I’ve been against paying for Internet services for most of my life but have recently changed my stance. During my school/college years when finding deals was customary, I would learn how to find music, download apps, and acquire services – all for free.
Recently, it seems that both the offerings and the prices have leveled off where I find myself saying, “Hey, that’s kind of worth it”. Worth it for less hassle of finding and maintaining free services and products as well as peace of mind and overall better experience.
I think certain companies are using same strategy of offering free services that will “hook” users and then later ask or offer a premium services that most consumers will be hard pressed to find a reason to say not to.
I’ve already pulled the trigger on two services: Google Play and CrashPlan.
Google Play replaced my Spotify subscription as a cheap way to stream music over the web and on mobile devices. I wasn’t happy about moving away from other “music gathering techniques” however the price and the service are worth while.
CrashPlan is an online cloud backup service that offers peace of mind to users who wish to backup their data safely and securely. I love it and know my data is safe from system crashes, viruses, data loss, etc.
Now I’ll turn it to three services I use today for free and love. I’m just on the fence about paying for the premium offerings:
Evernote – I use Evernote for archiving all things personal and professional. Taking notes at work, tracking projects, clipping technical articles and so on. Recipes, favorite articles I come across, movies I want to see, and countless other reasons. I have over 1,500 items clipped to date and so far haven’t paid a dime.
Evernote Premium – $45 per year
- Offline syncing – this is the big one. It would be great to have access to my whole trove of archives for digging through on a long flight. With the free service the app needs to pull from the cloud which is kind of lame. But it works great if you’re always near a cell/WiFi connection which most people are 99% of their lives.
- Increased upload capacity – the free service puts a cap on the total data uploaded each month, but I’ve never gotten close to it so this isn’t really critical.
- Note collaboration between uses – don’t care
- Better mobile security features – don’t care – my phone already has a passcode, no need (for me) to have an additional passcode
- Enhanced searching (in PDFs) – this could be nice, but not really critical
- Presentation features – don’t care
Feedly – While I’m still not fully over Google Reader shutting down, Feedly has filled in the gaps pretty well and I would say I’m fully transitioned/adapted/dedicated to using their service. Feedly and RSS is something I use daily. A lot. Multiple times, every day. It’s how I keep up with everything and stay on top of the news and current events, both mainstream and special interests. Feedly is free (like Google Reader was) however they offer an premium package.
Feedly Pro- $45 per year
- Search within content – this would be nice, but I can use Google for searching on past articles
- Faster updates – don’t care
- One-click saving – don’t care
- One-click to Evernote – don’t care
- Create custom URL – lame, don’t care
- 48 hour customer support – who’s really paying for support with this product?
- Karma supporting the Feedly team – sorry, team
- Participate on future product development – don’t care
Fitbit – Ah, my beloved Fitbit. For over two years I’ve worn some type of Fitbit product, starting with The Ultra and then moving to The One. They’re about $100 and worth every penny. I actually lost my first “One” on a plane and immediately purchased a replacement. They also replaced my Ultra for free when it broke, so their customer service is pretty outstanding. Anyway, their dashboards and data services are offered for free after you purchase one of the $100 devices. They offer a premium package which basically include more in depth reporting options, all of which are pretty slick.
Fitbit Premium – $50 per year
- Benchmarking – Could be cool to compare yourself (Weight, Activity, Sleep) against your peers in the Fitibit user community
- Enhanced food, sleep and activity reports – eh, interesting but not worth the money I don’t think
- Trainer – I’m skeptical on how well a “digital trainer” would work…
- Export – this is kind of bullshit, because where I am a fan of data exporting and user freedom, I think it’s piss poor they require you to pay to export data in CSV/XLS. They need to offer this for free, just like Google does and just like everyone should.
Not sure if I’ll be subscribing to any of these premium services any time soon however I just thought it made sense to document the fact that for the first time web companies are finding the solution to making money from their public user base that isn’t directly related to advertising as it was in the past. Most of the Internet was always free for me so it’s in a way unsettling to think of the future where good services are worth their price and I’m paying for everything. However as these things are introduced the open source community may scoop them up and begin to offer competitor services for free. This in turn will keep the premium providers on their toes and force them to always improve their product. Long live the free Internet.