Socialtext offers a compelling package of Enterprise 2.0 services, but it has a problem. While it can talk all it wants about how great its products are, the real selling point is getting customers to use them for themselves. While free-trials work somewhat, the time constraints are limiting. So that’s why Socialtext is moving into the freemium market with its new SocialText Free 50 offering.
Basically, Socialtext Free 50 allows companies to sign-up and get many of Socialtext’s services for free, for up to 50 users. That includes the service’s social networking, wiki, site building and messaging tools. The only constraints are that you’re limited to one wiki workspace (paid accounts offer unlimited), and there is no support beyond the basic online variety. “We think we picked the right line of what can we give away,” Socialtext co-founder Ross Mayfield tells us.
So, you’re pretty much free to open those up to 50 accounts and let the users roam around as they wish. And if you determine you need more accounts, or just more options, there’s obviously an easy path to upgrade. The paid service starts at $6-a-month per user for a hosted plan, or larger companies can opt to pay $1,000 per month, plus $1 or $5 per user based on if they want hosted or on-site capabilities. The full pricing breakdown is here.
Alongside the Socialtext Free 50 launch, the company is also opening up the beta of its new SocialCalc spreadsheet service. SocialCalc’s development was lead by Dan Bricklin, the co-createor of VisiCalc — the first spreadsheet program that was ever made for PCs. It’s been private beta testing for a little while now, but is ready for public testing, Mayfield says. The general release is expected at the end of Q3.
As you might imagine, SocialCalc is a social spreadsheet service. But Mayfield feels it bests competitors such as Google Spreadsheets and EditGrid, because they’re doing more than just reverse engineering the dominant spreadsheet client, Excel. SocialCalc was built to make group editing simple, and to eliminate potential conflict issues when multiple people are editing a document. It offers a way to “work with structured data in an unstructured way,” as Mayfield puts it. And, unlike Google Spreadsheets, SocialCalc can be deployed behind a firewall.
Perhaps more importantly, SocialCalc ties into all of Socialtext’s other offerings (though, unfortunately won’t be included in the Socialtext Free 50 offering as of right now).
We’ve been seeing a resurgence of the freemium model in recent months. It seems to be working pretty well for some consumer-facing products like Pandora, which had a nice offering a couple months ago. It will be interesting to see how it works in the enterprise sphere. CubeTree, another social enterprise offering, launched with the model last month as well.