The recent events made me think a lot about business models. Modern services are most of the time non sense business model; the vast majority is either free, or ads supported, or subscription based. All of these models are not OK for most of the cases.

  • free apps or services are just nonsense because building software costs a lot. No one can afford to create and develop quality software for free. If they claim to, you can be sure it is a scam to trick users into something (usually trading personal data for cats pictures) and should be avoided like the plague. Perfect examples are social networks;

  • ads-based are OK only when they do not play a key role in your life. Again, since it costs a lot to build them, they usually are designed to maximize users’ attention, which usually leads to unethical behaviour. Since it is difficult to tell whether the service provider are embracing bad practices I try to scarcely use them, and stop before they become too important in my digital routine. A good example is causal gameing: I do play ads-based games, but when I feel they are too engaging I usually stop using it;

  • subscription-based are fine, but I always try to be careful to choose services that can be suspended without issues; of course an exception is the professional services that can be seen like consumable costs of my activity. Perfect examples are Netflix or email. I avoid like the plauge the services that I cannot afford to lose in the case I cannot pay anymore for a certain period (mainly the password manager);

  • fixed-cost is the business model I prefer for applications that require limited support over time or that do not run on live services or use very lightway service. I like to pay for quality services knowing that it will sustain their business in a ethical way. Of course, since, not only it costs to make a software, but also to support it during time, this business model is not suitable for expensive service that must be alwyas online (like the email). Anything should fall in this category, except for the very few that belong to the subscription-based or the ones that are trivial enough to be ads-based.

Of course our society requires us to break some of the rules. For instance in Europe is almost impossible to live without WhatsApp, which is a nonsense free app with a stellar implementation and an outstaing service. As a developer I cannot help to admire its quality, but as a user I must be scared because their business model is shady, at best.