How Commercial Software, can fight against the Free Softwares?


Before you jumping in to making of a software you looked in to the market and realized there is enough market share. Now you made it, wanted to test them. You made it free as a beta Phase, you now started making commercial version of the same and by retaining the free version with limited features for people to try.

Guess what? A new player comes and provides a me too version of the software for free, only revenue channel being advertisement inside the product.

How do you fight the free version?

Now let us look at same problem solved by the big software companies, I am just taking 2 examples.

  1. Microsoft Windows VS Linux
  2. Camtasia snagit VS Firefox addons Screen Grab VS WINK (Free)

Microsoft Windows – People continue to make fun of the “Blue screen of Death” in Windows, but funny bone people continue to run their machines with the same Microsoft Windows OS at least the majority of them.

When the threat came from Linux for Windows, I remember every media said that it was death of Windows and even now people say that web will be the new OS, that is still speculative.

What did Microsoft Windows do?
If I am not wrong, they came with lot of advertisements to educate users about the benefits of using Windows. They came with Windows XP SP1, SP2 & SP3 and fixed as much as they could. They executed it well.

I believe the marketing spend on Microsoft XP could have been almost or significantly nil when XP sales was at its peak. Word of mouth still holds good in business. Techies still continue to say XP is stable compared to Vista and there is no major innovation in Vista, that people have upgrade to Vista.

To say, we are still dependent on Microsoft for most of our office productivity. Aren’t we?

The second story is the most significant one. Their product is easy to create and it requires less effort and they still continue to be leaders in their USP. I am taking about TechSmith the makers of Camtasia Snagit.

They did face the similar issue of free software from the open source community.

The popularity of Firefox add ons created a market slow down for Camtasia Snagit and on top of that was the Freeware software called WINK, it did almost the same functionality of Snagit and it was free and forums was available for support.

How did TechSmith Camtasia Snagit fight?
Camtasia Snagit 7.2.5 the earlier commercial version of the software was given free.

Do you want to know why they made it free?
The story goes like this in the Indian shop vendors or Medical Shops, If you ask for a medicine and if it is currently out of stock, they will send one of their members to collect the same medicine from the medical store just opposite their store or even few streets away to procure the same and give it to their customers. It is that the customer gets a feeling that any medicine he needs can be obtained. And that he will come back to the same medical store if he needed one.

TechSmith didn’t want end users to try free software instead allowed users to try the previous commercial version for free.

I use Camtasia Snagit free edition as I experience the reliable, proven and easy to use screen capturing/recording software. BTW, I have already tried the software and its features, and even know each and every interface. It is just that it is easy to use, Comfortable. The only feeling being left out, that I am unable to use the advanced features, which are available in the current commercial version.

For the extra mileage they have contributed few projects called Jing Project and ScreenCast
That takes care of community etc etc

Final Notes: Winning over Free is difficult, but not impossible. If you believe in Free, you can’t win over Free. Undo the learning and fight against Free. If you wish to.

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2 thoughts on “How Commercial Software, can fight against the Free Softwares?

  1. Interesting post.

    I have a few comments.

    I am not a representative of TechSmith but I am pretty sure this was not an attempt to “fight free software”. Many commercial software vendors offer there software free in magazines and similar. And this was just what happened in this case. TechSmith offered the products together with I believe a German magazine and then the news was picked up by a large number of bloggers and suddenly the free version spread like wildfire.

    Sending free copies with magazines is neither a sneaky tactic or anything new. Software publishers has used this tactic to send older releases of their software for free even before the internet existed to spread their products.

    Second of all, I don’t think there is a fight. Both free and commercial software has a place in the market.

    I believe that freeware and shareware is needed because it’s creative, opens up new ideas and give access to solutions to many people. While commercial software is important because to create a truly outstanding product (like Snagit or Camtasia) you need an incredible amount of development which “free” developers don’t have the possibility to do.

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