Nick, thanks for your post. We set our prices based on a number of factors, including the complexity of the code and the cost to us to maintain it going forward. The two things you mention - RMA processing and drop ship - are pretty involved pieces of software, and we believe worth paying for.
We are, obviously, big fans of open source here at xTuple - and I think we provide an awful lot of sophisticated business software functionality for absolutely no cost. (Yes, no cost - not sure why you have the scare quotes around “free.”)
But we don’t think it’s unreasonable to try and sell our more advanced products so that all the people who maintain the wonderful free PostBooks core product can make a living. If you’ve looked at other commercial offerings, then you’re surely aware that $4000/year is a fraction of what other systems with similar functionality would cost.
The simple, honest answer is that the technical effort required to try and separate out some of the integrated commercial features is simply not justified by the likely return we’d see from people who want to purchase such features a la carte. We’re a business, and we need to be able to make judgments like that. Our hope is that in most cases, once a company gets to a point in its growth that it requires this kind of advanced functionality, they’re also able to see the cost justification of investing in a commercial license. If the economics of that value exchange don’t work for your company right now, we certainly understand - and hope that might change in the future.