Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Are you ready to pay for your web applications?

I was reading this post earlier today

This quoted Jason Fried, of 37 Signals, who has made a call to the web community “Please start charging for your applications. Free is not the future.”

And it got me thinking, what web applications am I ready to pay for that i would shell out $20 a year for?

Would I pay for Blogger? possibly but i'm thinking about moving it to Wordpress to be hosted on my own server for better url support anyway.

Would I pay $20 a year for Skype? Probably but would the 50 or so contacts I have also pay $20, probably not all, and therefor would it retain the same value if they weren't there?

Would I pay $20 for Digg? a site I visit daily and love, nope, but only because it replicates content i would consume from elsewhere.

Would I pay $20 for Facebook - No, i find it's value falling and wonder about all the people who paid for and built facebook apps last year, did they see a return?

Would I pay $20 for (my rss reader) - probably but I would also expect them to make a better product and ensure that they brought out a mobile version (which they've been promising forever...but never delivered) .

It's interesting that my view is changing because I'm 2 months away from launching my own web application that I look at advertising in a different light - is $5cpm sustainable (nope, i dont think it should really be any more than about $1-$2 for most sites) -can or even should most website apps be advertising supported?

(btw we will be launching advertising / freemium model that has upgraded features for paying customers).

So I put the question to you - what apps are you prepared to pay $20 a year for?



  1. Communications sites like skype and facebook are inherently difficult to monetize because they depend on the network effect which is impossible to acheive with a paid product.

    Regarding Digg, I dont think any user generated content site will ever/can ever work as a paid platform. So that leaves RSS readers and Blogger. People used to pay for RSS readers, and people do still pay for blogging tools like type pad (I think) and squarespace. I think it is entirely conceivable that an RSS reader would again be worth paying for in the right context. In any case, I think it all boils down to the application. I think productivity apps that dont depend on a network effect and have value even if you are the only user, and that add significant productivity value, will more and more be paid for.


  2. I might not pay $20 for any one of those apps, but say $20 for a bundle of say 3 of those apps? Maybe.

  3. I do pay for Flickr. I'd pay for Google Reader as well. I pay for my own Wordpress host (BlueHost) but before that I paid some to for their hosting, until it became to limiting.

    I don't pay for Google Docs, which I use occasionally. It cannot replace MSOffice for me.

  4. As for paid rss, I wrote a story about this last year - I called it "feed for a buck proposal"

    Another big issue I see time and time again are startups offering a "freemium" model but giving so much for free that they will never get people to move to the paid plans.

    -- Allen