Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Windows for 50 cents

CIO Insight has this story on software piracy in China.

From the article:

[…]
Vendors pushing wheelbarrows piled with CDs offer Windows 98, 2000 and XP for as little as 4 yuan—just 50 cents. A slightly higher-quality product is available from tiny, hole-in-the wall storefronts. There, a copy of the software still in its original packaging—or what looks like original packaging – is available for 18 yuan, or $2.25. Still a bargain.

"I want more Chinese to use the software and to get to know the advanced technology of the United States," explained the salesman.
[…]
The BSA estimates that 90 percent of all software sold in China is pirated. That translates to more than $3.5 billion in lost revenues for the software makers. Only one country, the United States, is ahead of China when it comes to lost revenues.
[…]
Stores sell fake goods "with seemingly no fear of meaningful legal or pecuniary penalties," the report said. Raids and awareness campaigns merely interrupt the practice. "This recidivism creates the impression that Chinese national leadership lacks the will to stop counterfeiting and piracy."
[…]
"People go home early," said Shanghai-based psychologist Glen Blair. Blair's said he's seen Western families burnt out by pirates leave on a day's notice. Armed with ideas and idealism businessmen feel betrayed by the Chinese they think they have come to manage, he said.

Others adjust. Some, by going over the dark side. Even foreign CEOs can be found who have loaded up on cheap pirated software.

"When I need new software in China, I go any of the cybermarts and at first they claim they don't have it, then after a while, they always say they do," said a Western businessman in Shanghai who produces custom manufactured goods and exports it to the West.

End quote

Can you imagine how execs at MSFT must feel everytime they think about this?