No more free Sprout Builder

No more free Sprout Builder

Summary: Marshall has the news up that Sprout Builder will no longer be offering free accounts. Sprout Builder is one of my favorite applications on the net and I always thought what they were doing for the Flash Platform was good.

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TOPICS: CXO
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Marshall has the news up that Sprout Builder will no longer be offering free accounts. Sprout Builder is one of my favorite applications on the net and I always thought what they were doing for the Flash Platform was good. So while I share Marshall's sadness at the loss of the free service, I think this is much healthier for the ecosystem. In my talks with Carnet Williams, the CEO of Sprout Builder, they were getting a ton of demand from companies that wanted professional created widgets as well as a "white label" version of the service called FanKits that they could brand and let people easily build widgets around a specific campaign. Both provide direct revenue to SproutBuilder and I think show that there is money to be made in the widget business.

And as Marshall notes, the prices are far from daunting. When SproutBuilder first came out there were some whispers that this might be an interesting online version of the current Flash tool. It's not going to replace Flash in any way shape or form, but by having a very targeted model they're showing that it's possible to make money from web based tools that leverage the Flash Platform. I think this is good news for everyone in the RIA space as it shows there is a fairly robust ecosystem to create targeted tools on top of any given platform.

Topic: CXO

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  • Beg to differ...

    On the contrary: The sudden Sprout shift -- with just two weeks' notice and pricing geared toward corporate customers -- is a brutal slap at so many of the individual, small-scale users they courted. The worst part is that they haven't grandfathered in previously created Sprouts -- if you don't pay up, it seems they disappear from the Web.

    My example: I run a small public radio show (two people on staff). I created a basic template, and then used that to create a new Sprout for each weekly episode (which was prominently displayed on our front page). It was a great use of the technology, and we've been a great advertisement for Sprout. We now have about 30 Sprouts, archived on our site. Once they move off the front page each week, each is accessed rarely, and requires very little bandwidth in any case.

    When Sprout flips the switch: Poof, they're gone. And with our model (technically, creating a new Sprout to embody each episode) there's likely no WAY our tiny show can afford to keep using them, even as a non-profit. (Plus our budget for any new spending is zilch in this economy.)

    Sprout should have left a free (or very low-cost) basic version for the small-scale user. By demonstrating "personal" Sprouts and Sprouts for individual musicians, for example, they directly (and deceptively, in hindsight) courted this kind of customer. With their new pricing, it's really not a feasible tool for anyone without a corporate advertising budget. Now, not only can most of those folks not afford to create new Sprouts, but all the work they put in leading up to this point will disappear.

    I feel thoroughly screwed over.
    zorba56