Mac Bundle Battle Royale

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Pitting two great software bundles head-to-head in CultofMac cage match? What the heck, we have to do something to amuse ourselves until WWDC

Mac users this week are presented with two choices for bundles of shareware. The MacHiest bundle that includes 12 titles, bundled together for $49, and the MacUpdate promo that includes 10 titles for $64.99 (albeit 3 of them are locked until they reach specific sales numbers).

We get under the covers of these bundles to see which are worth your hard-earned duckets.

The MacUpdate Promo
The draw here is that it bundles in Parallels Desktop, which alone is worth the price of the bundle. The trick here though is that three of the 10 bundled apps are locked until MacUpdate reaches certain sales numbers.

That’s right, no SoundStudio, no BannerZest, and yes, no Parallels until they unpublished sales milestones (the milestone for SoundStudio is 5000 units, the milestones for BannerZest and Parallels are not published (the previously reported mile stones of 10K and 15K were an error)).

Personally, I admire MacUpdate’s innovative strategy here, unlocking by tiers as well as the fear of loss (only 10 days left) marketing, are exceptionally clever. Their assertion that they sold 27000 units last year, and will certainly hit all three tiers aside, the question remains: is there anything here worth nearly seventy bucks, other than Parallels (which you may not get).

Based on our “hands off” (reading reviews and Google) research, StoryMill looks nice, but not so much as Scrivener, DVDRemaster Pro is a handy little utility if you’re into making compressed single layer copies of your dual layer DVD movies (although you’ll still need a DVD Decryptor). I’m perplexed as to what SoundStudio (needs 5000 sales to unlock) does that the GarageBand can’t for free (before I get flamed, I understand that there is some difference, I just find it hard to reconcile that if someone absolutely needed the added features why they wouldn’t just get Logic Express).

Frankly, the rest of the applications in the bundle seem like filler, they automate things that are perfectly easy to do with Leopard, or have counterparts that are free.

The MacHeist Bundle
My admiration for previous bundle’s clever marketing aside, the no-nonsense licensing approach of the MacHeist bundle appeals just as much as it’s very reasonable $49.00 price-point. Their only gimmick: The fact that they give a significant amount of money away to charity, also appeals. All of that said: is there anything to this bundle that’s worth sacrificing a couple of cases worth of beer money?

Short answer: yes.

Nanosaur 2 looks to be a spectacularly fun game, if you’re a writer, WriteRoom plus any one of the other utilities or games is worth the price of admission, and just about anyone who owns a Mac could use iClip (dare I say Office for Windows has had this functionality forever). There’s a nice budgeting application, an iWallet for storing personal information, an most of the other utilities look to be of a nice quality and not just filler, I’m particularly interested in trying XSlimmer hands on.

The bottom line:
The MacHeist bundle looks to be a real starter. If you have use for even just a couple of the full featured applications in the package, it’s worth the money.

I’m not so convinced of MacUpdate’s. Of the apps you’re guaranteed to get: ArtText, DVDRemaster and StoryMill are the only ones that have any real legs. The rest seem to be just filler. Of course, if they reach their sales numbers and you can get both BannerZest and Parallels desktop for 64 bucks, It would be a nice deal. Otherwise, Parallels sells for $79.00 everywhere, and often for $10-25 with the purchase of a new Mac.

39 responses to “Mac Bundle Battle Royale”

  1. Gareth says:

    Ok your entitled to you opinion…But there is a huge drawback to the MacHeist bundle: it has already been released. Almost all of the apps, except the last two games, have been released in previous bundles. Also MacUpdate has added WhatSize to the bundle for early adopters, making it likely more hidden goodness will turn up.

  2. Jon says:

    Just be careful with Wallet guys n gals, I have had problems on two occasions and nearly lost all my data. I would recommend Steel or OnePassword.

    Hope this helps!

    Jon

  3. Phillip Ryu says:

    Hey, I just wanted to point out that the “innovative strategy” of unlocks you mention (and attribute to MacUpdate) was in fact ripped off by MacUpdate from our first sale back in December of 2006, as were many other elements of our bundle, including the same number of apps and price.

  4. Ben says:

    wow. nice comprehensive review, you’ve obviously done your research…you gloss some of the more useful apps in both bundles (leap, devonthink) – it ends up sounding like a glib piece of ad-copy rather than something that actually does a comparison.

  5. Craig says:

    “Personally, I admire MacUpdate’s innovative strategy here, unlocking by tiers as well as the fear of loss (only 10 days left) marketing, are exceptionally clever. “

    MacHeist did this first during their MacHeist I bundle… MacUpdate is only “borrowing” their idea.

  6. rampancy says:

    How is the unlock approach in the latest MacUpdate Promo bundle “innovative”? Just a scant few months before The Parallels Bundle, MacHeist II used an unlock system, and even gave you two more apps (Circus Ponies Notebook and LaunchBar) if you got people to buy through your referral links.

    Back in December 2007 there was another major MU Promo bundle which also had unlocks (which also ran up against bundle offers like MacSanta, and the “choose your own bundle” GiveGoodFoodToYourMac), and before that, in May 2007 MacUpdate and MecHeist collaborated on a bundle which not only had unlocks, but also had “hidden” bonuses if you were in the know and bought through MacHeist.

    And before that still, there was MacHeist I, which was the first and original execution of a massively hyped Mac shareware bundle with high desired unlockable applications.

  7. Carolyn Hayes says:

    The bundles serve very different purposes. The MU software is very useful, and the marketing tricks – mostly copied from earlier MacHeist bundles. The unlocking and bonus apps – we have seen before. But it is a great bundle.
    The MacHeist bundle is a ‘best of’ bundle – all of the apps were either in bundles previously or in the bonus apps. It is on sale all year, will eventually be sold in boxes, and is a great intro to some great Mac shareware. When MH3 happens – it will be all new apps again and will have the unlocking drama and bonus apps and loot for solving mysteries. MH has a community.
    Both are great but they are very different in their targets and style. While there is competition between the two Mac shareware sales outlets – there is room for both. What a great time for Mac users and developers!

  8. leigh says:

    @ben: I was going to do a full product head to head, but that doesn’t really fit with the cult’s format. We like short glib ad-copy pieces.

    @”the innovation” comments. Your clarification is noted. The tiered unlocking is pretty innovative regardless of who came up with it. Credit where its due: MacHeist came up with it first. I do hope they weren’t as downright deceptive in their print ads as MU was (I saw the MacILife ad after I wrote the articlen or I’d have mentioned their utter failure to mention the tiering in their print advertisements, which I do consider to be deceptive.

  9. Ryan says:

    Are you serious? You compare software without ever trying any of it? I bought both bundles and at the time had the ‘winners’ in mind. I now use the apps I had no interest in more than the ‘winners’ (Cha-ching…lame and buggy…moneywell is far better). Same for the MU bundle.

    You can’t determine how useful something is until you try it. Do you also do movie reviews by reading other people’s reviews? Thats about the level of thought you gave this. You should be embarrassed to have published this.

  10. Phil says:

    Wow how long did it take to do all the research for this article…. Really in depth?.. well maybe not!!!! Really accurate?.. not very is it!!!

    Both bundles are good, and both serve different markets. Macheist have said all along its a BEST OF bundle. and BTW DevonThink rocks…

    MUPromo also has some great apps you missed off. I mainly bought it for Hazel, Typinator and Leap..

  11. Phil says:

    Wow how long did it take to do all the research for this article…. Really in depth?.. well maybe not!!!! Really accurate?.. not very is it!!!

    Both bundles are good, and both serve different markets. Macheist have said all along its a BEST OF bundle. and BTW DevonThink rocks…

    MUPromo also has some great apps you missed off. I mainly bought it for Hazel, Typinator and Leap..

  12. Ryan says:

    My last comment was not published, I’m not sure why I assume it was because it was critical of your methodology. I’ll make my point less critically this time:

    I bought both bundles. I looked them over before and decided what I liked and what I didn’t. After using the apps for a time I found that the apps I bought it for often did not live up to expectations. Other apps I thought of as ‘filler’ I use daily.

    So you can’t simply look at them and decide how good they are. If you don’t use them you can’t possibly comment on their usefulness much less make any kind of assessment on the two bundles.

  13. macpug says:

    My editor would have canned me if I’d turned in a software review based on Google searches and the reviews of others! How can you possibly compare software like that?
    For example, I agree that Scrivener IS better than StoryMill, but I only know it and believe it because I actually tried them both!!! I’m still shaking my head in disbelief that you think it’s ok to do a “head-to-head” comparison this way.

  14. Adrian says:

    DVDRemaster can create h264 rips of DVDs and comes with fairmount (which is open source and free) that can mount encrypted dvds as though they were unencrypted.

    It uses the magic of VLC to achieve this

  15. Roger D. Parish says:

    We get under the covers of these bundles to see which are worth your hard-earned duckets.

    I think you meant “ducats”, from the Italian ducato.

  16. K Sawyer says:

    I don’t really consider Nanosaur 2 to be a “get” simply because it came on my mac for free (g4 ibook). So basically people are getting a 3 year old freebie.

    Still, the macheist one turns my crank more.

  17. leigh says:

    As I’ve said before, we don’t really have the format for an indepth review. So I chose to do the same type of comparison a consumer would do before purchasing the bundles: I looked at at the products features at face value and other people’s reviews. What’s more I was 100% up front about that.

    What I would be interested in is if anyone disagrees with my summation?

    IS there anything in the MacUpdate bundle worth 65 bucks, if you don’t get parallels?

  18. B K Ray says:

    I have bought the 2 MacHeist bundles and The MacUpdate bundle, I like them all. I had the hardest time getting Wingnuts when it was released and even now, I can not get it to run. Unfortunately, MacHeist seems to have lost all my registration info (but I still get their emails, hmmmm…). Adding WhatSize to the early adopters as a surpise app was pretty cool and it is a nice app. I like that I get to really use the software, and pay for it to find out whether ot not it is something I will use, while supporting the programming community

    What I did not like about the MacHeist bundles was that bot all the registration came at once, (nor did it in the MacUpdate), but it is all kept in one accessible place which is cool for instance Leap registration info did not come in the receipt email, nor was thw email sent, but when I logged into the website I was able to get the registration info. And the aps are pretty decent. ANd MacUpdate had nice little vids from the programmers, which was pretty cool too.

    I will continue to support both, but I am enjoying the MacUpdate process better (and you get their service for an additional $9 instead of $20).

  19. leigh says:

    update: Parallels and BannerZest are both unlocked on the MacUpdate promo, making it a pretty darn good deal indeed, now.

    Unfortunately I’m unable to update the main post.

    Thanks

    Leigh.

  20. Neil Anderson says:

    Great deal with Parallels.