Nice post by Dennis about SmartInspect and how they tried out giving away free editions. I thought about this alot with HelpSpot and really wanted to do it, especially for the MicroISV’s out there. However, I just didn’t see a way to get around support. That’s the same problem Dennis had when he actually tried this.
At the end of the day when emails for help come in you’re going to answer them if you’re a customer service focused business. What’s the point of a free addition if it only creates bad PR for you because when people have trouble you won’t help them. And from there, once you give support that’s essentially the ball game. Support is expensive in both time and money. So while it’s nice to think that the free users would just use the forums for help it’s not realistic and that throws off the entire cost/benefit structure of providing the free editions.