I am sure you’ve seen software selling with free for life support and updates. And every time I see that I cringe. Because I know that either seller is at best naive or at worst deceptive.

I know it looks good to market that way and it makes customers feel kind of good and safe. Well, at least until they stop to think about it. Free for life support and updates is just not sustainable. You can bet that if product becomes successful these terms will end or company will simply go out of business.

Why this is not sustainable? Because you have to pay people to support and develop products and unless there is revenue to do that there will be no support and no updates. As you add more and more customers you will get more and more support requests as well as feature requests. Since your customer base cumulatively grows over time so will support and feature requests and they will outgrow the resources you have to handle them so situation will become unsustainable.

I can see it being somewhat sustainable if all you do is not add any features to the product and try to minimize the support in every possible way through FAQ’s and community forums and do not have dedicated support personnel. But that to me is sign of dead product, and dead products don’t sell. Customers expect the activity and signs of life from the product and if there is none, there will be no sales.

Why not honestly address that up front?  For example, we include 12 months of support and updates with all our products. I think that is honest and fair. If you find products, support and additions we make useful you can elect to renew support and updates subscription for additional 12 months but there is no pressure on you to do so…

I also think that this model is much better than minor/major upgrade policy where there is no charge for minor releases but there is a charge for major upgrades.

One thing I know is that everything that you buy can be broken into its monthly cost because nothing lasts forever. Either the product/service bought will stop working and reach end of its useful life, or we will reach end of our life. Either way there is a fixed amount of time product or service can be used and thus there is a monthly cost associated with it. You can break it per month or lump it up in single sum for 12 months or some fixed period. But nothing lasts forever.

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