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LogMeIn removes free option, users aren't happy (Updated)

Updated with statement from LogMeIn (at end) and to clarify that Ignition was the premium iOS app.

Free services are fading with every passing day. The latest to go is the remote connection service LogMeIn Ignition, which has offered a free version of its service for the last 10 years. Users could pay for additional features, but basic use was covered for free. This morning, however, users received an unpleasant surprise in their email boxes; starting on January 28, 2014, free users accounts will be inaccessible. Users have seven days to make up their minds.

Owners of the LogMeIn Ignition iPad app (which has varied in price dramatically over the past couple of years) will be getting a six-month LogMeIn Pro subscription to soften the blow; the main iOS LogMeIn app remains free and will be updated going forward, but there won't be corresponding free computer accounts for it to work with.

For users of the LogMeIn Free service, the only way to keep your account is to buy a US$49 year-long subscription for two computers. The offer says $49/year, but the fine print says this is an introductory price that's only good for the first year. As of right now, the company's other free services will continue. This includes join.me and cubby.

As you can expect, longtime LogMeIn users are irate, both at the sudden price increase and the abrupt time window provided to decide if they will keep their account. Since the changes were announced on LogMeIn's community page this morning more than 56 pages of responses have been posted. Many people seem to have made their first, and last, community posts specifically to complain about this issue.

Here's a sampling of client responses:

"Moving to Teamviewer, free for personal use!"

"Maybe it's worth the price for business users, IT solutions, etc, but for a casual personal user, connecting to one home computer in my lunch break... it's not worth it. I understand you're a business, so obviously need to make a profit, but I'm not, and for what I use it for... Not gonna happen.

So byebye LogMeIn. It's been fun and I'll miss you, but I guess it's time to move on and give one of the other numerous free alternatives a try."

"What a shame! Great service, i'm more than happy to pay for the initial year of £29, but not for 2 computers. Thats ridiculous. Yesterday I had 7 computers for free, now only 2 computers for £29.

Doesn't feel right... I feel you should offer more solutions. I'd pay £29 for remote access for 10computers, and none of the other stuff that comes with the pro accounts.... Annoying, will have to look for an alternative..."

This particular user felt betrayed by the company after they promised last March the service would remain free.

I find it amusing how the link to the March Email is online still and referenced: We're making some changes to LogMeIn Free - specifically introducing new volume limits on LogMeIn Free accounts - that will impact a small portion of our user base.

While the vast majority of LogMeIn Free users will not be impacted by this change – LogMeIn Free is and will remain free – we wanted to take a minute to explain what is changing, who will be impacted and what, if anything, it will mean for you.

In a statement to TechCrunch, the company implied that the move was motivated by the reality that users are increasingly coming to them via their cloud storage options, leaving the freemium model for LogMeIn popular with users, but not driving new clients.

"We introduced LogMeIn (and our freemium model) 10 years ago, and it proved great at disrupting the then early-stage remote access market. The reality is that the remote access market evolved – today most of us rely on the cloud and mobile devices to get to our stuff and our apps," a spokesperson says.

"Over the years we've expanded our portfolio and applied the freemium model to new growth markets, most notably in the collaboration market where we have freemium offerings for online meetings in join.me, and cloud sync and share, with Cubby . In fact, today, more than 70% of our first-time users are introduced to us via join.me, making it easily our fastest growing product."

The countdown to the end of LogMeIn Free started this morning. If you're a current user of the service we'd love to hear your thoughts on the move in the comments below.

Update: We received a statement from Craig VerColen, Senior Director of Corporate Communiations at LogMeIn as well:

First, let me be clear about the impact on Ignition for iOS customers. On our blog and elsewhere we've said we're giving them significant discounts and favorable terms. Specifically, they are getting 6 months of Pro for free. And any computer connected to that mobile account is getting upgraded for those 6 months. After that, they can choose to purchase a Pro subscription or not.

As far as the reason, and we've said this elsewhere, the market has matured, and we've made the decision that to best serve our mobile customers, we need to focus our remote access efforts on a modern, premium offering that works across devices, factors in a mix of cloud and local data, etc. At the same time, we're expanding other efforts – including some that involve the freemium approach – to address our customers' needs. It's probably surprising from the outside, but it's been a long time since we are solely a remote access company. Today, products like join.me make up the bulk of our new users and represent the fastest growing parts of the business. So this change is really about focusing on key growth areas and focusing our access efforts on the evolving needs of mobile professionals.

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