The beginning of the end of freemium? LogMeIn pulls free service

22 Jan 2014

Are the days of freemium numbered? The news that remote access player LogMeIn’s free service is no more could be the start of a broader trend, inherently altering the internet landscape we’ve all become attuned to in the past decade.

It is understood that as well as LogMeIn, players like Sugarsync, Droplr and Mailstrom have revealed plans to move to a paid subscription model.

In a blog post yesterday, LogMeIn said: “After 10 years, LogMeIn’s free remote access product, LogMeIn Free, is going away. We will be unifying our portfolio of free and premium remote access products into a single offering.

“This product will be a paid-only offering, and it will offer what we believe to be the best premium desktop, cloud and mobile access experience available on the market today. We will be notifying those impacted by the change in the coming days and weeks.

“Starting in January, we will gradually migrate users of LogMeIn-branded remote access offerings and Ignition-branded remote access offerings to a single, premium access product,” LogMeIn said.

Cloud evolving: the next business model

It’s not really the end of freemium, just the maturing of the cloud business model and it will suit certain players in specific niches to go subscription – they owe it to their employees and they owe it to their investors.

The notion of services we take for granted, like Gmail or Hotmail or even Dropbox, being no longer free sounds like a travesty at first but then you realise that in Dropbox’s case, for example, it is primarily a business and of course to get more storage beyond the freemium offer you pay for it.

Freemium was merely the bait to entice you to do more and pay for more. It’s marketing, really.

But what if the freemium element that we all enjoy and exploit was no more?

There is of course no indication that Dropbox or other perfectly-honed popular cloud services like Evernote plan to change their freemium services any time soon. In fact, Dropbox is pretty much baked into some standard Android smartphones, like HTC devices, with every picture you take being stored in your personal cloud. Of course this fills up rather quickly and the next step is to acquire more storage. Clever. And necessary.

While LogMeIn and a number of others have begun a move away from freemium, this trend may really be confined to niche-but-necessary and useful services rather than mass consumer/business services like Dropbox or Evernote.

It’s not really the end of freemium; it’s not even the beginning of the end. It is, to paraphrase former British prime minister Winston Churchill, just the end of the beginning.

The business model for cloud is being returned to match business reality.

Sunset image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years