Home 30 Years After VisiCalc, Socialtext Unveils SocialCalc & Freemium Pricing

30 Years After VisiCalc, Socialtext Unveils SocialCalc & Freemium Pricing

Disclosure: Socialtext is a ReadWriteWeb sponsor.

On the 30th anniversary of the original killer business application, enterprise platform Socialtext has brought wiki spreadsheet app SocialCalc in to the light of day.

Created in collaboration with VisiCalc co-creator Dan Bricklin, the long-awaited app is the social enterprise successor to Bricklin’s original innovation. Begun in 2006 and now in public beta, its a more fully-functional version of his concept of WikiCalc.

Along with the public beta of SocialCalc, the company has transformed its offering in to a freemium price plan dubbed “Socialtext Free 50.” The 50-user version will see their collaborative software become available free of cost for the first time.

Social Spreadsheets?

Even with the genius of Bricklin at your side, why continue to spend years developing collaborative spreadsheets when easy-as-pie alternatives like

Google Apps

already are available to the enterprise?

SocialCalc is more than just an online spreadsheet that a group can edit. It truly incorporates the design principles of wiki in to a spreadsheet for distributed teams; dynamic editing, wiki-style linking, and an easily accessible version history are all there.

SocialCalc can also integrate Socialtext “workspace” wiki pages in to spreadsheets and individual cells (and vice-versa), creating easy portability of data between the different knowledge mediums within the platform.

Hosted and appliance customers of Socialtext will see SocialCalc integrated in to their existing platforms at no extra cost.

Socialtext is Now Free for 50 Users

The more unexpected of the two announcements from Socialtext is the switch to

a freemium strategy

. The new plan aims to draw in smaller, departmental teams and pilot projects by starting at a completely free option for 50 users.

Free 50 gets you a hosted platform with personal dashboards, Socialtext People (the social network), one wiki workspace, and the microblogging system Socialtext Signals, including the Adobe AIR desktop app. There is no support or services, and SocialCalc is not included, though there is a separate demo to try.

The next step from Free 50 is $6 per user/per month, which adds support/services, unlimited wikis, and SocialCalc. A $1,000 per month plus a per-user charge is the only route for an on-site appliance and full customization.

All hosted options are accessed via shared company email addresses, and Socialtext is stressing that Free 50 is “IT friendly” in that it allows full control of the platform whether you pay or not. That’s a smart move if you’re looking to have appeal as a pilot program for large enterprise, especially considering the administrative strangehold that many other freemium apps place on free versions.

What the New Plan Portends

The why behind Socialtext moving to freemium is likely to be the same as others who’ve remade themselves in a similar fashion.

The company was previously at the higher end of the enterprise 2.0 market in terms of price. But with the economy still limping along, there are fewer than ever willing to sign on the dotted line for new software, particularly those with a newfangled, collaborative modus operandi.

We asked CEO, Ross Mayfield, whether he honestly thinks enough Free 50 users can be converted to paying customers, and though he hesitated to make any forecasts, he expressed confidence that the features offered in the paid plans were enough to attract more than a few.

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