Saturday, March 23, 2013

Free, Freemium, and Paid

There was a time when I'd bridle at the idea of having to pay for software or services. But I browse the iTunes app store now, and see people pleading to have the chance to pay for an app that they like, so that the authors won't stop updating it. The whole kerfuffle with Google Reader, Keep and Evernote is another example of how people have begun to prefer to pay for products, rather than rely on something free.

It feels like the end of an era where open source and free software (not the same thing, but often referred to in the same breath) were the default. Maybe we've come to the realization that nothing is really ever free, and that it's more realistic to get the costs out in the open rather than "being the product".


  1. Another example of this phenomenon I think is It used to be one of the great things on the internet as far as I am concerned. However it was destroyed by successive waves of "upgrades" - which I saw as a bunch of developers destroying value to keep themselves busy. After hanging on to it for a while a lot of people migrated to pinboard after paying the initial fee ($10).

  2. Paying for it doesn't necessarily keep it around.

  3. ^ That's a deep comment that I am sure people haven't thought about.

    $10 is not much for a no nonsense minimalistic website that used to be. For two years at least it has lived to the promise.

  4. Wait---what's happening to Evernote? I'm using it for free now, is there a problem? Thx.

  5. Opensource has hardly ever (or never?) been the default.

  6. Google, Wikipedia, Facebook, and Twitter are still free.

    Google seems to have a business model that works, so I think they'll
    stay free.

    The others--- hard to say.

  7. I think this particular issue -- the shutdown of cloud services -- actually exposes how important the distinction is between open-source vs. software that is just free (as in beer). If Google Reader had been open-source, Google's abandonment would be just a minor bump in the road, since alternative hosting providers would immediately spring up (possibly for a fee) and development would continue. Instead, now everyone has to switch to totally different platforms.

    Google could immediately quash most of the worries about Keep if they just open-sourced the code, ensuring it won't die if and when Google abandons it. Of course it's hard for Google to open-source anything these days, since their products all integrate so heavily with each other and with their proprietary internal infrastructure...


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