From time to time I see comments and concerns about Delphi price. Embarcadero actually rounded up the price of the Professional version starting january 1st. For example, commenting on Tim Del Chiaro blog post with the new prices (where you can see the current prices), someone mentioned, "you cannot ask for 3,500 USD for an IDE in 2012". This someone was probably a little biased: In fact Delphi Architect includes Delphi and a version of ER/Studio, which costs almost as much as the entire bundle.
My point is different, is Delphi more expensive than "comparable" offerings ? Of course, there are open source development environments (like Eclipse) which are free and make the comparison unfair. In most cases (and certainly in case of Eclipse) they were originally build by a company who focused on a different business (consulting for IBM, pushing the platform for Sun, spreading Android development for Google). How can we compare those projects with an IDE build and sold by a company which is into that specific business (development tools) and not a different ones (like operating systems). Honestly, this isn't easy, so I'm not trying to offer a complete comparison. I don't think one is possible or could be fair and honest.
What I'm going to contribute, in this blog post, are some actual prices of other tools I found on other vendors web sites. I'll skip our "Delphi Starter" offer and any similar entry level solutions (in which I know we could do better), and focus on professional or business development. For example, it is true that Microsoft provides "Express" versions of the tools for newcomers and non-professional users, but Visual Studio is not free .
Visual Studio Professional 2012 costs 636.00 Euros in Italy, 553.50 Euros (with a current discount) in Germany, and only 499 USD in US. (As a side note for European, notice the conversion rate!). It is true that most developer buy Visual Studio through a MSDN subscription, as on http://msdn.microsoft.com/subscriptions/hh442902.aspx. Here we can see that for a new licence we have to pay 1,263.65 Euro (and a yearly renewal of 855.41 Euro) -- might be a bit cheaper in USD. If you don't renew, you cannot keep the license and have to stop using the software.
As a comparion, skipping the starter edition, Delphi Professional costs 999.00 USD (for a new license) with a yearly maintenance of 300 USD, while Delphi Enterprise is at 1,999.00 USD (only for new users) and a maintenance price of 600 USD / year (which is certainly an interesting price tag within easy reach for most developers, lower than the yearly MSDN renewal and with a perpetual license if you stop renewing). Same prices in Euros (I know, I know, not the exchange rate).
Regarding high-end versions , the top edition of Visual Studio via MSDN, called "Visual Studio Ultimate 2012" sells for 14,237.91 Euros (with a renewal at 4,548.98 Euros / year). Given its scope and the tools in contains, it seems appropriate... but it is certainly an expensive IDE. There are other expensive tools out there, like EiffelStudio which starts at over 7,000 USD (but has dual license for open source projects). One of the strengths of Delphi is database development, and the alternatives are 4GL or database applications development tools, many of which are still popular and run by independent companies. However, in this category, it seems that no price is close to Delphi, but they are all significantly higher than Delphi Enterprise.
At the lower price end, let's consider instead what some of the new companies focused on development tools are offering these days. I picked a couple of popular ones. For example to get a full development environment and license for Sencha and Ext-JS , you need almost a thousand dollars. As of today on their web site, Sencha Architect costs 399 USD, a commercial license for Sencha Ext JS costs 595 USD (with support), and Sencha Complete is listed at 995 USD. This is what they are expecting from a professional developer.
On the mobile space many are talking about Xamarin . If you look at https://store.xamarin.com, you'll find out that an individual or small company (with less than 5 developers) will pay 399.00 USD each license, while a bigger company is going to pay 999.00 USD for each licence. This is for each platform: if you want to target both iOS and Android, you end up paying almost twice as much (there is a 10% discount on the total). And Mac development support has the some cost as well, to be added to the total.
Again, how does Delphi price compare with other professional development tools? I think it is in the middle of the pack . Considering what it offers (IDE plus native language plus native libraries and now support for multiple operating systems) and that Embarcadero has no alternative sources of revenues, I think the price is more than fair. I know some of you will disagree, but can you please refer to "comparable" offers that are much better? Any independent vendor (possibly not loosing money) offering a great deal? Suggesting to make Delphi open source is not a viable business solution, you know...
As an aside, would you consider a yearly subscription (like MSDN) compared to a perpetual license? Or would you prefer the current combination of license plus maintenance? Or some other model (and if you can reference to specific vendors, that will help)?