Monday, February 20, 2012

Reflection on Tucows: What it once was, what it has become

Tucows was perhaps the original download site. It existed back in the BBS days and migrated to the internet as, for a while, *the* premium source to obtain downloads.

Indeed, Tucows was full aware of their elite status in the market, and imposed a set of guidelines developers *must* adhere to in order to be listed. They also implemented new pricing. Free listings take a while for them to get to, but paid listings get sped up the queue. That was the idea, anyway. Of course, they've also always been ad supplemented (as far as I know).

I remember one of my free listings submitted there being rejected because, at that time, one of their recommendations was that the installer *must* have a 'repair' option. I never cared for 'repair', so didn't add it. These days, Windows Vista and above doesn't even encourage it, with a straight install or uninstall listed in Programs and Features. None-the-less, these were the days of XP, and the listing was denied due to this requirement. I once complained on a shareware developer mailing list, but the only response I got was 'Well, did you make the changes they requested?'. Umm, no, because it isn't their mandate to enforce such absurd requirements.

Granted, some requirements were in the best interest of the user, but most were just personal preferences. They certainly haven't disallowed bundles to my knowledge, so clearly user protection isn't their primary intent. Heck, downloads are hardly their primary business these days.

In fact, the complete list on their home page is:

Tucows is (as listed on their home page) -
  • OpenSRS
    OpenSRS manages domain names, email addresses, digital security products and web publishing tools for millions of end users worldwide "
  • Hover
    "Hover makes it easy to buy, manage and use domain names and email addresses. "
  • YummyNames 
    "YummyNames helps startups, retailers, publishers, marketers and entrepreneurs get the perfect domain name."
  • Butterscotch 
    "We offer thousands of video tutorials, webisodes, news reports, reviews and “top ten” lists to teach you about the emerging world of mobile technology. "
  • Playtpus 
    "Platypus is a PA-DSS compliant billing application that handles subscriber management, billing, and provisioning for Internet service providers (ISPs). "
  • Ting
    "Ting has a mission to offer mobile phone service that makes sense."

That's great, 6 different primary services under distinct brand names. Maybe there is overlap, I don't know. All I know is it sure seems complex. More like 6 different businesses under one banner, which is what I suppose it is.

So, where did the download service even go in all this mess? Well, it is still around, somewhere. It is hardly mentioned on the main page, presented as an ancillary link. However, whatever Tucows once was, it no longer is. This is *very* old news though. I just wanted to publicly comment on the rise and change of Tucows. I won't say rise and fall, as I don't know their status, but as measured by the freeware and shareware download community - it certainly is a fall.

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