NewsGator is giving away desktop feed readers FeedDemon, NetNewsWire, and NewsGator Inbox. The company hopes to regain any loss of revenue from its desktop business with new enterprise sales leads and better attention metadata. The company announced the change in pricing in a press release today and a blog post by founder Greg Reinacker.
NewsGator’s desktop feed readers previously cost about $30 each and faced some commoditization through feed reading software bundled with modern operating systems, office suites, or competitive open-source solutions. Windows client FeedDemon needs to compete with feed reading capabilities built-in to Windows Vista and Internet Explorer 7 or open-source clients such as RSS Bandit. Apple client NetNewsWire competes with Mail.app in Leopard and open-source freeware such as Vienna. NewsGator Inbox competes directly with Outlook 2007. Online competitors such as Google Reader are starting to deliver desktop-like speeds in an always up-to-date, always available model.
NewsGator differentiates its desktop client offerings from the competition through the NewsGator Online hub. Each client filters its requests for feed data through the centralized online service and synchronizes each user’s list of subscriptions, read/unread items, shared snippets, and more. NewsGator plans to use the extended user base available via its free clients to fine-tune relevancy and other metrics available through uniquely identifiable attention data.
[B]y using your data, in combination with aggregate data from other users, we can deliver a better experience for everyone. And that’s a good thing – both for us and for you.
Each desktop application can also sync with a local activity hub NewsGator is selling within enterprises. They hope free tools will infiltrate corporate America to generate new sales leads and internal advocates for bigger licensing fees.
NewsGator’s move to free is an interesting risk for a changing business. Competitors such as Attensa do not have a similar strength in the desktop client space, and NewsGator will continue to worry about Microsoft shipping an update to SharePoint that could shake up their enterprise market. In the mean time thousands of consumers will be able to download quality software for free, and the small desktop clients can continue developing cool new features funded by enterprise usage.
Update: Nick Bradbury, creator of FeedDemon, shares his thoughts on the freebies on his blog.