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‘The Google Effect’ — How Will You Compete With Free?

30 Jul 2015 by Howard M Cohen

You’ve significantly invested your time, effort and money to build the next great app. You carefully identified and validated the market need, designed a great spec and nearly finished coding. You’ve already started to plan your marketing and sales campaign.

Then you get the word: Google has just introduced a new app that does pretty much what your app does — and it’s free.

If this has happened to you, take heart. There are more than 50 apps listed on the “More from Google” page, so at least 49 other Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) share your pain.

Microsoft takes it one step further.

Have you ever stopped to wonder how Microsoft still sells full versions of its Office productivity suite when the company offers Office Web apps for free?

A popular saying attributed to Robert Half and borrowed by country singer Tim McGraw in one of his songs goes, “Free advice is usually worth the price.”

Ultimately, the same is true for most things, including software. Free software is usually very limited in functionality, incomplete or lacking highly desired features. If your software is robust enough, it won’t have to compete with the free offerings.

The Microsoft example is a good one. The Web apps give you base functionality and can be useful when you’re on the road and just need a tool to make quick, simple edits. But for real document creation, you want a more robust product.

The Swiss Army knife.

While we’re on the subject of a robust solution, think about the relative value of a simple pocketknife compared to a Swiss Army knife with far more tools available and much broader functionality. The Swiss Army knife is a well-diversified implement that can be used for many purposes.

Free software, like a simple pocketknife, is usually very limited in capability. So the more diverse your software is in the value it delivers, the better your insulation against the “Google Effect.”

This does not mean every software product needs to be a suite. Free software often doesn’t include any management or utility functionality and, in most cases, is incapable of supporting more sophisticated work.

Gain insight.

We’ve all watched technology emerge and quickly become commoditized. It seems with every passing year, the commoditization cycle gets faster. The best way to slow down commoditization of your applications is to make sure they’re as robust as possible with easy cloud delivery, full management capability, great extensibility and a diverse selection of related tools.

Contact your Insight support team to discuss your specific challenges in more depth. We provide excellent architectural and development services to help you assure your product will beat the free entries every time.