Bait and switch leaves a sour taste

I am surprised at a new trend (ok, so only based on 2 experiences recently) but companies will make their product available for free (as in beer), get a lot of users and market share – then discontinue the free edition and start charging.

WhileI understand the appeal of such a strategy, it does leave a very sour taste in the consumer’s mouth. Paying for software isa goodthing (heck, we charge for Secret Server) and everyone needs to be able to pay their bills … but why the deceit?

It is also an interesting situation as a software vendor since we may be able to get more market share if we gave our product away for free (actually we do for a single user) but we are very clear that it costs money for our core audience – administrator teams who want to securely share certain passwords. I wonder how the competitors to these products feel about their actions.

I wonder if these companies would have gained *any significant* market share if their product had cost money from the beginning.

Jonathan Cogley isthe CEO and founder of Thycotic Software, a .NET consulting company and ISV in Washington DC. Thycotic Secret Server is a secure web-based solution to both “Where is the password for this router?” and “Who has the password for our domain hosting?”. Secret Server isthe leader in secret management and sharing within companies and teams.

  1. russell@vsdotnet.co.uk
    November 13, 2006 at 2:12 pm

    As far as I was aware AVG still has a free edition:

    http://www.grisoft.com/doc/products-avg-anti-virus-free-edition/lng/us/tpl/tpl01

  2. http://
  3. PaulWilson
    November 13, 2006 at 3:50 pm

    AVG makes it really hard to find their free version, but its still there. The announcement you saw was simply saying v7.1 was no longer going to be useable soon. Yes they then tell you about the pro v7.5, but that’s not to say there isn’t still a free v7.5. šŸ™‚

    Here’s another bait-n-switch to add to your list though: CodeSmith.

  4. Jamie Cansdale
    November 13, 2006 at 4:27 pm

    You are welcome to use TestDriven.NET 1.0 or the personal version of TestDriven.NET 2.0.
    http://www.testdriven.net/downloads/TestDriven.NET-1.0.915d.zip
    http://www.testdriven.net/downloads/TestDriven.Personal%20EULA.pdf

    You can’t redistribute them, but you can use them for free if you wish. I do request that professional developers purchase a license, but this is a request not a demand.

    Yes I encourage people to buy licenses. I’m not sure how I’d pay next months rent if I didn’t. I was however careful not to make it bait and switch!

  5. thycotic
    November 13, 2006 at 6:27 pm

    Everyone – thanks for the clarification.

    Sorry if I put anyone’s noses out of joint – just sharing my perspective.

    I think it is one of the hardest decisions to make with a product – how to have a free or trial edition and how to structure your pricing/versions.

  6. Jeff
    November 13, 2006 at 8:05 pm

    I don’t understand where anyone is being deceptive. Looks pretty cut and dry to me.

  7. http://
    May 14, 2007 at 7:45 pm

    The trouble is that *no* version of TestDriven.NET 2.0 will integrate with the Express editions of VB.NET or C#. Whereas TestDriven.NET 1.0 did so very nicely.

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