I got a tip that Chris Anderson’s upcoming book Free has the following to say about WordPress:
2. Feature limited (Basic version free, more sophisticated version paid. This is the WordPress model.)
- Upside: Best way to maximize reach. When customers convert to paid, they’re doing it for the right reason (they understand the value of what they’re paying for) and are likely to be more loyal and less price sensitive.
- Downside: Need to create two versions of the product. If you put too many features in the free version, not enough people will convert. If you put too few, not enough will use it long enough to convert.
This is most assuredly not the WordPress model. Anyone and everyone can go to wordpress.org and download a completely free, completely unrestricted, and completely feature-complete version of WordPress to run for any purpose. There is no feature limited version of WordPress.
Chris might be getting confused by WordPress.com, which is a hosted WordPress solution (the biggest one, but certainly not the only one). It is true that WordPress.com charges money for certain features, such as CSS editing capabilities. But this is completely within the rights of Automattic, the company which operates the WordPress.com service. That one company is charging for certain aspects of a hosted WordPress solution does not change the fact that WordPress itself is free/open source software and has no monetization model and no tiered versioning system.
As we talked about at SXSW, Chris, it is WordPress services that are the “freemium” portion of WordPress. We give the software away, and thus create a vibrant market for third party WordPress services (this marketplace, to quote this blog’s quite literal catchphrase, puts food on my table).
Note that it would be correct to say that this is the Movable Type model, whereby Movable Type Pro and Movable Type Enterprise get features not available in the free/open source version of Movable Type.