Degrees of “Free”

In this week’s episode of Build & Analyze, Marco Arment explains the challenges of competing with free. At some point over the last few years I’ve migrated away from free services for anything I consider essential. I’d like to say this was calculated but this shift took place at a subconsious level. This shift has two reasons:

  1. No Monetization = Temporary
    I don’t want to waste my time in something temporary. I’ve been burned too many times over the years investing my time and effort learning a free service or app that disappears with little or no warning. If something is good, I want it to stick around and I understand that requires money.

  2. Free is Not Free
    While some apps are free downloads, they are rarely “free”. I end up paying with intrusive ads or information about myself. I’d much rather pay a few dollars to begin with. In my book, that is much cheaper.

Applying this to Instapaper, not only did I pay for the app on my iPhone and iPad, I also am a subscriber and pay $1 per month for this ridiculously useful service that I use every day.