Free to Benefit from Freemium

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Is freemium a good option for consumers? In short, the answer is an overwhelming yes as long as the company creating the freemium app pursues the strategy in the right way.

When it’s well-executed, a freemium app creates a win-win for the developers of the software and its users. Many users who would have never benefited from any of an app’s features gain access to at least some of them. And users who purchase the premium features get to vote with their dollars for those features that are most important to them. Over time, particularly as new features are added, some “pro” features of an app can also trickle down to the free tier.

Because freemium apps get more broadly distributed than ones that require payment up front, consumers benefit from more feedback coming in to app developers as well as a broader pool of both users and those who can recommend by word of mouth. And if things go according to plan, growth in customer-base can help justify new features and other improvements.

But there is some risk involved. Companies must balance how much functionality they put in the free version of an app and what they reserve for paid features. If developers omit too much of the key functionality of the app, consumers may not be able to get a good feel of its value or may even sentence it to a premature uninstall.

With our new Dispatch Lite release, I think we’ve been mindful to strike a good balance, preserving the core functionality of aggregating multiple Internet connections without creating too many limitations in the free version. It will be a helpful option for those who need to occasionally turn their broadband speed “up to 11”. Paid users, however, gain access to a number of features such as automatic startup anytime 2+ Internet connections are available, unlimited uptime, and the ability to tune settings for specific applications.

Bundling with Connectify Hotspot will also, of course, help users discover the functionality of both apps. On the face of it, the apps appear to be the inverse of each other — Hotspot channels multiple devices through one connection while Dispatch enables one device to access multiple connections. But, of course, they’re really two pieces of the same puzzle: getting as many devices as possible to achieve the fastest possible Internet speed. Using Connectify Hotspot with Dispatch allows products that have limits on app development (such as the iPad) or even no open app development (PlayStation Vita) to take advantage of multiple broadband paths simultaneously.

Ultimately, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Revenue aside, one incredibly popular mobile game, for example, makes it impossible to proceed unless you start virally marketing it. Some consumers may not care about that; others certainly do and they’re not aware of that Rubicon until they are asked to cross it. Even apps that consumers might want to pay for sometimes suffer because their naturally lower download counts make them difficult to find. But a well-done freemium app is easy to find, worth finding, and for many, worth supporting.

Alex Gizis is CEO of Connectify. Follow him on Twitter @alexgizis and visit www.connectify.me.

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