Class warfare? Yes, it’s the have’s vs. the have not’s. The free app user, vs. those who can afford to rent apps. Rental apps? Who does that? Free apps just don’t come with the power and sophistication that rental apps can provide. Here are some examples.
Free? Or, Buy The Month?
My little play on words should tell you something about the change in the application landscape in recent years, probably started by Google with the free Gmail, Docs, and other free apps which have become so commonplace, especially on mobile devices.
A few years ago Microsoft licensed Windows and Windows Phone to various PC and mobile device manufacturers for a fee per unit sold. Along came the iPhone and Android OS and the whole industry changed.
iOS and OS X is free on each iPhone and iPad, and on the Mac, instantly and easily installed, thanks to the various app stores.
Just as Google provides a plethora of nominally useful apps for free, Apple’s versions of Microsoft Office Lite– Pages, Numbers, and Keynote– are free for Mac, iPhone, and iPad users.
Microsoft, the purveyor of Windows and Office relic software, has had to change its approach from software sales to a hybrid of free and monthly rentals. Office for iPhone and iPad are both free to use, but the most sophisticated features are available through a monthly Office 365 subscription model.
That’s a monthly rental, folks, and not much different than Adobe’s very successful efforts to charge for the company’s highly acclaimed and professional level Creative Suite apps– by the month.
Have’s And Have Not’s
Top me, all these changes have created a kind of class warfare, whereby the great unwashed masses of iPhone, iPad, and Android device owners, get access to free applications, but to use more sophisticated software is a monthly rental, a fee paid for by business, or individuals who need the heavy lifting provided by suites of software which once had a price tag to purchase, but which now become monthly rentals (a way to increase revenue and profit if there ever was one).
Apple can afford to giveaway Office Lite (Pages, Numbers, Keynote) because the company makes so much profit on hardware sales. Google can afford to giveaway applications because the model is dependent upon a larger number of users who become part of the product that Google sells to advertisers. Adobe’s Creative Suite of professional level applications do not have much competition, which may explain why the company’s move to a software rental model has been so successful.
Microsoft, which still extracts billions of profits from the Windows and Office hegemony in business, is the odd duck out, and had to resort to a hybrid model, whereby some software is free to use, but cloud connectivity and other features are part of a monthly subscription model (which businesses seem to have adopted).
It’s class warfare. If you don’t have the money to play in the big leagues, you’ll be relegated to the free apps from Google and Apple. If you have both money and a need for more sophistication and capability, someone– you, your business, your boss– will have to pay the piper. Each month. Forever.