Why Charging For Software Can Make Sense

Free trial versions are commonplace for business software, but is giving away your product the best idea? Charging even a small fee may result in a more committed user base.

That’s the approach taken by customer service software provider Zendesk. While it does offer a basic free trial for its service, small companies can also sign up for a three-user licence which costs just $20 a year. That $20 is donated to a charity, so why does Zendesk do it?

“People don’t necessarily appreciate free,” Asia-Pacific managing director Michael Folmer Hansen told Lifehacker. “ZenDesk is a product where you need to have an experience. If it’s free people don’t care.”

Not every developer would agree. “By giving a customer a free version, that gets them familiar and creates that relationship,” said Vaughan Rowsell, CEO of POS software developer Vend. “Hopefully the small guy grows and becomes the medium-size guy. The idea is if they love your software, they will pay for it, but how are they going to learn to love your software without trying it?”

What’s your take: go free and wide and hope people will upgrade, or charge a nominal sum to weed out rubberneckers? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.

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