Supporting Electronic Commerce of Software Products through Pay-Per-Use Rental of Downloadable Tools
Giancarlo Succi (University of Alberta, Canada), Raymond Wong (University of Alberta, Canada), E. Liu (University of Calgary, Canada), Carlo Bonamico (DIST-Universita di Genova, Italy) and Tullio Vernazza (University of Regina, Italy)
Copyright: © 2001
The pervasiveness of Internet connectivity and the wide diffusion of Java-capable browsers foster innovative techniques for software distribution. In this chapter, we propose a new model for the electronic commerce of software tools based on a pay-per-use rental policy. Pay-per-use rental of downloadable tools is the natural exploitation of Java applets that can be transferred on demand to the user’s machine and executed dynamically inside a browser. While software rental is not a new idea (Flamnia and McCandless, 1996), at present no example of a standard pay-per-use rental mechanism for downloadable software tools exists. This approach benefits from the advantages of central management of tools and zero maintenance for users typical of Java applets, together with a new way to pay for their use. Software rental presents several advantages to producers and users. Pay-per-use rental is particularly suited to Web-based applications, because they are offered to a very heterogeneous and dynamic user population (Bakos and Brynjolfson, 1997). This chapter describes advantages and issues related to pay-per-use, and explains how to add it to Web-based systems, by presenting the example of pay-per-use integration in WebMetrics, a Web-based system providing distributed collection, management, and analysis of source code metrics. This chapter is organized as follows. Section 2 discusses tools-on-demand. Section 3 presents the role of pay-per-use. Section 4 introduces WebMetrics, our prototype pay-per-use application. Section 5 describes the architecture of WebMetrics. Section 6 presents a list of open issues. Section 7 draws some conclusions.