How much does “free” enterprise software cost with time?

26 July 2010By Nina

Nowadays there are hundreds of collaboration and project management services for companies of all sizes. Therefore customers expect from software far more than just a user-friendly interface and the relevant feature set. The terms of service provision become one of the key factors for making the final decision.

The today’s reality is that most market leaders do not provide a fully-featured collaboration software for free. Even if there is a free version offered, the use of the platform is limited in every possible way. The limitations include: reduced functionality and customization options, limited storage volumes in the cloud, number of projects and employees, etc. This is a common policy of such leading software providers as CentralDesktop, Zoho Projects, Huddle or PBWorks.

Although worthy 100% free alternatives to such cloud-based giants do exist, no one can guarantee that with time you won’t have to pay for the service you subscribed to for free. There are plenty of examples showing this ambiguous policy in practice.

Let’s take ActiveCollab. At the moment this is one of the most popular platforms for business collaboration. The period when the company achieved the highest level of popularity falls on 2006. At that time the platform positioned itself as a 100% free clone of Basecamp. You can still find references to such policy on the Internet. However, in early 2007 the platform became commercial.

If we compare Basecamp, GoPlan and ActiveCollab – platforms popular at that time – one comes to unexpected results. As reviewed at* in 2007 ActiveCollab had very basic project management tools and no chat rooms, as opposed to its two competitors, yet it was 8-9 times more expensive.

Therefore the main question about free collaboration software is still open:

Will it remain free, or will any unexpected fees be imposed?

No wonder that this is one of the most popular questions we receive about TeamLab. And our answer is:

TeamLab current modules will remain free for you.

Even if we decide to charge fee for additional unique functionality in future, you can use the platform independently of our company. By deploying the source code you can use TeamLab on your own server at no cost forever. This is what makes TeamLab different from the other services.

* Data source: “Basecamp, activeCollab, and Goplan compared” published at on March 17th, 2007