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Louis Kessler’s Behold Blog » Blog Entry           prev Prev   Next next

A Free Ride? - Tue, 15 Nov 2011

I got a few emails asking me if I was planning to have a free version of Behold. Once version 2.0 comes out with editing, people would purchase Behold and use it to create and update their genealogy. Then they would send it to relatives, but their relatives would not be able to view it because they did not have Behold. So maybe, I should make a free viewer version of Behold that can be sent to those people to view it.

That was my initial thinking. When version 2.0 is released, I’d have the paid editing version, and the free viewing version. But then I started to realize some problems with that idea.

I’d have to maintain two versions, or one version with some sort of an unlocking system for the extra editing features. Not too difficult, but potentially problematic and hackable. And I’d still have to have the full trial version, so people can test out the editing. Very messy.

Part of my thinking was that I’d be able to send Behold to all those free download sites, and millions of people can download and try the free version. Many of them would surely upgrade … or wouldn’t they. This article: Why Free Plans Don’t Work attracted my attention today, and even though it was talking about online subscription sites, its message came through clearly.

So I’ll have millions of free users. That means I’ll send my newsletter out to millions of people. Have you checked how much SMTP services cost to service that many people? Then if only 1 out of every 10,000 free users sent me one message a day, I’d get hundreds of questions and queries each day to answer. I wonder how much time that would leave over for development? I probably would have to run dedicated servers for the email and website. More administrative time and expense again taking me away for my real goal.

I have now concluded that getting big with no front end cash to pre-pay the expenses to support that infrastructure is a way to dangle a potential catastrophe in front of me when its not necessary. I’ve concluded its the wrong way to go.

Instead, I will always keep the 45 day free trial available. And the 60 day moneyback guarantee is there as well. So that’s a 105 day risk-free period you can use Behold, not counting additional free trials which I currently still allow. Behold is not expensive. It is $20 for the next 8 days, and then $40 after that. Version 2.0 will probably settle at $50 or $60. That’s a one time cost with free upgrades for life, which in the long term makes Behold cheaper than most other genealogy software.

So with no free version, what about your Aunt Mary who you sent your genealogy data to. How will she view it? Well, the thing I forgot to mention is that you won’t need Behold to view the data. Currently, you can export the Everything Report to HTML and put it up on a website or send it to someone and they can view it in their web browser. Or you can export it to RTF format which can be read and viewed by almost any word processing program. I’ll probably at some time add PDF export as well, which anyone can view. Finally, even if you send the the GEDCOM, they can always download Behold on 45 day trial and use it to view the data.

I’m sorry that there isn’t going to be a free ride with Behold. What this will provide instead is a software author who will have a smaller but enthusiastic and supportive audience who he will continue to have time to listen to and respond to. I hope you would agree that this benefit outweighs everything else.

*** Eight days to Version 1.0 and counting *** :-)

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