Can you afford to use Free Productivity apps?

As another great productivity app Mailbox heads off into the sunset, I call upon everyone to think carefully before choosing a productivity service that’s offered for free or get’s acquired by a larger company.


Let me list a few services that I can remember that are closing or closed. I am sure there are others.

  • Mailbox (Acquired by Dropbox, Closing)
  • Sunrise (Acquired by Microsoft, Closing)
  • Astrid (Acquired by Yahoo, Closed)
  • Springpad (Closed)
  • Orchestra to-do (Closed)

Many of the above were acquired by larger companies, with plans that their services are adopted into existing products or in many cases driven into the ground and dismantled entirely. Others were startups that never really had a solid business model to keep development going.


Each time you use a new app you invest time getting your data into it, learning the way it works and you trust it to keep all your data safe. When the company decides it has had enough for whatever reason, you spend more time getting your data out again.

Which is why I think your productivity is too valuable to leave entrusted to free services. My productivity arsenal includes a number of paid services.

Google Apps.
Evernote Premium.
Nozbe Pro.

Limited free versions do exist of these products, but behind them is a solid business model to sustain continued development. (I hope???)

wunderlistWhat does the future hold?

I look at Wunderlist, a great to-do list service, recently acquired by Microsoft. It has a paid business model, but now Microsoft is involved, will it end up like Sunrise at some stage in the future? A part of Outlook or worse? However, I am not sure there is a worse fate than ending up in Outlook? 😉

Think things through

Before you sign up for that ‘free’ productivity service and invest your own time and energy, consider the real possibility that it might not be around for as long as you’d like!

Don’t be cheap, invest in your Productivity!