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Communications of the ACM

Communications of the ACM

The economics of designing generalized software

The choice of the attributes to be incorporated in a generalized software package is a complex design task, much like the choice of the characteristics of the basic model and the options to be offered when a new automobile is being designed. Some empirical evidence available suggests that the choices made by generalized software designers are not always well founded; for example, some functions included in the software are hardly, if ever, used, while functions that would be used extensively are not available. To assist the designer, we formulate a market model showing the interactions between the producers (designers) of generalized software and the consumers (users) of generalized software. The model provides insight into those factors that affect the demand for a package and the variables to be considered in a profit-maximizing decision.

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