Why software shouldn't be free

Aug 13, 2018

People have really a hard-time paying for software, online courses, digital subscriptions, and other similar online stuff. This really saddens me.

We have reached this point in our civilization where software (or any code-backed product) are commonplace like any physical goods. So why the discrimination?

I will tell you why.

People know that software, songs, courses etc can be easily mass distributed. That is, if you do make a software or song, you can almost distribute it for the same cost to 10s or millions of people. There is very little overhead.

And that is partly right. Maybe that’s why people don’t want to pay for software because they think a song/software developer has an unfair advantage. They are essentially just making copies of the code (which is free unlike physical photocopies) and earning sweet 100% profit from it.

Or maybe there is another reason. We have become so used to consuming free services from the “Silicon Valley” backed behemoths that we feel paying for a software is stupid on our part.

Think about it. All the popular online things you use, Facebook, Gmail, OneNote, Youtube, Google Search, etc, everything is free. And this has installed the habit of free software in all of us.

But all of this comes at costs that are hidden to us. For starters, these companies feed on your data to serve you advertisements. They profile you so that they can help advertisers sell you better.

I understand this might be fine for the most of us. Right, who are we in a pool of 8 billion people.

Let Google profile me, let them know every minor detail about me, from my secret crush to my credit card numbers, it doesn’t matter because they probably won’t do anything bad to me.

And that is right. But by allowing them to do so, you are forcing a habit upon you of using free software. And that’s bad for indie software creators, those that don’t have the technology to “profile” you and just want to provide pure value for chunk change in return.

Now, this is like supporting global well-settled industries and discouraging local produce. Or in another way, allowing the already successful ones to succeed and stopping the wannabes from even getting started (all because they are charging you for 2x-1000x value that they can add).

Now I can’t be your moral guide here, you should do what you feel is right.

But next time you decide not to purchase the software just because it charges 2 cups of coffee, think again.

Maybe the value that product adds to you is nothing in comparison to the cents it charges.