The true cost of free business apps

There are some great pieces of software available for no charge - but will free business apps actually cost you more in the long run?

Posted on 18 July 2017 -
Tibus BY Tibus

Nobody likes paying for things, and especially nobody likes paying for things that you can get for free. But free isn’t always the cheapest option in the long-term.

Even profitable businesses often choose to rely on free business apps over paid alternatives. As a result, they can encounter some of the pitfalls that accompany this approach. These include:

No commitment

One of the great things about free software or services is that you have no contract with or commitment to the provider. But the reverse is also true: they have no contractual obligations or commitment to you. If they opt to cease operations at the drop of a hat, there is nothing you can do about that except hurriedly find an alternative supplier and hope there is no interruption or lasting damage to your business.

No long-term vision

If you think about, there are very few cases where a free business app is a sensible long-term option. The developers of a free app don’t stand to gain anything from it unless they can at some stage start charging you for the service; they can build their technology to the stage that a profitable competitor wants to buy the app (to either fold it into their paid-for operation or close it down); or they are doing it as a labour of love. If it’s the latter, there is no guarantee that the love will last and you cannot expect maintaining the app to by high on their list of priorities when the going gets tough (for you or them). Why not get in touch with the app developers to ask them about their plans for the future?

No track record

Is there something on offer that is particularly drawing you to the app in question beyond its price tag? Do the people behind the operation have a proven track record of creating digital products with the know-how and financial staying power to achieve and sustain success? If not, be wary of allying your business’ prospects with theirs. Show the sort of diligence you would afford any non-digital supplier to your business.

While an app might be free to install and use, the true costs can be much higher. The more you entrust the app with data or functions related to your business, the more costly it can be if you suddenly - and not of your own choosing - have to untangle your organisation from the app.