The downside of free software

Yesterday the New York Times had an interesting article about our expectation that software (and web sites and web applications) all should be free. I've written about this before so I won't belabor it again. From the article:

A growing number of consumers are paying just that — nothing. This is the Internet’s latest phase: people using freely distributed applications, from e-mail and word processing programs to spreadsheets, games and financial management tools. They run on distant, massive and shared data centers, and users of the services pay with their attention to ads, not cash. (from New York Times)

I have more than a passing interest in this because as you may know I am the proprietor of BlogBridge, which is an open source application plus service which is available free. We modestly offer a few enhanced services for not-free, and the reality is that the majority of our customers opt for the free choice. You can understand why the topic of free and not free software is interesting to me.

Last month, a really great and popular web based application, after a few years of free service, decided it had to close it's doors. From the final post by Greg Linden, it's intrepid leader:

"Findory turned off its last webserver today. Sadness." (from Findory turns off the lights)

As it turns out, "We give it away free, and make it up in volume" doesn't always work.

Posted on February 16, 2008 and filed under Life.