I have always been an advocate for free Internet stuff, and I have written a lot about this topic on this blog. My philosophy when it comes to Internet tools has always been and continues to be the following: Every business person will understand that cash is king. If you do not have to break the digital bank while not compromising your client service, this enhances the opportunity to be cost competitive. However, in my case there have been 2 developments of late. Firstly, growth in my business, and the associated need to take it to the next level, is increasingly making premium tools a necessary evil. Secondly, some of the key freemium tools used in my business are starting to phase out the free services.
I recommended Crowdbooster in my Digi-DIY Tips on 14 May 2012, emphasising at that stage that it is has a freemium option for basic tracking of Twitter reach. This was several months before the eventuality delivered in the email above was brought to my attention. I decided to discontinue this tool when the freemium option expired. Unfortunately, when Google gave me the second last warning to upgrade my Google Apps for Business – the Gmail for business – to a premium option or risk suspension of my account a month ago, this felt like a gun to my head because I am hooked on this integrated online communication tool.
It is my view that Google knows they got most business people (like me) who have been using this free email platform for years “by the balls” *ouch*. The diagram below explains why, in simple terms, it is beneficial to use this Google tool for business communications.
At $5 for an email account, it is now costing $250 a month (or R2,265 at today’s rate of exchange) for companies with 50 Google Apps email accounts, and this was previously a free service. There are benefits that come with a premium version though, and you can click here to find out more. A few more tools have phased out the freemium option as well, or look to be in the process of doing so. These include Tweetarchivist and TweetLevel. The writing is clearly on the wall – freemium days are numbered. An advise to business people of my ilk – ensure you revise your expense projections.