Are we starting to see the end of free file-sharing?

No sale cash register

Last month it was SugarSync. This week it’s Droplr that is dropping its free shared file service and trying to finesse the tricky business of converting users to paying customers. Next week … who knows?

In a Tumblr post on Thursday, Droplr set next week as the beginning of the end to the free ride. As of then, it will put all existing and new users on a 30-day trial. At the end of that period those who don’t subscribe won’t be able to upload more files although their existing data will remain accessible.

This whole free-to-paid journey is a very tricky issue. No one wants to pony up for what they’d gotten for free. On the other hand, there is the notion that you get what you pay for and, in theory, a paid model comes with service and support you can’t rationally expect from a free service.(Although plenty of people are not rational on that point.)

Another pioneer on the free-to-paid trail although outside  file sharing,  is Mailstrom, the well-reviewed product that cleans out your overburdened email box,  is also moving its users to a paid model. And the deadline is January 6, so chop chop, I guess.

droplrprice

Some of the biggest name-brand trailblazers in cloud storage and file sharing will face this issue sooner or later. Dropbox, which in July claimed 175 million users but won’t say how many of them pay, is the obvious player to watch. That company has tons of funding and has been willing to sacrifice profits for reach. Enterprise-focused Box also claims millions of users, but again, won’t break out how many pay.

When one of those big boys drops free for paid only, that will indeed be huge news. Right now, it looks like these smaller players are blazing the trail in this fraught journey.

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