Department of Free and PLM

Department of Free and PLM

What do you think about the power of FREE? The following article in UK Guardian made me think again about the power of free influence. Times loses almost 90% of online readership. Take a look on the following quote:

The Times has lost almost 90% of its online readership compared to February since making registration mandatory in June, calculations by the Guardian show.

Unregistered users of are now “bounced” to a Times+ membership page where they have to register if they want to view Times content. Data from the web metrics company Experian Hitwise shows that only 25.6% of such users sign up and proceed to a Times web page; based on custom categories (created at the Guardian) that have been used to track the performance of major UK press titles online, visits to the Times site have fallen to 4.16% of UK quality press online traffic, compared with 15% before it made registration compulsory on 15 June.

In my view, this is an important lesson for everybody who is playing FREE game. FREE is very powerful and dangerous at the same time. PLM is certainly not free. However, to understand the power is important. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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  • Oleg,
    This is a very interesting article. I think the experience with the Times is more about the change in process than anything else. The registration did not require money but people were still unwilling to fill out the form. It really comes down to a value exchange. Is the information they would have to provide worth gaining access to the website. Given the fact that there are numerous sites that provide news without requiring registration most people chose to go elsewhere. This was obviously a big miscalculation by the Times but is not necessarily an indictment of “FREE”. As I discussed in my blog “Free Software Tomorrow” Pricing can definitely hinder adoption but if the value is there pricing should matter . If the Times had offered something extra for registering they might have done better. People don’t mind sharing information or even paying for something if there is a clear value win for them.

  • Roberto Picco

    This is what I call “information bulimia”. People behave like a child in a candy shop. If he can eat everything for free he will eat everything without tasting nothing and the overall experience is deluding… If he knows he can eat only 5 candies per day, he will look carefully for the best ones and eat them tasting every bite…

  • Avinash Durge

    You said it right…. FREE is very powerful and dangerous at the same time… yahoo did the same thing couple of years back by asking money for pop3, smtp access and they lost huge user base.
    In PLM it is more dangerous… you might get free PLM but you will not get free support. Even if customer go for this free PLM to save initial license investments what if the vendor do the same thing which thetimes did. PLM holds complicated and valuable data structures and it is not easy to migrate to other PLM.
    So one should avoid FREE PLM until it is not full open source 

  • beyondplm

    Avinash, Thanks for your comment! I agree, PLM keeps data structures. However, why you differentiate it on “fully open source”? Why Free vs. Free Open Source will be different? Best, Oleg

  • beyondplm

    Roberto, Thanks for such an interesting association :). So, what danger do you see in “free PLM candy”? ;). Best, Oleg

  • beyondplm

    Dear Sporter, Thanks for commenting! I think, Times case demonstrated a power of “entry barrier”. This is why FREE is powerful – you elimination the initial “value prop” decision. The biggest question is such effect may happen also for enterprise organizations and not only for the consumer market. Partial experiment with open sources, shows that it is kinda true. What is your view? Best, Oleg

  • Brian

    I agree with Sporter. Pricing may hinder adoption but the value proposition calculation should be able to demonstrate the value of a product (any product).
    To Avinash: The Open Source model for PLM and ERP relies on the supplier of the product essentially guaranteeing that they will continue to offer the product in the same way into the future. In both of these complex areas you can download fully featured core products that will support your work processes and it will cost you nothing in external payments. Naturally if you want help putting it together/implmenting or want to stay up with the latest enhancements or want access to “premium” feature sets then you will have to pay something for that. As far as a “free” system suddenly requiring users to pay for it, as you suggest could happen, is that any different from an existing PLM vendor who charges licence fees potentially doubling their licence costs without warning? I would suggest that neither is likely to happen these days and the results in both cases would be disasterous for the solution provider.

  • Roberto Picco

    Free PLM must be

    1) Something really FREE, not a limited version of a commercial bigger one
    2) Something really USEFUL
    3) Something that will naturally lead customer to ADDITIONAL paid services/software

    My 2 cents…

  • beyondplm

    Roberto, agree 100% with your 1-2-3. I definitely see that the time of ‘free trials’ is over. This is especially true for types of software that requires an additional investment by a customer (implementation, services etc.). thanks for commenting! Oleg