Why Are Some Software Paid? (or Free)

Written By TheTechTop10

Every article is rigorously researched & written by a Tech Expert and reviewed by Two Editors.

There could be numerous things which are included to develop a computer program or Software. So, if you want to know why software is paid or free, you should know the process behind its development.

In this article, we are going to know about some things which determine where a software should be free or paid.

So, let’s get started.

Basic Introduction to software development

Software is made by 1’s and 0’s. Both these inputs or outputs are known as binary and this is the only thing a computer or even our smartphones can understand.

But, it is not easy to write binary i.e. 0 and 1 million or billions of times. It will be an extremely long process. So, we use source code to make this thing easy.

Source code is a code or instructions which are meant to be human-readable. However, expertise and understanding of these code language could be tough for beginners.

There are various programming languages used to create software such as Python, Ruby, PHP, Java, C, C++, etc. So, using these languages, we write a program that runs on a computer and does specific tasks for which it is developed.

These codes are compiled by a computer and converted into the form of 0 and 1 so that the system can understand it. As compared to humans, a computer will never be able to understand the code if there is a mistake in the code. So, it becomes crucial to perform several testing and debugging tasks before proceeding for launch.

So, without diving deeper into it, let’s know why some software are paid whereas you can access various software for free as well.

You can know more about the software and their types on Wikipedia too.

What does it take to develop a Software?

Software development is always a complex work because the source codes are lengthy even if you want to develop a simple piece of software.

An example:

In C++ programming language, if you want to create an output “Hello Word” on a computer, you will have to write this program.

using namespace std;

int main()
cout << "Hello World!";
return 0;

You can now see how complex it will be to create a software which is used for graphic designing, video editing, or even simple media playing.

In simple words, developing software is a highly complex and time-taking process that can be done by the experts. So, if anyone is spending this much time and effort to provide value to users, they can expect some outputs from it, and monetizing a software with a subscription plan or any other medium is a totally acceptable thing.

Why some software are free of cost?

In most of the cases, the free software also have pricing plans which are optional if a user wants to opt for additional offerings. This subscription model is generally known as Freemium subscription model where you can continue using the Free features of software and pay some money to the company or developer to use extra features.

Most popular examples of Freemium Software are Spotify, Evernote, Mailchimp, Skype, Buffer, Hootsuite, etc.

However, if we talk about the open-source software, they are either open for educational and research purposes or they are developed just in the form of contribution. You can see numerous android emulators that are completely free. These software are the actual free package where you can even change the source code if you have a knowledge of it.

What could be the reason behind a software being free?

There are various things which can make a software available for free. Here, we are taking the freemium model software in consideration because they are also free in any form.

1. Marketing

In the initial stages, if you are offering a software for free even with a trial or optional free package, it tends to grow more effectively in the market. However, some companies may not afford it because they might have been put lots of efforts, time, and budgets, but if you want to boost its growth, it is crucial to let the users try it for free for some time.

So, most of the companies let the users install their software in their computers or other devices and see the outputs. Ultimately, if your product is helpful, users are going to opt for paid plans because they always strives for more.

2. Goals Behind Development

If a government had developed a software to help people with any general information, it will surely be free of cost. However, it is a hard work of someone who wants to use publish that software as a startup or in the form of any other business, it may or may not be paid.

In other words, your goal behind creating the software will tell whether or not it should be paid.

If you ask me to develop a software to help people edit their photos effectively, I would surely hire a developer and spend thousands of dollars until the project is finalized. Then my second goal is to think how am I gonna monetize it. Definitely it is going to be a paid software because I want some outputs from my investment.

But, if I am an aspiring or even a professional developer, I would love to contribute to the community and provide people with a lot of value. Then I can think about improving my skills by creating a software which can help people with any specific task.

Ultimately, the biggest factor that determines whether a software is paid or free is actually the goal of developer.

3. Functionality of that software

Again, if a software is just allowing you to take simple notes on your computer, it is surely going to be free of cost. You can see some examples such as Windows Notepad, Notepad++, VLC Player. They all are free because they are supposed to solve simple problems. Anyone can create another piece of software like Notepad if Windows starts to charge for it.

But, if we talk about Adobe Font Folio, Maya, Unreal Engine, and Adobe Acrobat capture, these are some of the software that no ordinary person can afford. The reason is because they are developed and managed by large companies with the help of hundreds and thousands of experts.

A single person can never develop or handle this sort of software. So, its obvious that if a software is highly functional and use a lot of company resources, the company is going to charge you a lot to use them.

4. Quality

In my point of view, if you want quality, you should and sometimes, will have to pay for it. So, if one software is free but has a pathetic performance and support service, there are no benefits you can actually take from it. This implies a lot in the professional fields. A business can’t tolerate outbreaks and lags just because of an unresponsive software with little or no support service.

So, if you are paying something, it should provide you the services you need. And in most of the cases, it will. If you see all the products in Adobe Creative Cloud, they are extremely refined and excellent in every term. Of course they charge a significant amount for that subscription but they ensure the total user satisfaction too.

5. Software Owner

Just understand it with an example:

Google is a big company. They own numerous world-popular products along with its search engine. So, only this sort of multinational company can afford to provide you an impressive browser like Google Chrome.

The same thing applies to Mozilla Firefox. If you look at the offerings of both of these software, they should be paid for sure. If they were mine, I would have been charging several hundred dollars for each premium subscription. Joking Apart, but the main point is that if you have enough budgets, you can provide software for free otherwise, the same concept applies here again;

“if you want quality, you should or will have to pay for it”

Final Words:

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