July 22, 2008 |
It is rather disturbing to see everything free online and users revolting even because of web services making them watch some ads to earn at least something to sustain their businesses. Today we are going to see another example of a product switched to a free model – this time by Vancouver-based Calgoo Software.
Basically, Calgoo is a suite of calendar tools that allows you to have a single desktop calendar solution that synchronizes all your calendars across different platforms, including Google Calendar, Microsoft Outlook, Apple iCal, 30 boxes, Plaxo. Moreover, it not only allows you to create an sync various calendars of your own using the tools of your choice – it also allows you to share calendars with your family and colleagues and collaborate on them, without making anyone switch to the calendar solution of your choice.
The tools included in the calendar suite by Calgoo are:
- Calgoo Calendar – a calendar application itself
- Calgoo Connect – a calendar synchronization application
- Calgoo Hub – a web-based calendar sharing service
The pricing structure until today was pretty usual – there were limited free versions that were accompanied by pro versions available at a price of $30 a year for Calendar and the same $30 for Connect (Calgoo Hub, the web solution, was free anyway). But it looks like the sales have not been such a success (I can’t see any other reason for a company with good sales volume to move to the feasible ad-supported model) so instead of charging their users for a better feature set they’ve decided to offer everything for free and make the users watch some ads while using their calendars. So at noon today (PST) all the solutions will become free and the Calgoo store will not sell any more licenses.
Now that the products are free for all to use, the company says to be working on a new in-calendar advertising model – it is obvious, everything that is free seems to be ad-supported these days. But initially the services will be simply free since the ad serving to calendar users is simply not ready yet. Obviously, there is a tricky issue of existing paying customers since it is not clear what exactly they are supposed to do with the purchased subscriptions and it looks like the only advantage they will continue to have is full email support through the date of license termination – while other users will have to stick to the support via company’s support forums.
But to me the important issue is not that of any software manufacturer adopting ad-supported model for its products – it’s the question of switching to this model after actually charging users for premium features for some time. It looks like internet users have grown too accustomed to having everything ready and for free that they don’t even bother to contemplate the idea of paying for something, even if it is a service they rely on for this or that task. And this is a disturbing trend – watching companies fail on the sales road and resort to advertising is painful and it shows that the market where no one is really willing to buy anything and sellers are forced to provide everything for free can hardly be referred to as a healthy one.