If you build good enough products and give away for free to gain market share, your customers will defect you when you are ready to charge; Period!
By the time you are ready to charge rest of your competition also has a good enough product and now it’s their turn to give away their product.
Free is only a competitive strategy if you plan to keep your product for free for eternity and never derive any economic value at any point of the value chain;
The problem w business entity offering a free product is they have to extract some economic value at some point in the value chain.
That is the reason some companies like Apple never or rarely offer any service for free; either they try to be the category leaders or figure out a way to convert into paid customers;
Apple deals with the inevitability head-on and focus on creating excellent products;
Free product only makes sense for open source industry!
This post is motivated by TechCrunch news about Google Maps app in the iOS 6 doghouse;