The demise of the LogMeIn Free remote control software early this year offers some insights into how cloud and Freemium products, once mature, can force very large price increases on users at almost no notice. LogMeIn Free has been a very good free remote desktop control package for 10 years. We have used various of their paid for products for close to 10 years and found them to be some of the best in the sector. For the user who occasionally needs remote access to their home from work or work from home, it was perfect and didn’t require the opening of ports on firewalls which many of the early free alternatives did (VNC etc).
The driver here seem to be eliminating users that don’t generate any revenue. The LogMeIn Central product can still be purchased and used with a new product which then allows someone to remotely manage as many remote clients as you like from the console. When the free version was withdrawn, LogMeIn’s sales and support teams were made unavailable due to too many calls and their facebook/Forum/twitter pages were awash with angry users.
The point is not that LogMeIn have chosen to abandon the free version, but that they did so at 7 days’ notice and left people who purchased apps on phones and tablets to control their free versions paying for both ends. A late issued offer of discounts for the Android and iOS versions served to demonstrate that the needs of the customers and the perception of the clients had been given very little thought. Or rather that the users were considered to be locked in and the short period of notification was specifically designed to make it hard to migrate.
Freemium is often about market share and businesses need to give thought to the risk of the suppliers and services they use. Assuming that the choices are just about ease of use and price is naïve to the point of recklessness. Sustainability of the supplier business model, data security, continuity of service and switching costs need to be looked at.
LogMeIn have had good products and 10 years of an excellent free remote control service. When they introduced it the alternative was £20 a month from GoToMyPC or pcAnywhere. One was expensive, the other very cumbersome; LogMeIn was a revolution! They are now listed, the market is mature or declining due to the lower usage of PCs and cloud access to files, and they have decided to gouge their clients.
The risk to them is that the people who are paying them £10,000s or pounds a year think that they are next or that a competitor now decides that they can offer a free version to replace them. TeamViewer seems to be the preferred choice. The 5.75% increase in share price shows that the shareholders are winners, for now. It may be that LogMeIn will discover when it comes to renewing the licenses for its enterprise products, some users will be migrating to TeamViewer, GoToMyPC/Citrix, WebEx/Cisco. We won’t have been alone in taking the chance to compare the competitors as a result of the bad press, but we will have a very good look at the security, switching costs, APIs and financial health of the alternatives before we think of changing suppliers.