About the points

With this blog post I want to outline and to explain what we have planned for Spaaze from a commercial point of view - and therefore the title - what is the point system all about.

Spaaze is not a big funded startup, but a small idea being developed with very limited resources, therefore I of course have commercial interests. First goal: Spaaze should pay for it's own infrastructure (which it already would if all points where paid at the moment). Long term goal: Pay for the staff (which is currently only me).

But why points? I just think it's a more flexible system (even finer grained pricing possible than with 1$ micro-transactions), and it's no subscription. Especially the last point is something most people usually don't want. Also if subscriptions don't auto renew, you have to pay for 6-12 months in advance, and it's usually more expensive than you would like it to be. With a prepaid system you don't have these problems, you only pay for what you use, and you don't have to commit to the product over a certain period of time. If you have a different point of view, go on, please provide feedback.

So how much will Spaaze cost? Well, difficult to say since it of course depends on how much you use it, but on my personal account I have now used about 900 points of the 1000 you get in the beginning. So in my case it's probably about 1000 points in 4 months. BUT: the points charged for certain actions aren't fixed yet. Probably bookmarks will be free in the final version (to have a basic free version available for new users), and assuming that 50% of the items are bookmarks I've spent 500 points in 4 months. So for now, NOT FIXED, I'd say that 500 point packs will be sold for 10$. For me this would result in 30$ a year, which would be perfectly fine for me as a customer regarding how much I use Spaaze.

Of course I'm also thinking about all kinds of promotional possibilities regarding the points. Like free points for signup, free points for successful referrals, free points for beta users, cheaper points for educational, maybe free points per month instead of free bookmarks for all users, and so on. It's really not decided yet, but I hope this post makes clear what the thoughts and intentions are behind the points. With this said, please provide feedback, since nothing is decided yet, every feedback can make a difference - stefan@spaaze.com

Comments:

About Spaaze . . .

Just found your website and am giving it a go eventhough I currently use Ript, because yours does have the benefit of online accessibility and I'd like to test out how much I'll use this feature.

Here's some initial feedback from quickly learning how to use it - I accidentally created items which I didn't need but when I deleted them I didn't get my points back. Is there a possibility for building into the system a refund of points if items are deleted? This might make users more self-editing in the number of items they have on their board and thus reduce load on your storage. Maybe refund 50-75% of the initial points cost if you think that by refunding the full value might lead people to abuse the system - just a thought.

Also as a way of combating the 'internet for free' ethos, have you thought about creating a freeware version which runs purely on the user's computer but which if they want the flexibility of accessing the information 'any time, any place' they create a Spaaze account and upload copies of their local boards to your server which will also allow boards to be synced to the latest versions?

I'd like to wish you the best of luck in your venture and hope you find these comments useful.

i've just signed up, and am

i've just signed up, and am dissapointed that i'll have to pay - will probably not use it much as a result.

I respect your opinion - The

I respect your opinion - The "everything is free" mindset is part of the internet, so I have to deal with it. But instead of moaning about that you would have to pay in the future if you would use the product and we would charge for it yet, be happy that you have the chance to completely test out a product you might or might not like, without any obligations.

Points are free at the moment, for a Spaaze account you don't even have to provide an e-mail address and in fact, you don't even need a Spaaze account when using one of the OpenID providers.

I like the points system

...especially if I can avoid paying by gaining points through referrals, sharing my public board, etc, etc.

But, I do have a concern that if I got to the point where I had to pay real money to continue to use my board, it would be a barrier to my ongoing use. The board structure is perfect for adverts, and I know you seem to have ruled them out, but I feel this could be a mistake. Would I worry if my board content was being used by advertisers to target their messages? Not really, it happens in Facebook and I don't mind. And Google have done quite well from the model too! But I've paid neither company a penny of my own money - it's simply my presence on their site that has encouraged advertisers to pay the site owners to get to me.

Anyway, I'm about to share this site on Facebook - do I get more points (please!) for doing so? ;-)

Really like the concept,

MarkH

It's planned to give points

It's planned to give points away for certain promotional actions, but for a heavy user it's unlikely that the free points will be enough. And what would be so bad about it? If you start of with 500 free points, get some more free points through promotional actions, and depending on your use gathered enough points for 6 months. Would it be that bad to pay a small amount (like 5 - 10$) for half a year of satisfying use that would allow you to use it for another 6 months?
I think that's much fairer for both the users (as opposed to doing a subscription for like 25$ for half a year where you don't even know if you'll use it continuously), and the developer (I'm not a Silicon Valley based funded startup and pump tons of resources into making Spaaze attract millions of people first - which would be unlikely anyways for such a niche product as Spaaze - and think about a business model later. I try to make Spaaze work commercially from the very beginning).

Also I haven't ruled out adverts completely. I'm just not considering them at the moment because I think that it would be hard to implement them. Since at the moment all board are personal (also with the sharing features in the future most board will be personal), advertisters like Google don't have access to the contents of the board and therefore can't deliver matching ads. I really would have to dig into some of the newer APIs and see whats possible there.

A better pricing system

This is a very cool application, and I think it could become very popular. You'll definitely make your money if you can get it to catch on. But what is the one thing that all popular online sites and services have in common? They're free--at least for the basic features.

The point system is OK in some ways, but I think there's a better way to go. Here are my thoughts and suggestions:

At the very least, I think that anything which does not use up significant space on your servers should be free. For example, not only bookmarks, but notes and labels, as well. I just can't see paying any amount of money, no matter how small, just to type a few words or sentences. And some people, myself included, write a lot of notes. It would start to add up, and constantly paying for that sort of thing would drive people away, I think.

Now, pictures and videos are different. They require space, so spending points to use them is reasonable.

But you may want to consider a pricing system similar to that used by Flickr and other online services. Forget points all together. Offer a certain amount of storage for free (maybe 100 MB), with the option to purchase unlimited storage for a yearly fee. Personally, I think this is the best option, and it's how I would do it.

Will a lot of people use only the basic features, and never pay a dime? Sure, but that's OK. That's what will allow the service to catch on and become the next Facebook or Flickr or whatever.

Don't worry--once people start using this, and they see how cool it is, many of them will want that extra space, and the money you get from selling it to them will be plenty. But you have to get them here first. If you nickel and dime them for little things, I think you'll be shooting yourself in the foot.

I, for example, am a writer. I would love to use this application to keep track of my writing notes, story outlines, etc., anywhere I go. But using it that way, I'll write lots of notes and labels. I would burn through 1000 points in no time, and then I would HATE to have to pay for every little note I wrote.

But I would also like to use Spaaze for pictures and video. With the arrival of both public and private boards, and the ability to share my public board(s) with my friends online, Spaaze becomes even more appealing. So I'll be happy to pay a yearly fee for all that extra storage, just like I already do with Flickr and Hotmail.

But please don't nickel and dime me.

Advertising

Add advertising to the free spaaze boards and the paid version removes the adverts. I'm not to keen on paying for something I can get free else where and therefore would not use it at all.

Most ads in the internet

Most ads in the internet (meaning Google ads) are context specific. So wether and what advertisements are shown is based on the content of the page. For an application like Spaaze it's therefore really hard to add advertisements, both technically and in regards of privacy since it would meen to disclose the users data to the advertiser.
And as said, the pricing model is still in the making, but for now it looks like a classical Freemium model. One board and unlimited bookmarks will be free. But for the rest the SpaazePoint/Subscription system will be used. Users will get some free points for signup to try everything out. You will be able to use Spaaze for free for bookmarks. But Spaaze offers so much more, and this will cost a bit. But I think the pricing is fair. 500 SpaazePoints (currently we think abou 10$ for that) probably last for months for many users. Other users who use Spaaze more intensely can choose the subscription options, so that they don't have to worry about points at all.

I would pay for bookmarks

In my own case, my primary use of Spaaze is for bookmarks. When Spaaze goes commercial, I would be prepared to pay for that kind of use, and more for other objects like images and videos.

Is it possible to relate the charges for the different objects to the actual costs of storing them on your server? A stored file must take up more resources than a bookmark!

- Jeff Schallenberg
Mont Saint Hilaire, Québec

Of course files cost more

Of course files cost more than other items, which is why files are more expensive the bigger they are. But it's hard to put a "real" price on all other items at the moment because for that I would have to know the limits of the server. The calculation would go something like how many users can one server handle, and proportionally how many items of which type are stored when reaching such a limit. But such a limit hasn't been reached yet.

The idea behind free bookmarks would be to not loose all those people who don't even try a service if there is no kind of free version. And I would prefer to make an item free, than to give away free points per month so that things like the more expensive files are not being available for free at all.

Pricing a web service is really complicated, a lot depends on scale. My plans would be to end the beta and start the paid service sometimes this summer.