A puppy? Wearing a condom? The war in Iraq? NO! TurboTax’s anti-piracy feature:
- Intuit announced Wednesday that its top-selling TurboTax software will dump an unpopular anti-piracy feature that turned out to be more trouble than it was worth.
The Mountain View company disclosed its change of heart with the release of earnings for the three months ended April 30.
Although the company’s sales and earnings for the period surged from last year, the improvement wasn’t as dramatic as Intuit promised investors three months ago.
Management said its projections were undercut by a sluggish economy, the Iraq war and a frosty response to TurboTax’s new anti-piracy feature, called “product activation.”
The feature depended upon an activation code that essentially tied the software to a single computer to prevent buyers from lending TurboTax to people who hadn’t paid to use it.
The code allowed customers to use TurboTax on other computers, but all printing and electronic filing of tax returns had to be done from the computer where the software was first launched.
Intuit believed the feature would be a sales catalyst by forcing consumers who had illegally used TurboTax in the past to buy copies this year.
The feature instead triggered a customer backlash.
In often scathing criticisms posted online, consumers fretted about their ability to access their 2002 returns in future years, wondered whether the feature would give Intuit access to their computers and railed against the company’s technical support. [AP]
So, what have we learned today? That people want to be able to do what they want with what they purchase, including making personal copies, moving from one device to another, or having sex with it in the middle of the street if they damn well fell like it.
Listen, learn, and heed. You can’t put it any more plainly than Kevin Marks does: DRM (digital rights management, ie, copy-protection, usage restrictions) destroys value. Period.