|By David Abramowski||
|June 5, 2009 08:00 AM EDT||
With companies left and right offering full versions of their products for free, users have been conditioned NOT to pay for anything. This conditioning can be seen across everything from social media sites to messaging to business applications. The problem with this as I see it is the negative impact on innovation.
Users think that they win by getting free software or services, but do they really? If you ask me the only real winners in the free ecosystem are the investors behind well funded companies. By locking down markets with free offerings companies can effectively prevent new entrants from emerging. This stifles creativity and innovation.
In a meeting a few months back with a partner from Benchmark Capital, I found out that on average they see 3-5% conversion rates on FREE offerings within their investment portfolio. For most of us this is rather daunting news.
Let’s do some quick mathematics. Let’s say that you are getting started and you have 2 servers from Amazon Web Services (1 web server/app server and 1 db server). Your monthly cost is going to be around $200. Let’s now assume that your multi-tenant application can handle 100 accounts on that server, simple math $2 per account cost. Now you go out and offer your service FREE and you have some success. Let’s say you sign up 1,000 free accounts. You scale your costs linearly so you are now spending $2,000 a month to support those free accounts.
You get 5% to upgrade (eventually) to your paid account of say $20/month – at this rate, even with success it costs you $1,000/month just to keep the lights on. Now add to that your Google Adwords budget, your credit card processing fees and the dozen other bills you have each month and you find yourself quickly in the hole by several thousand dollars a month.
Now what happens if you get slash dotted or an article about you ends up on ReadWriteWeb? Your monthly costs can zoom beyond your meager savings account, all without any real revenue in return or an endpoint in sight. The end result of your short term success will be the failure of your start up because you ran out of money.
There is also another aspect of the “FREE” account that costs you time and money. To support a layer of free accounts you have to write code to restrict or to compartmentalize your solution. This takes your valuable development resources and shifts them from building killer technology to building layers of management so you can support the free users.
I just heard you shout…”But David, you must have a free version or no one will use your software!” I disagree my new friend. If you look at the Salesforce.com pricing page they don’t have a free model. Neither does Netsuite. These companies are in business to make money, not give away software. I like this model and hope to see more and more start ups follow it. At my start up project MioWorks.com, we are holding to this model and offering a free trial to introduce users to our software. I feel this is an acceptable compromise because it has a definite end period and you don’t have to over-provision your computing environment to support thousands of free accounts in perpetuity.
As for you users out there, don’t be shy to actually pay for something you like to use. You don’t think twice about dropping hundreds on a camera but you won’t spend $20 a year to store and manage your photographs in an online application.
In the past year or so, Apple has shown us that users will actually pay if the paradigm is broken. The Apple AppStore is a great example of how to break the cycle and get users to pay for technologies. As entrepreneurs we need to watch how this model is evolving and how we can capitalize on it to help fund our ideas and companies.
My last word of advice helps both the user and the start up. Users, if there are vendors with products you just love but they are too expensive, then tell them. Tell them the price point that would be of interest to you. Tell them how to get your business.
The end result of spending money on products you like will be a wider variety of products with more and more innovation. And who doesn’t like variety! Maybe Google.
WebRTC services have already permeated corporate communications in the form of videoconferencing solutions. However, WebRTC has the potential of going beyond and catalyzing a new class of services providing more than calls with capabilities such as mass-scale real-time media broadcasting, enriched and augmented video, person-to-machine and machine-to-machine communications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Luis Lopez, CEO of Kurento, will introduce the technologies required for implementing these ideas and some early experiments performed in the Kurento open source software community in areas ...
Sep. 2, 2015 02:15 PM EDT
17th Cloud Expo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterprises are using some form of XaaS – software, platform, and infrastructure as a service.
Sep. 2, 2015 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,570
Consumer IoT applications provide data about the user that just doesn’t exist in traditional PC or mobile web applications. This rich data, or “context,” enables the highly personalized consumer experiences that characterize many consumer IoT apps. This same data is also providing brands with unprecedented insight into how their connected products are being used, while, at the same time, powering highly targeted engagement and marketing opportunities. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Nathan Treloar, President and COO of Bebaio, will explore examples of brands transforming their businesses by t...
Sep. 2, 2015 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 262
The 3rd International WebRTC Summit, to be held Nov. 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, announces that its Call for Papers is now open. Topics include all aspects of improving IT delivery by eliminating waste through automated business models leveraging cloud technologies. WebRTC Summit is co-located with 15th International Cloud Expo, 6th International Big Data Expo, 3rd International DevOps Summit and 2nd Internet of @ThingsExpo. WebRTC (Web-based Real-Time Communication) is an open source project supported by Google, Mozilla and Opera that aims to enable bro...
Sep. 2, 2015 01:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,552
The 17th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. 17th International Cloud Expo, to be held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, APM, APIs, Microservices, Security, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal today!
Sep. 2, 2015 01:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,634
SYS-CON Events announced today that the "Second Containers & Microservices Expo" will take place November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Containers and microservices have become topics of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities.
Sep. 2, 2015 01:30 PM EDT Reads: 620
SYS-CON Events announced today that HPM Networks will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For 20 years, HPM Networks has been integrating technology solutions that solve complex business challenges. HPM Networks has designed solutions for both SMB and enterprise customers throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
Sep. 2, 2015 01:30 PM EDT Reads: 937
While many app developers are comfortable building apps for the smartphone, there is a whole new world out there. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Narayan Sainaney, Co-founder and CTO of Mojio, will discuss how the business case for connected car apps is growing and, with open platform companies having already done the heavy lifting, there really is no barrier to entry.
Sep. 2, 2015 12:45 PM EDT Reads: 191
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Lee Williams, a producer of the first smartphones and tablets, will talk about how he is now applying his experience in mobile technology to the design and development of the next generation of Environmental and Sustainability Services at ETwater. He will explain how M2M controllers work through wirelessly connected remote controls; and specifically delve into a retrofit option that reverse-engineers control codes of existing conventional controller systems so they don't have to be replaced and are instantly converted to become smart, connected devices.
Sep. 2, 2015 12:45 PM EDT Reads: 201
Too often with compelling new technologies market participants become overly enamored with that attractiveness of the technology and neglect underlying business drivers. This tendency, what some call the “newest shiny object syndrome,” is understandable given that virtually all of us are heavily engaged in technology. But it is also mistaken. Without concrete business cases driving its deployment, IoT, like many other technologies before it, will fade into obscurity.
Sep. 2, 2015 12:15 PM EDT Reads: 412
Akana has announced the availability of the new Akana Healthcare Solution. The API-driven solution helps healthcare organizations accelerate their transition to being secure, digitally interoperable businesses. It leverages the Health Level Seven International Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (HL7 FHIR) standard to enable broader business use of medical data. Akana developed the Healthcare Solution in response to healthcare businesses that want to increase electronic, multi-device access to health records while reducing operating costs and complying with government regulations.
Sep. 2, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 271
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo in Silicon Valley. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 17th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal an...
Sep. 2, 2015 11:30 AM EDT Reads: 1,996
SYS-CON Events announced today the Containers & Microservices Bootcamp, being held November 3-4, 2015, in conjunction with 17th Cloud Expo, @ThingsExpo, and @DevOpsSummit at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. This is your chance to get started with the latest technology in the industry. Combined with real-world scenarios and use cases, the Containers and Microservices Bootcamp, led by Janakiram MSV, a Microsoft Regional Director, will include presentations as well as hands-on demos and comprehensive walkthroughs.
Sep. 2, 2015 11:30 AM EDT Reads: 381
As more intelligent IoT applications shift into gear, they’re merging into the ever-increasing traffic flow of the Internet. It won’t be long before we experience bottlenecks, as IoT traffic peaks during rush hours. Organizations that are unprepared will find themselves by the side of the road unable to cross back into the fast lane. As billions of new devices begin to communicate and exchange data – will your infrastructure be scalable enough to handle this new interconnected world?
Sep. 2, 2015 11:15 AM EDT Reads: 184
With the proliferation of connected devices underpinning new Internet of Things systems, Brandon Schulz, Director of Luxoft IoT – Retail, will be looking at the transformation of the retail customer experience in brick and mortar stores in his session at @ThingsExpo. Questions he will address include: Will beacons drop to the wayside like QR codes, or be a proximity-based profit driver? How will the customer experience change in stores of all types when everything can be instrumented and analyzed? As an area of investment, how might a retail company move towards an innovation methodolo...
Sep. 2, 2015 11:15 AM EDT Reads: 494
The Internet of Things is in the early stages of mainstream deployment but it promises to unlock value and rapidly transform how organizations manage, operationalize, and monetize their assets. IoT is a complex structure of hardware, sensors, applications, analytics and devices that need to be able to communicate geographically and across all functions. Once the data is collected from numerous endpoints, the challenge then becomes converting it into actionable insight.
Sep. 2, 2015 09:00 AM EDT
Contrary to mainstream media attention, the multiple possibilities of how consumer IoT will transform our everyday lives aren’t the only angle of this headline-gaining trend. There’s a huge opportunity for “industrial IoT” and “Smart Cities” to impact the world in the same capacity – especially during critical situations. For example, a community water dam that needs to release water can leverage embedded critical communications logic to alert the appropriate individuals, on the right device, as soon as they are needed to take action.
Sep. 2, 2015 08:45 AM EDT
As more and more data is generated from a variety of connected devices, the need to get insights from this data and predict future behavior and trends is increasingly essential for businesses. Real-time stream processing is needed in a variety of different industries such as Manufacturing, Oil and Gas, Automobile, Finance, Online Retail, Smart Grids, and Healthcare. Azure Stream Analytics is a fully managed distributed stream computation service that provides low latency, scalable processing of streaming data in the cloud with an enterprise grade SLA. It features built-in integration with Azur...
Sep. 2, 2015 08:30 AM EDT Reads: 309
SYS-CON Events announced today that Pythian, a global IT services company specializing in helping companies leverage disruptive technologies to optimize revenue-generating systems, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Founded in 1997, Pythian is a global IT services company that helps companies compete by adopting disruptive technologies such as cloud, Big Data, advanced analytics, and DevOps to advance innovation and increase agility. Specializing in designing, imple...
Sep. 2, 2015 06:45 AM EDT Reads: 344
WebRTC has had a real tough three or four years, and so have those working with it. Only a few short years ago, the development world were excited about WebRTC and proclaiming how awesome it was. You might have played with the technology a couple of years ago, only to find the extra infrastructure requirements were painful to implement and poorly documented. This probably left a bitter taste in your mouth, especially when things went wrong.
Sep. 2, 2015 04:00 AM EDT Reads: 483