- RingCentral is playing catch-up to competitors such as Zoom, Slack, and Microsoft, which already offer freemium plans.
- Offering a freemium plan is a double-edged sword, but there are steps RingCentral can take to avoid pitfalls.
RingCentral just introduced RingCentral Glip Pro, a freemium version of RingCentral Glip. RingCentral Glip Pro combines RingCentral Video videoconferencing introduced in April with team messaging, file sharing, contact, task, and calendar management capabilities. Offering a freemium plan enables RingCentral to close a gap with competitors. However, providing a freemium offer also presents potential pitfalls. Fortunately, there are steps RingCentral can take to avoid mishaps.
RingCentral Glip Pro provides more than 30 features, a very impressive number for a free service. Some of the more notable items include unlimited meetings; meeting duration up to 24 hours (for customers who sign up by July 2021); the ability to instantly launch a meeting from a messaging thread; video and calendar integrations with Microsoft Teams, Office 365, and Google Workspace; and messaging with both internal and external users.
RingCentral also introduced RingCentral Glip Pro+, which provides all the features of RingCentral Glip Pro plus additional capabilities for a monthly fee. Customers can graduate to RingCentral Glip Pro+ for $14.99 per month, per user when purchased monthly for up to 99 users ($11.99 per month, per user when purchased annually) or $13.99 per month, per user when purchased monthly for 100 or more users ($10.99 per month, per user when purchased annually). Some prominent features are a maximum of 200 meeting participants (versus 100 with RingCentral Glip Pro), the ability to record up to 100 hours of meetings and retain the recordings up to one year (versus 10 hours and seven days, respectively, for RingCentral Glip Pro), and single sign-on.
The introduction of RingCentral Glip Pro is not without drawbacks. RingCentral is playing catch-up to vendors such as Zoom, Slack, and Microsoft which already provide freemium plans with similar functionality. In addition, a freemium plan represents a double-edge sword for RingCentral. While a freemium plan is a very attractive lure, RingCentral could find itself in the same boat as Slack, whose profitability has been weighed down by a preponderance of customers adopting its freemium plan. And with RingCentral Glip Pro+ priced at a monthly premium ranging from $11 to $15 per month, per user, that vision is not far-fetched.
While competitors show RingCentral what to avoid, they also show it how to navigate the freemium terrain. RingCentral should take a ‘have-your-cake-and eat-it-too’ approach which offers customers the ‘hook’ of free service without making itself financially vulnerable. For example, Google offers a 14-day free trial on each of its four Google Workspace plans, while 8×8 offers a one-month free trial of its lowest-tier X Series plan. By mirroring these efforts, RingCentral could provide customers free service without breaking the bank.
However, if ‘cake’ is not to RingCentral’s liking, there is another option: maintain the status quo of a feature-rich freemium plan standing shoulder-to-shoulder with a paid plan, but gradually widen the capability gap by incorporating robust enhancements into RingCentral Glip Pro+. Although new to the freemium space, RingCentral has ample opportunity to succeed. Doing so, however, will require carefully monitoring adoption of their freemium plan, adjusting course if necessary, and having a plan in place to do so ahead of time.