March 18, 2013, 1:46 PM — A little over a week ago, LogMeIn Product Specialist Sean Keough announced a change to the company's LogMeIn Free remote-access product: Instead of using it on unlimited PCs, customers would be limited to 10 PCs each.
As a longtime fan of LogMeIn Free and a self-proclaimed cheapskate, you'd think I'd be outraged by this decision, as lots of other users have proclaimed to be. (Look no further than the comments section beneath Keough's post.)
Quite the opposite: I say, good for LogMeIn. The free ride isn't over, it's just no longer available to mid-size businesses that should have been paying for LMI to begin with. (LogMeIn Free is really intended as a consumer product, though no doubt some businesses have leveraged it for work purposes.)
The mistake LMI made was allowing unlimited PCs from the start. I think there's such a thing as "too much free," and that many of us have grown spoiled by all the gratis goods and services available nowadays--to the detriment of development and innovation. Hence the backlash: Once you give people something for free, it's awfully hard to get them to start paying for it.
LogMeIn all but pioneered the remote-access category, making it possible to connect to and control distant PCs, thus avoiding the hair-pulling nightmare that is phone-based tech support. I've used it myself countless times to help friends and family members troubleshoot PC problems. And I've loved it for that.
But the remote-access field is now crowded with competitors, and if LMI wants to stay in it for the long haul, they have every right to nudge users toward paid versions--in this case LogMeIn Central, which costs $299 annually. That's just under $25 per month, which shouldn't break the bank for any small business.
Still not convinced? No doubt you've started looking at other free remote-access tools, like CrossLoop and TeamViewer. But guess what? CrossLoop limits you to one PC unless you go Pro. And TeamViewer Free is expressly "for private use," meaning you're not supposed to use it in business at all. If you want a paid license, it'll cost you a whopping $749 (which, admittedly, is for a lifetime license).
The switch to a 10-PC limit may prove painful for some LMI users, but the reality is that some services are worth paying for, especially if you want them to continue to exist. Before you start grumbling about the cost, ask yourself how much money you've already saved. The answer may surprise you.