I was wondering, is there an economic rationale in developing and marketing a small tool (standalone or rather plugin)? Of course, let's assume that the tool does indeed solve a real problem from the production process. And by small, I mean an application that can be developed by 1-2 developers within 2 years. Do you know any contemporary success stories? I have two observations that make me wonder:
Anyway I turn around people ask for free and preferably open-source tools. Even when the price is low, and the software is worth its price, I see this big reluctance to spend any money on commercial development software. An application author would probably have to assume that only a very small percentage of all people who might find his application useful, will actually purchase it.
I've seen a few good commercial software examples that after some time started offering free licenses. The most notable example for me was gDEBugger from Graphic Remedy. Last time I checked it didn't even had any worthy competitor (commercial or noncommercial) in the market of OpenGL debuggers. I have no idea what might have made them do that, other than poor sales.