin would want to be the first choice to the question of "what should we use to write our app in?"

  • MichaelBothMichaelBoth AUMember ✭✭✭

    This person posting above (KinetiseDev) spammed me via private message on these forums, and I'd suggest nothing would be lost by banning this account.

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