You Should Pay for the Software You Use

21 Mar 2013

A great piece by Farhad Manjoo on Why Did Google Reader Die?

Pay for the software you use. They might live longer.

Here are snippets from his article which just make so much sense…

Reader’s death illustrates a terrible downside of cloud software — sometimes your favorite, most indispensable thing just goes away. Yes, software would get discontinued back in the days when we relied on desktop apps, but when desktop software died it wasn’t really dead. If you’re still a fan of ancient versions of WordPerfect or Lotus 1–2–3, you can keep using them on your aging DOS box. But when cloud software dies, it goes away for good. If the company that’s killing it is decent, it may let you export your data. But you’ll never, ever be able to use its code again.

That’s why we should all consider Reader’s death a wake-up call — a reminder that any time you choose to get involved with a new app, you should think about the long haul. It’s not a good idea to hook up with every great app that comes along, even if it’s terrifically innovative and mind-bogglingly cheap or even free. Indeed, you should be especially wary if something seems too cheap. That’s because software is expensive. To build and maintain the best software requires engineering and design talent that will only stick around when a company has an obvious way to make money. If you want to use programs that last, it’s not enough to consider how well they work. You’ve also got to be sure that there’s a solid business model attached to the code.

But companies that take your money are at least signaling to you that their software is just as important to them as it is to you. On the other hand, companies that don’t take your money and won’t even say how the product you love will ever make money — hey, they’re fun for a romp, but don’t be surprised when they ditch town in the middle of the night.

I encourage you to do the same, if you can afford it. Free stuff online is great, but nothing is free forever. If you care for something, open your wallet.

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