I'm trying to find examples of large software companies that have used freemium (whereby there is a free product with a paid upgrade to a premium product).
Anyone know of any companies that either offer this now or offered it at some point in their history?
I think Salesforce.com had a free product at various points in its history, but would like to learn about other examples.
My favorites that I refer to often: LogMeIn (only recently public) and eFax (J2 Comm.). Both are premium communication services, and both have typically a 10:1 free to paid ratio, i.e. premium comm services convert well.
Zynga isn't public....yet. The virtual goods model is often a cousin of the freemium model.
BONUS ROUND! EFax free-to-premium ratios, courtesy of their SEC filings:
Completely Freemium Based Red Hat (NYSE:RHT) is close to freemium although you could say they don't support the free version.
Companies that use Freemium and other models I would consider google (NASDAQ:GOOG) docs a freemium model for business.
Hoovers, a sub of Dun&Bradstreet (NYSE:DNB) provides basic financial information on companies for free but charges a subscription for more detailed information.
FindLaw, a Thomson Reuters (NYSE:TRI) business, provides online legal information and for law firms as a paid services but also provides a free service for consumers.
Non-public but sizable Getty Images (gettyimages.com) provides a large set of images for free (including flickr images) but generates substantial revenue licensing images for commercial use.
1: Microsoft's security essentials on windows 7 is a freemimum product, basic version ships absolutely free while for advance features you need to buy premimum account.
2:Google's Voice central is going to be freemium
Adobe comes to mind with Reader that you can upgrade to Acrobat.
<blink>Big flashing caveat:</blink> I am associated with Livemocha professionally. I don't speak for them, I'm not trying to shill, and I think it's appropriate to mention them here because of their size (something upwards of 4 million users), but if this seems like a conflict of interest, let me know and I shall remove the post.
All that said: Livemocha, a language learning site, allows you to subscribe for free to the basic versions of their courses while requiring that you pay money if you want coursework evaluated by professional tutors. They also have certain courses for which only a time-limited trial is available, and a handful for which only the paid version is available. Theirs is a completely web-based product, which is very common in the freemium space.
I'm a fan of Evernote, but not sure if they currently qualify as large. They already have MAC, IPhone, PC, browser and smartphone apps. The premium version is geared towards businesses that need the collaboration, security, and document management capabilities. The API will lend itself to be the data capturing front-end to enterprise apps.
Many of the job sites seem to follow this idea, where you have some limited use for free, but if you pay you get many new benefits.
I think it is a common approach, one that people are familiar with.
Even with Amazon, they have a program where you can get 2 day shipping for free if you join, paying money to be part of the program.
You can also look at some of the dating/relationship sites, as they seem to follow this pattern as the job sites do.
Almost all Google products except maybe adwords and adsense are based on the Freemium models, i.e. almost all services listed on: http://www.google.com/intl/en/services/ Actually the list is quite big and there is an endless list of companies that have been implementing this model for years if not over a decade.
Hotmail/Yahoo Mail have had the freemium model for years. Gmail was the game changer, but it is also on the freemium model since feb 2007 Picasa
Almost all freelancing sites offer a freemium service, I think elance was among the first to start giving free monthly credits.
Actually if you go back to the days of the early alternatives of Windows Media Player etc too all the alternatives used to be Freemium in a sense, for example Winamp/Winamp Pro.
Freemium itself has been around for much longer than the term!
do you have a single category of apps in mind when you refer to freemium? That may help get more accurate examples!
Large companies would be Adobe