Today I read this really insightful article about how giving away software can kill the market for it.
While I largely agree with the Andy, I think that he has missed one important point.
Giving away a really good product in a certain space can depress sales and stifle innovation, but there will always be that small percentage of users whose needs are not met by the free alternative. Because of this, niche users will be willing to pay top dollar for a product that goes beyond the free alternative.
What about the free alternative?
Won’t its developers be adding features too?
Sure. They might.
But its free, so its not a priority.
Your customers, on the other hand, will pay you good money to make adding features they want a priority … see the difference?
Case in point, Google Calendar added to-do lists, almost a year ago now … but despite cries for an api for it, nothing has happened.
2524 users (people requesting that feature) is not a large number to google, but if you’re a small development shop … and each of those users were paying you … say $4.99 a month … you’d be doing okay.
Lots of motivation to bang out an api … yeah?
So, instead of looking at it as “Free” killing the market for your product.
Look at it as …. “Free” doing you the favor of hand delivering the most passionate, keyed-in, highly motivated group of users in the market for your product, to your doorstep … for free