Everyone who is involved in technology in any way has been singing the praises of free Web applications for small business. This software as a service, or SaaS, has got to be the hottest thing since sliced bread. The argument goes that you get all the features you need (note that I said all the features you need, not all the features), don’t have to install your own server or maintain it, and it is free, free, free!
That’s great. Free is wonderful. But why should technology be different from the rest of life where free usually means not as good as what you pay for? What do you think the quality of free solutions is typically? Do you have a free office or free employees? When you have to send a salesman out into the field, does he get a free plane ticket or a free car? And if you got all those things for free, do you think they would all be just as good as the paid versions?
Obviously the answer is no.
I have been complaining about how horrid Google, Google Apps, Gmail, Google Analytics, and even Google Adwords are for years. But the whole world seems to think that Google is wonderful – just look at the stock price.
Everything is free, my that’s wonderful. Yes, it is free because:
1. They show you ads while you use the services
2. You Gmail isn’t private – Google captures and analyzes it so they can show you and others more targeted ads. Isn’t that great? Your customers’ emails and your most sensitive business communications are essentially public information if you use Gmail.
3. Their support is horrid.
4. Their support is horrid.
5. Their support is horrid.
Did I make my point? It’s one thing to use free software. It’s another to get no support. I get hundreds of emails a year from people who have been screwed by Google’s free and paid services. And yet no one seems to care, certainly not Google.
I’m not the only one. Read this account of what might be the worst experience I’ve ever heard using Google Apps.
Apparently, the paid support from Google was as ineffective as the free support.
When you lose your data and your email system is down how happy will you be that the app was free? When they shut off your Adwords account with no explanation, how glad will you be that you were able to show ads for free on your website? The downtime will cost you far more than you saved on software costs.
Come on, people. Stop settling for garbage just because it is free.