Companies are lazy to do their research to find cheaper software solutions, an official told this newspaper. Roland Chan, Senior Director Marketing, Asia Pacific, Business Software Alliance (BSA), gave this reply to this reporter, when it was suggested that price controls may be an effective mechanism to be utilized to ensure that software products are available to the end user at a reasonable price.
“Nowhere in the world is price control effected on software products,” said Chan. That will kill innovation of local software companies per se, he claimed.
Chang however said that cheaper software products are available, from the Chinese for example, which are legitimate software. Therefore companies need not go for the more expensive Microsoft Office version which may have additional features which however are of no use to the end user, he said.
But companies are lazy to search for cheaper alternatives, claimed Chan.
The need for compliance, of buying genuine software products was one of the issues raised at a seminar on intellectual property rights that was held in Colombo on Wednesday where Chan was one of the resource persons.
He told participants that there are 50,000 software developers worldwide.
Rohan Muttiah, Chief Information Officer Commercial Bank of Ceylon PLC told this reporter that software licensing per user may cost firms anything between Rs. 30-200,000.
When this reporter asked Dr. D.M. Karunaratne, Director General National Intellectual Property Office, whether there was a possibility of imposing price controls on imported software, similar to the controls exercised by TRC in regard to telecoms rates and the Consumer Affairs Authority on essential commodities to ensure that the consumer gets a fair price, he said that that ambit does not come under his purview.
Software piracy is an offence, carrying a fine of Rs. 500,000 and a jail sentence.
BSA is an organization set-up to protect the interests of the software industry. Organisations such as Microsoft count among its members. The seminar was organized by the American Chamber of Commerce in Sri Lanka.
Cheap Things No Good
A software industry consumer squashed the allegation that it was laziness that precluded them from seeking cheaper software alternatives as opposed to them investing in more expensive but well known software solutions from the market.
Rohan Muttiah, Chief Information Officer Commercial Bank of Ceylon PLC told this reporter that experience has shown that there are issues of compatibility when communicating with overseas clients that sometimes crop up when the software used by both of the parties are not one and the same.
He further said that when transacting business with foreign clients, there was also the danger of losing the client if he got to know that one was using software that was not well known in the market.
“Show,” whether one likes it or not is important in international commerce, he said.
Muttiah was opposed to price controls to ensure that software products were affordable to the consumer. “But if a principal has a larger footprint in a market, then pricing is an issue,” he said.
“Affordability not only lessens the cost of doing business, but also encourages compliance, then it’s a ‘win win’ situation for the principal, the reseller and the client,” said Muttiah.