Paid Apps and the Freemium model

365 Days - Day 267 by SMercury98.Over the years I have tended to avoid paying for applications because the up-front cost was prohibitive. So I either went without, used an older version that may have been given away with a magazine, or found an open source equivalent. However, I am now finding myself committing to a number of applications because of the small up-front cost and, quite often, after a period of using the service for free – the so call freemium model. The question is whether that is good value for money.

The applications below are all ones that I use on a regular basis, used for free first before paying for a premium service of some sort. All the following applications make use of the Internet in some form or another.  They are not all cloud apps in the traditional sense with some being hybrids with local clients and remote storage.

Some of these don’t have desktop equivalents and so you cannot make the comparison but Evernote does in the form of Microsoft’s OneNote. I was a happy OneNote user when it was provided for me by the companies that I worked for, usually as part of the full Office package. When I became self-employed I still wanted similar functionality but not the up-front cost. As it happens OneNote can be purchased stand-alone and is currently showing as £72 on Amazon. Evernote’s premium offering is $45 (about £27) per year. So at that rate after about two and a half years OneNote would have paid for itself.

As ever it is not as simple as that. Evernote offers a number of things that OneNote does not. You can access your notes not just on your desktop but also on the web and on a number of mobile devices – not just those powered by Microsoft’s Windows Mobile. Also as part of the Evernote subscription I am entitled to all updates which I would not be with OneNote.

You can see from the cost comparison above that the recurring revenue model is a good one for businesses over the longer term. If you want to continue to use the software you have to continue to pay and over the years I will no doubt end up paying for more than I would have done had I purchased the software outright.

As I said most of these services offer a free option to allow you to try the software before making the move to the paid premium version. This is a crucial deciding factor on my trialling a service these days. I almost expect to be able to try before I buy and with so many competing services those that do not offer a trial option of some sort are rejected.

So has this changed my buying habits? Yes, without a doubt. I haven’t totalled up the annual amount I am spending on all the services I am now subscribed to but I know instinctively that it is much more than I was spending on one-off purchases of software. Equally I also feel that I am getting much better value for money that I did previously. The rate of change of software is so great that regular updates with significant functionality improvements is the norm these days and this is all built into the price.

I will just list the services I subscribe to here and review them all in a later post.

Do you subscribe to any of these services? Do you think that the freemium model is a good one? Let us know.

[image : SMercury98]
  • Neil Thompson

    Since posting this I have been reminded of Chris Anderson’s work on this very same subject. You can read about it in a Wired article he wrote (http://sn.im/l8hod).

    You can also, ironically, buy the book that expands on this article although, to be fair, Chris does states that “FREE will be available in all digital forms–ebook, web book, and audiobook–for free when the hardcover is published on July 9th. The ebook and web book will be free for a limited time, the unabridged audiobook will be available free forever”.

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