I like to be really transparent with how we make decisions, and as I’ve not updated the blog for a few weeks, I think this is a ripe time to share a big one!

We’ve always said we’d raise the price when we released V5, to reflect the increase in functionality; and we’ve been slowly rolling out the new price over the last few months.

We also took the more controversial decision to remove freemium for new users, making ActiveInbox a trial/paid product only.

I’m going to briefly explain why we chose to make the changes.

The primary reason, if you’re short of time, is that when we can increase income, we can make ActiveInbox better. It’s no secret that as a bootstrapped company, we’ve never actually made profit: every cent we earn goes back into developing the product (and the company). And this is especially true now that we have three world class developers contributing, and two intuitively gifted designers on retainer.

The price is easy enough to explain, for all new customers we are now $39.95/yr (our only price rise since we began charging in 2010). Everyone who supported us in our early days (i.e. originally paid $25/yr) will be grand-fathered into still paying $25/yr as a thank you.

Ending freemium was a more difficult decision, but ultimately the data backs it up.

Our main reasons are:

  • I never felt comfortable with the worse experience for people using ActiveInbox Free.

    It had to have annoying reminder boxes for missing features, and it was, of course, *missing* features: that means people on Free forget all that it can do, and are not getting the benefits that we so excitedly spent the last few years building.

  • Free users dilute support.

    We never complained about this: anyone who has written into us was appreciated, and almost everyone had an impact on improving the product. But as a bootstrapped company with limited resources, we don’t have infinite support resources, and it is unfair that Free users were getting equal priority as people who had paid.

    This point is more than just time spent responding to enquiries: we also make product changes when people write to us. The fair and right thing to do is prioritise product development for Plus customers, which isn’t as easy when we’re also supporting Free users.

  • Very few people actually keep using ActiveInbox on Free. (And of the people who wanted Plus, 85% of people upgraded within the first 3 weeks).

    This reinforces the first point, that ActiveInbox Free simply isn’t very desirable. I personally think I made the wrong choice with how we originally implemented freemium: my rationale was to restrict features in free mode to just things that help turn emails into tasks, and Plus was designed to help you get those done. But in reality, users forget what Plus does, and simply go on with a limited product.

    (A smarter decision may have been to make all functionality available, but restrict the number of tasks/projects you can create – but I really hate the psychological fear that induces… people seem to self limit their usage rather than spend money, whereas if you just pay up front, you’re freed from worry and can just focus on getting things done).

But the happy news is that we’ve also added two little pill sweeteners:

  1. If you didn’t get a chance to use ActiveInbox much during the trial, ActiveInbox will let you to extend it when you’re ready. And if you help us out by filling in a survey (that will directly influence how we improve ActiveInbox in V6), we’ll add another week to your trial.
  2. Plus users can refer a friend, and you both get an extra month of Plus. Just click the cube icon in the top right to bring down the ActiveInbox Menu, and then click the ‘Refer’ button.


This was written by Andy Mitchell