I wrote a little-while back about underpriced and free services Everpix and Editorially closing-up shop. The subtext there was that the only-end game for so many companies seems to be acquisition by a much larger company, especially when the service is offered completely for free or at a price that's based on what people would like to pay instead of what it actually costs to cover expenses and run a company.
Today I learned of two more services more or less falling in-line with that theme: Mlkshk — an image-sharing service that's shutting down — and App.net — a service I used to think of as basically a Twitter alternative but I guess it's slightly different. They're not shutting-down, but "winding-down" in their own words.
I used to fault these folding/changing companies for a lack of foresight and basing their business plan on reality instead of idealist fantasies. But now I'm thinking the real problem might be something inherent to the industry, somewhere between these companies and the consumers.
Free web services and 99¢ pieces of software of skewed the public perception of the real value of these things. People get upset when Amazon raises their Prime membership program to $99 from $79 and Netflix makes plans to raise the price of their streaming video service a couple dollars (To be fair the complaints so far have been minimal, but I think that's also because they haven't been implemented yet.).
Maybe it's time to start some kind of backlash to this, in the spirit of the Cards Against Humanity Black Friday Sale. I'll start a simple image sharing and hosting service that charges $75/mo. Like a phone bill. On the Features page for that service I'll have a check-mark next to "Sustainably Priced."
That's enough writing about the Internet and computers for one day. Go read something on the topic that's actually well written: The Great Works of Software by Paul Ford. It's great.