Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Free-To-Paid Apps Problem

My colleague Sarah shared a new link with me yesterday on Google chat. She does that often because she reads a lot of blogs and twitters, and likes to share the same way I do, because that's how we learn. But I digress. The link she sent me was for a new "text-to-movie maker" called Xtranormal. I followed her link and checked the app out and it does indeed look pretty fantastic. It is a download, instead of web-based, which I suppose is neither here nor there. The Web site is very professional looking and the product itself seems slick and well-made. Maybe too well made. The "download" button is marked with a big, screaming BETA stamp. Immediately, I messaged her back that I wagered they'd be no longer free within a matter of months. That is a response of a wounded tech user, I realized almost immediately.

Although I do understand the process of alpha testing and beta testing a free product that will eventually be a paid product, the part I abhor is when the early-adopters are then penalized by losing rights to use the product for free. Yack Pack comes to mind. A few years ago, I was ALL ABOUT this product. I used it in my classroom for myriad projects and only about a year later, they went to a paid format. My school does not have a bursting budget. My organization doesn't either. We can't just add in expenses as they pop up. I think that if I have invested in the product from the start, they should honor that investment by allowing the early users to continue to use it for free. Voicethread is another example of a product that was completely free before, but has moved to fee-based if you want to use it on a class-wide basis. To be fair, they do still offer FREE individual accounts and FREE educator accounts. I use the heck out of mine and I'm so grateful for that option.

I might try Xtranormal out and I might fall in love with it. But what are the chances that I'll not be able to use it next year, after I've added projects to my curriculum based on the tool? Maybe this is all the lament of the side of me that resists change. Yes, I'm an early adopter but once I've adopted it, I hold on tight. Maybe the problem is mine.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is frustrating when you fall in love with an app (like Finale Notepad or Voicethread) and then they go on change it! I understand the way the capitalist world works, but it then makes me reticent to try too many new tools (like bojam) because they'll change without warning and it won't work for the kids.

Thanks for the shout btw.