Free as in stagnation

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 10, 2003

According to news.com, Google is discontinuing Blogger Pro and folding the Pro features back into their free version of the software:

Google-owned Web log-creation site Blogger is eliminating its paid version and folding premium functions into its free service, bucking a trend toward making people pay for Web site extras.

The creation of Blogger Pro, which cost subscribers a yearly fee of $35, came about as a result of financial necessity, Blogger co-founder Evan Williams wrote in an e-mail to subscribers. Now that Google owns the service, that need has passed.

It’s a good move…Pro never offered significant improvement over the free version and the proliferation of Blogger’s various options (Blogger, Blogger Pro, Blog*Spot, ad-free Blog*Spot, etc.) was confusing.

But as I mentioned back in May, it makes me nervous when a big company releases for free software for which other smaller companies are charging. Just as Microsoft buried Netscape with a free browser (resulting in stagnation in overall browser development), Google could give away blogging tools and services (to what end?), make it difficult for Six Apart, UserLand, etc. to sell their products & services, and in two years time, we’ve got a single dominant blogging platform and innovation in blogging software goes to zero. Fortunately, the general excellence and feature-richness of TypePad and Movable Type in particular and Blogger’s continuing uptime and support problems will probably override any advantage Blogger has in price.