For many years Mac360 had a tradition of Friday Freebies, with yours truly, The Value Vixen™ reviewing free Mac software. Are those days gone forever?
Sure, Mac users can still find free software, but, as the Mac grows in popularity, and sales grow, more and more applications and utilities come with a price tag. What of those excellent free software titles of yesterday, the labors of love that we used to love but not have to pay for? Sometimes they just disappear. Sometimes they get a price tag.
That Was Then
Don’t misunderstand my intent. I pay for Mac software. If I use it, I fork over the cash.
Maybe I have to give my husband Hamburger Helper instead of dinner out to pay for some little utility I fell in love with. Maybe the kids get a couple of cardboard boxes to play with instead of a new toy.
Whatever the situation, I’m not averse to paying for what I use on my Mac. I’m just wondering what has happened to what seemed to be a plethora of excellent Mac software titles that have disappeared or gone commercial.
This Is Now
Here are a few examples. Remember iGTD? It was the little Getting Things Done application that towered over some commercial software.
iGTD’s developer has been hired by the folks who develop and market Things, another classy but commercial get things done utility. So, iGTD is no more. Discontinued.
NetNewsWire is, arguably, the best Mac RSS reader. At one time it had a price tag, so never showed up on my Friday Freebies. Then, the new owner, NewsGator, dropped the price and NetNewsWire became free. Yay!!
Free comes with a price. NewsGator couldn’t figure out how to make money with RSS feeds, so NetNewsWire has a $10 price tag to remove the ads that show up in the new version.
This does not mean that free software for Macs does not exist. There are plenty of titles, though most have been around for many years, many are open sourced, and available with a click from OpenSourceMac.org.
Out of the tens of thousands of Mac applications and utilities, only a few dozen have made a popular name, and escaped the work in progress mantel.
Even open source efforts like Mozilla’s popular web browser, Firefox, have commercial ties. Free for us to use, yet Mozilla collects money from Google whenever we search using Firefox, and click on a Google ad.
The Search For Free
I took a few minutes to scan my Mac’s software for any new app or utility I’ve added in the last year that was also free. There’s only one. VLC, the media player that plays what QuickTime doesn’t, which means it seldom gets used.
How about Quicksilver, the venerable keyboard file launcher? It’s free, right? Right. And development has crawled to a near standstill.
Does all Mac software need a commercial incentive? No. Open source projects tend to maintain development and progress over time.
So, what free software do you use on your Mac? Is open source (ala Mozilla’s Firefox and Thunderbird), or simply a labor of love by a Mac developer? Do you fear that development will stop because there’s no money involved? Share your favorite free Mac apps and utilities with other Mac360 readers.