15 June 2005

Software piracy in Cambodia


The Economist, via Corante, gets it right:
They dubiously presume that each piece of software pirated equals a direct loss of revenue to software firms.

To derive its piracy rate, IDC estimates the average amount of software that is installed on a PC per country, using data from surveys, interviews and other studies. That figure is then reduced by the known quantity of software sold per country-a calculation in which IDC specialises. The result: a (supposed) amount of piracy per country. Multiplying that figure by the revenue from legitimate sales thus yields the retail value of the unpaid-for software. This, IDC and BSA claim, equals the amount of lost revenue.
I would guess that 99+% of the software in use in Cambodia is pirated. (The remainder represents the few NGOs which really care about this.) It is, in fact, extremely difficult to buy a legitimate copy of, say Microsoft Office. The few places which offer licensed copies don't stock them; instead, they must be ordered from Singapore.

So what would happen if unlicensed Windows and Office suddenly stopped working? Very few people here would buy them — the $600 for both represents a couple of years' income for most Khmers. Instead, people would either do without computing, or switch to Linux.

The idea that the rampant piracy here is costing Microsoft money is patently absurd.