Are Free Trials the Answer?

I was having a great conversation of Matt of SayYeah during Thursday nights SproutUp. Naturally our discussion went to MeetKipu, an upcoming product of SayYeah which helps you track time.

One of the discussions we had revolved around the business model, specifically, will there be a freemium component, a simple free trial or none at all in Kipu? While debating the merits of free trials and freemium models (where you get some features for free but have to pay for the rest) Matt made an interesting comment: most graphic designers out there learned on a pirated version of Photoshop, but once they decide to become designers professionally they will buy a licensed version. I’ve never heard of free trials being promoted in this way but it is certainly true:

  • Most graphic designers I know have learned on a pirated copy of Photoshop;
  • Most students I know do use a pirated version of Office (though many are now converting to the cheaper version);
  • Most techies I know who built towers back in the day did use pirated version of Windows;
  • etc. etc.

Yet in nearly each one of these cases once there was a solid, financial case for buying a licensed copy the individuals did. Once the Business Case was made, they were comfortable with the product and had the cash theypaid. Freemium Models restrict features so we don’t learn the full power, potential or have the ability to learn. Free trials are rarely long enough to unlock an app. I don’t believe untimed free trials are an answer at all but it made me wonder if timed trials or freemium were the answer at all.