Zend launches user group affiliate program
Zend Technologies has created a new affiliate program oriented towards PHP user groups from all around the world, eliciting controversial reactions from the community about the viability of its business model. The program is related to all the Zend products sold through the online store, which covers practically everything from the Zend Studio IDE to PHP training courses and certification exam vouchers.
The program is intended to benefit all the parties involved; primarily, Zend gets a showcase for its products in an environment of dedicated PHP programmers like the ones in PHP user groups. In exchange, the group members obtain a discount on their purchases via a group-specific coupon code. At the time of this writing, this discount is set at 7.5 percent on all products. Finally, the groups themselves receive a progressive commission on sales starting from 10 percent. Though, many user groups are not organized as legal persons and this makes managing commissions difficult because, for example, of taxation issues.
Zend’s relationship with the PHP community is at times contentious. Its tagline, “The PHP Company,” has been characterized as offensive by several community members in the past due to its perceived implication that Zend, rather than the community itself, created and maintains PHP. On hearing of this initiative, we gathered some thoughts from several US-based PHP user groups through the voice of their official contacts and founders, and the results are as varied as one would expect.
Some of the reactions can be characterized as less than positive, as is the case with Hans Zaunere, leader of the New York PHP usergroup. Hans had this to say about the new program.
“I’ve signed up for it, so we’ll see what happens next — I’m not sure how much we’ll participate. I’m not always keen on user groups as sales and advertising channels with negligible benefit for the community.”
On the other hand, there are some who think that the idea has merit. Joel Clermont of the Milwaukee PHP User Group had this to say.
“The Milwaukee PHP User Group has signed up for this promotion. I think it’s a nice gesture on Zend’s behalf toward the PHP community. I’ve given a few presentations on IDEs and IDE-related features at our user group, and about the only negative thing most people say about Zend Studio is the price. I’m hoping this softens that, even if only a little. Also, it’s a way for our members to support the group indirectly, through the commissions. We plan on bringing it up at our next meeting on April 13.”
Bradley Holt of the Burlington PHP User Group offered this input:
“Our group will probably sign up for the program. I’m more interested in the discounts for members than the commissions. Our group doesn’t have a treasury so the commissions would be useless to use. Besides, we don’t want to be seen as a sales channel for Zend. But, it’s always nice be able to offer discounts to members.”
Many groups have already signed up for the program, which can be beneficial in terms of discounts and commissions, although the loose organization of many of the groups may make redeeming them a problem.