Entrepreneur Magazine’s article “The Best Things in Life are Free,” featured a list of free web-based services businesses and online entrepreneurs need today to run their business and spread their message around the world.
The list of web-based services, open source, free programs, and social media tools for today’s businesses is impressive, but incomplete. It included Remember the Milk task management system, Woopra live web analytics, OpenOffice, Google Docs and Calendar, FreshBooks for invoicing, expenses, and time-tracking, SlideShare, Audacity audio recording and editing, YouSendIt for sending files free up to 2 gigs, and Oovoo the video messaging, conferencing, and chatting service. A great collection of outstanding free services, but what’s missing is more interesting.
Missing from the list were WordPress and WordPress.com. While Twitter was mentioned, it wasn’t in the final list, along with missing social media tools millions depend upon every day such as Flickr, YouTube, or Google Analytics.
What about feeds? Google Feed Reader and other feed readers weren’t mentioned, nor any other aggregators, tools many businesses are dependent upon for tracking their company information, coverage, and press around the world, as well as monitoring their industry.
What else is missing from the list?
What Happens When The Best Things in Life Aren’t Free Any More?
There is growing concern about the continued economy problems, and the worry that these free companies won’t last or will soon turn to paid models. Yet, more and more businesses are becoming completely dependent upon these free programs and services to help them develop, grow, and run their businesses.
What free services are you counting on to help you with your online experience and business? If they change their business model from free to paid, will you stay? What would motivate you to stay with them?
What is your price break? For instance, if Twitter started charging, how much would you be willing to pay before the cost exceeded the value? What about Flickr? LinkedIn? Facebook? How much would you be willing to pay for these services?
How would your business change if, say, LinkedIn, Flickr, Facebook, or Twitter went out of business? Some social media tools enjoyed by many disappeared recently due to the economic shifts.
Most people are used to competition pushing and shoving businesses out of the way, replacing the older ones with new, improved versions, but in this economy, the survival of the fittest may not apply any more. If the funding and economic model isn’t solidly in place, and good will won’t pay the bills, no matter how many millions count on the application to continue to work, what will happen if these “best things in life” fail?
Update: As of December 19, 2008, one of the services mentioned in the article, I Want Sandy, a free task management system, has closed. Their front page links to an announcement about the closing of Values of n, the parent company of I Want Sandy and Stikkit. Their company’s work was honored with the SWSX award for Best Technical Achievement 2007 and Webware 100 award for Productivity. It states that the intellectual property behind both services were acquired by Twitter with little news of their future.