Freebies and price history

Here’s an odd little story…


My wife’s working on a two-volume family history–more specifically, doing touchup work on old pictures and maps to include in the books.

She tried GIMP. Hated it. (I just find it incomprehensible.) So…well, I had an 11-year-old copy of Corel Photo (8, I think); it came with Corel Ventura. Amazingly, it loaded under Vista (although there’s no help, since it uses a Windows Help file, which Windows has since abandoned)–and runs just fine. She’s been getting good results from it, but I do keep thinking…well, geez, it’s 11 years old, there’s no help, and there must have been a lot of progress since then. And at one point, she accidentally saved a modified picture over the original; the program didn’t ask for confirmation.

But we’re also on a budget…and she was reluctant to spend $80-$90 for Adobe Photo Elements or Corel Paint Shop Pro, which I’ve been led to believe are the two appropriate products on today’s market.

Last week, Best Buy had Corel Paint Shop Pro X2 on sale for $49. We talked about it. I bought it. (She hasn’t loaded it yet…you know how it is when you’re working on a project… But she will. I’m sure it will offer more help; I suspect it will be a lot easier to use; I hope it will be more powerful–but PhotoPaint was a pretty good program for its time.)


But that’s just background. The package itself had three interesting characteristics:

  • There’s actually a user manual–a paperback book, and a decent sized one.
  • Although the box says “CD” and the system requirements panel mostly talks about RAM and hard drive space, the software doesn’t come on a CD: It comes on a DVD. Fortunately, both of our notebooks have DVD players (and burners, actually)–but is it really a safe assumption that every PC these days has a DVD drive?
  • Included in the box as a free extra: A Corel-branded 2GB flash (thumb) drive.

That third one is the story. In a $50 software package was a 2GB flash drive…as a freebie.

It’s hard to pull up a good recent price history, but I could locate a couple of price points:

  • In August 2005, a 2GB flash drive would cost about $200
  • In August 2006, it looks as though you could buy one for something like $60
  • In December 2006–and this is an actual price history–a no-name 2GB drive had a median selling price of $40.
  • I was really pleased to buy a 2GB Sony flash drive at Target in early 2008 (or maybe late 2007) for $20.

I remember that a 256MB flash drive was one of the benefits we received for giving Microsoft a day and a half of free consulting during Search Champs v4 in early 2006. (Oddly, my notebook doesn’t recognize that drive…although it recognizes all of the assorted low-capacity drives that don’t have Microsoft branding. Hmm.)

So in December 2008, a 2GB flash drive is…a freebie. In a $50 software package. (Yes, I know it lists for $100. I doubt that Best Buy is taking a loss on it.)


Times change.

One Response to “Freebies and price history”

  1. Brian Herzog says:

    That flash drive is better than any cracker jack prize I’ve gotten.

    But also, I’ve recently purchased a new laptop, and so am in the process of installing all new software on it. I had my last computer for eight years, so it had many generations of software, but this time I thought I’d start fresh – and free. I’m trying Open Office, and instead of GIMP, I’m trying Paint.NET. It’s similar enough to Photoshop (which I am used to) to give me hope, but different enough to frustrate me. However, if you’re looking for another alternative to GIMP or purchasing something (too late), give it a try.