Do You Need The Best Things in Life to be Free?

Filed as Features on February 13, 2009 1:48 pm

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Exploring Social Media article series badgeEntrepreneur 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, 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 and . While 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 .

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.

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  1. By Michael posted on February 13, 2009 at 2:19 pm
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    As soon as Twitter, Facebook, etc., begin charging for anything I actively use, I’ll stop using them. There are too many services out there willing to be free for me to spend money on any other service. This is reality. Most social users will stop using it, too, gutting its usefulness for businesses.

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  2. By Big Slick Design posted on February 13, 2009 at 2:24 pm
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    I personally wouldn’t be using any of those services if they were not free.

    I mean, I just don’t have the kind of expendable cash to spend on things like that if I want to maintain an internet connection, among other things.

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  3. By Michael posted on February 13, 2009 at 3:06 pm
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    I see commercials on TV that ask people to text a certain number for some kind of dumb service. Why can’t Facebook, Twitter, etc., charge two or three cents per incoming cell-texted message? Or even a penny?

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  4. By Webomatica posted on February 13, 2009 at 5:14 pm
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    This has become a huge pet peeve of mine. From the user’s point of view, right now is the absolute *worst* time for formerly free companies to start charging. It’s a recession, did you get the memo? Anything above the bare necessities is under scrutiny for elimination from the budget, and any service that used to be free just attracts attention and begs to be cut.

    Should have charged money when times were good, not when times are bad – totally backwards thinking on the part of any of these “freemium” companies.

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  5. By Stephen - Rat Race Trap posted on February 14, 2009 at 5:08 pm
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    Nothing is free. Somebody is paying for it. Do I pay for “free” TV? Yes, I get 40 minutes of content per hour of watching. And actually the best is rarely free. The best costs and those who want it pay for it. Who thinks NBC has better content than HBO? You get a lot better content on the net when you pay for it as just one example. Maybe all the free lovers don’t realize it because they aren’t paying for anything.

    Don’t get me wrong, I use “free” services all the time. But nobody owes it to me and I get what I pay for. I have no right to gripe when it is gone.

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  6. By Ian posted on February 15, 2009 at 7:29 am
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    “how much would you be willing to pay before the cost exceeded the value?”

    The answer to that depends on how much the vast majority of users are prepared to pay. I get a lot of traffic from Facebook for, I suspect, the simple fact that Facebook gets a lot of traffic. So if Facebook charged more than most people were prepared to pay and stopped using the service then there’d be little point in me using it.

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  7. By Becca posted on February 15, 2009 at 7:10 pm
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    I think the beauty of social media tools is that they are free. After all, since Facebook has all but replaced real fact-time, why should we have to pay to say ‘hello’ to a friend from college? Charging for such things would defeat the purpose and the sites would suffer, in my opinion. I also think that things like blogging are just exploding right now, because businesses are realizing that everyone had a blog these days. The number of blogging jobs are steadily on the rise, which is impressive given the state of the economy right now. My point is, the whole appeal of social media, like Twitter, Facebook and even blogs, is that they are a free way to connect. Take that away and you’ve changed the whole nature of the beast.

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  8. By aditya posted on April 9, 2009 at 11:57 pm
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    love and compassion , sacrifice , penance . social service , eat less , work more . smile more , remember the creation is best

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