SaaS In the Age of Free

Fri 03 May 2013

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free customers

The underpinning of free is the ultimate "fuck off" capacity. Google can decide that one-million users is hardly enough to allow them to invest in any given technology. They can decide that ten million is too small. At some point, the rubber meets the road, and even with a 10% sales turn-over, it might not be worth monetizing a weakly used service. I think that this should factor into some clever startup who thinks that an abandoned service is worth the SaaS model. In essence, free brings "survival of the fittest" to economic matters in a slightly backwards way.

When Microsoft decides to kill phone after phone after phone, despite attempts to lure users, I am speechless. Selling one million devices isn't enough - and people paid money for that privilege. Devices, I might add, which are hell on wheels to jailbreak and support without the vendor. I don't think they ever published source code. For any of the devices.

Arguably, Saas vs. Device has no comparison, and I am not attempting to demonize anyone.

temptation

I have used Less Accounting for many moons. They are a pretty good service, but change strikes like lightening and there is no telling what features will be burned. This revision has been a God-send. I have always felt their service lacked focus and direction. I never could tell where to put my eyes when I was working in their screens. This latest change reflects an increase in their general purpose accounting model. Although I don't actually know their direction, the steps they're taking may someday make them a full competitor to things akin to QuickBooks. Thanks God. I hate Quicken.

The problem with SaaS is that because they derive from the free model, they think "hey take this change, or stick it". That attitude is fairly toxic and I hate it. Change is bound to come, but Google at least gives you lots of obvious warnings, does trials, still offer's the legacy for a time. They appear to listen to feedback as well. The free services do more to keep users via continuity and change management than most SaaS which I have used. SaaS tend to believe that staffed support and rapid response - even with disappointing news, insulates them against the customer-cost of these changes.

development

I have developed enough to understand the complex problems of MVC, pivoting in the input layer and making persistence changes. It's not surprising that the Less Guys are not able to evolve changes and migrate users slowly. It's not surprising that I largely remain unaware of the up and coming adjustments. They have always been laissez faire about having a user or not having a user. I understand this from a few perspectives as well. Tyrants cannot be permitted, be they users, or bosses. However, The Less Guys find themselves in that role from time to time, only it's "pay for our service and like what you get, or go someplace else". People show up wanting Quickbooks and they'll never be happy with anything. People who hate Quickbooks show up, they accept the product limitations, the quirks and the even most of the changes - I think a little loyalty from Less is in order.

relevant con

The focus of my frustration is with the Invoices themselves - the first thing which drew me to Less. I thought it would save me from QuickBooks - and that was 50% correct. I am still using Quickbooks now, but I'm not using it, I pay people to do so. The Legacy of Less has been invoicing, but today my staff person reported that payments can no longer be applied directly to the Invoice. You have to go through a deposit screen and it's tedious.

That is expected from accounting systems, but Less never had this constraint. The Web is supposed to help prevent this type of tedium, because it's all link-happy statelessness in reality. I suspect that this is Less showing signs of complete GL ability. I expect this course will take them head to head with core accounting features of Quickbooks and that ilk. I haven't deeply investigated anything though, I have been calming a pissed off staff person, and replying to emails which essentially said

....As you can probably tell, we've removed the option to apply payments to invoices from the invoice itself.  I believe this is only temporary....

This isn't the answer we desired.

disclaimer

Yeah, it's a web-SaaS, it's Cloud-based Invoicing cum Cloud-based Accounting. I can Go Someplace ElseĀ©, but the point is, I don't think I should be required to.

definition

SaaS is an abbreviation/moniker for "Software as a Service". The series of *aaS is what is meant when people use the buzzword "Cloud".


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