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In economics, a damaged good (sometimes termed "crippleware" or "feature limited" or product with "anti-features") is a good that is "a stripped-down version of the original good",[1] especially one that has been subjected to "intentional quality reduction of a portion of [the manufacturer's] output as a means of offering two qualities of goods for the purpose of price discrimination."[2][3]

Computer software

Deliberately limited programs are usually freeware versions of computer programs that lack the most advanced (or even crucial) features of the original program. Limited versions are made available in order to increase the popularity of the full program without giving it away free. An example of crippleware is a word processor that cannot save or print. However, crippleware programs can also differentiate between tiers of paying software customers.

The term "crippleware" is sometimes used to describe software products whose functions have been limited (or "crippled") with the sole purpose of encouraging or requiring the user to pay for those functions (either by paying a one-time fee or an on-going subscription fee).[4][5][6]

The less derogatory term, from a shareware software producer's perspective, is feature-limited. Feature-limited is merely one mechanism for marketing shareware as a damaged good; others are time-limited, usage-limited, capacity-limited, nagware and output-limited.[7] From the producer's standpoint, feature-limited allows customers to try software with no commitment instead of relying on questionable reviews and possibly staged reviews. Try-before-you-buy applications are very prevalent for mobile devices, with the additional damaged good of ad-displays as well as all of the other forms of damaged-good applications.[8]

From an Open Source software providers perspective, there is the model of open core which includes a feature-limited version of the product and an open core version. The feature-limited version can be used widely like MySQL, Eucalyptus.

Several types of deliberately limited programs exist. The vendor includes a clause that features time limits to mar functionality. For example, the freeware version of Fraps has in-game video recording time restricted to 30 seconds, and with a Fraps logo on the video.[9]

Computer hardware

This product differentiation strategy has also been used in hardware products:

  • The Intel 486SX which was a 486DX with the FPU removed or in early versions present but disabled.[dubious ][4]
  • AMD disables defective cores on their quad-core Phenom and Phenom II X4 processor dies to make cheaper triple-core Phenom and Phenom II X3 and dual-core X2 models without the expense of designing new chips. Quad-core dies with one or two faulty cores can be used as triple- or dual-core processors rather than being discarded, increasing yield.[10] Some users have managed to "unlock" these crippled cores, when not faulty.[11]
  • Casio fx-82es scientific calculator has the same ROM as fx-991es, but some functions are disabled.[12][unreliable source?]

Digital rights management

Digital rights management is another example of this product differentiation strategy.[3] Digital files are inherently capable of being copied perfectly in unlimited quantities; digital rights management aims to remove the (from the producer's viewpoint) excess utility to the user from this capability by using hardware or cryptographic techniques to limit copying or playback.

See also

Design portal


External links

  • "Antifeatures". Benjamin Mako Hill.
    • Open source means freedom from 'anti-features', Norwegian magazine "Computerworld" reports on Benjamin Mako Hill's talk. (2010-02-08)
  • "Court order denying motion to dismiss of Melanie Tucker v. Apple Computer Inc. in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, San Jose Division" (2006-12-20)
    • Want an iPhone? Beware the iHandcuffs New York Times editorial labeling iPhone OS as "crippleware". (2007-01-14)
  • "Stealth plan puts copy protection into every hard drive" The Register. (2000-12-20)
    • "Western Digital drive is DRM-crippled for your safety" The Register. (2007-12-07)
    • "Western Digital's 'crippleware': Some lessons from history" The Register. Follow-up to original article. (2007-12-12)


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