They are just tools, people!

| Posted: - Last updated:
| Tagged blog codaset github basecamp 37signals tools perspective
| ~900wrds (~5min)

Codaset is openly asking its users to comment on what pricing strategy they would like most. I’ve spotted this before, but again, there are two types of users. Those who see a great service and know that it will make their job easier, so they are willing to pay for it. There are also those who want a trillion repositories, unlimited disk space and what not for $1 a month (or less). This post is for the latter group of people.

Some developers claim they need to use all of 37Signals' apps, have the biggest Github plan available and buy that new shiny 17" MacBook Pro (or that 27" iMac, I know). With all those tools and hardware available, how can your brilliant plan not succeed? All the successful people you’ve heard of use them. So, with all that setup, you’re golden! Right? Then they check the price tag. It’s huge!

In my opinion, the problem started with shared hosting. Shared hosting was the business to be in about 5-10 years back. Everyone wanted it and everybody wanted it cheap. So, what you got (and still have) are big, over-selling hosting companies. You get 5 Terabyte of storage, unlimited bandwidth and you can host unlimited websites! The price? Only $1 a month! A bargain!

Did you really think that there is a big server with 5 Terabyte of space is reserved for you? Or that you really have unlimited bandwidth? I can’t remember how many people I’ve heard bitching about them hosting MP3’s and then having their accounts shutdown for excessive bandwidth usage.

Those companies were over-selling like crazy. They basically sold every megabyte of disk space they had available 50 times or more! Of course, they attracted vast numbers of customers and business was booming. With the number of customers rising, the quality of services went down the drain. Too often have I heard people complaining about their over selling shared hosting provider. Shame.

But why do people choose for the $1 over selling package when for $7 they could have had better service and quality, albeit for a higher price? Simply because we like the feeling that we can grow big. Every one wants to be the new Google and store all his home-made (or other wise gathered) music online.

Luckily, most “web 2.0” service providers (which 37Signals and Github really are) have come to another idea. Sell less features for a reasonable, maintainable price. Yes, Basecamp has less features than the competition, but at least the price is fair and service is good.

So, here we are in 2009 and every small company can get good project management, code hosting, issue trackers, invoicing tools and what not for quite reasonable prices. Truly awesome!

But, here come the people that want to “grow big” and become the next Google. These are mostly young developers who don’t have a lot of business experience, and are still in school most of the time. They read and hear the great success stories and how those people used Basecamp and Github. Those must be magic tools!

And look, every one is using a Mac and TextMate! I’ll need those too!

No offense to Github, Basecamp, TextMate or Apple, but that is not how it works. Businesses are not created by using a certain set of tools. The reason a successful business turns to Basecamp is because they have a problem with their current project management. When you start freelancing and you only have one or two client, you probably don’t need the biggest Basecamp plan to get along. Oh, you are developing the next iPhone killer-app? Then you probably don’t need Basecamp at all.

The same goes for Github. When you’re working on a project that you believe in, it’s worth the $7 for the basic plan.

At Codaset I read some user comments and the story is the same. Some serious freelancers or companies explain what’s valuable to them and what they’d like to pay for it. All reasonable, because they know the cost of doing business.

Then, there are also some people who want it all for free. Why, because they really need Codaset and all its features.

People, sorry to burst your bubble, but they are just tools. It’s like buying a 112-piece screw driver kit when all you want to do is switch the occasional light bulb.

Here’s my advice. Start your project. Just on your old Mac (or Dell) and work on it for a few weeks. Use the tools available to you to do your time tracking and invoicing. Push your git repo that old Pentium 4 Dell you have gathering dust in the basement.

Then, when you find that communicating with your clients is getting difficult by phone and email only, then give Basecamp a try. When you feel that your code is getting so valuable that you don’t want to risk putting it only on an old machine in the basement, store it at Github.

All those web 2.0 apps are really just tools that you can use. Tools are there to solve a problem. If you don’t have a problem, you don’t need the tools.

Only use the tools that you really need, and when you do, they’ll be more than worth the price you pay for them.

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