In breaking news today, Amazon has announced it has launched a new business model. Amazon Underground will be offering in-app items, games and apps free to its customers. This is not a short-term promotion. These apps and games previously tagged at high prices come ‘actually free’. There are no embedded charges to unlock special features. The app developers will be compensated by Amazon based on a pay per use formula tied to a fixed amount “per minute played”. This completely breaks the revenue model for the various phone apps, which developers work hard to popularize through initial free offers and monetize through in-app purchases. To participate, developers must forego their normal in-app fees. After all, free apps are a great resource for many people, whether in their individual capacities or in their business.
If you are one of the 36 million people working as an independent contractor or freelancer – working alone or leading a small team of dedicated employees – it may interest you to know that there are many free apps on the World Wide Web which will come in useful to you in managing your business while saving on costs. Of course, we are not talking about the highly popular apps like Dropbox, SurveyMonkey, Skype and Whatsapp; but trying to dig deeper to look at other programs which may need an introduction and a brief description. Some representative examples are listed below. DCR is not endorsing any of these (truth in lending: we haven’t tried most of them), merely using them as an indication of what is currently available. Most of the descriptions are provided by the app developer.
Bitrix24: Offers multiple business tools for up to 12 employees. 35 HRMS features include internal communications, project management, employee management, document management, invoicing, social networking, CRM and more. Current users exceed 500,000 and it is available on various platforms –like iOS, Mac, Android, Web, Unix, Linux and Windows.
Schedulehead: If you employ ten or fewer workers, your administrator can schedule your employees into shifts. Its paid version sends text messages to employees with their schedule updates.
Wave Accounting: This free app is purported to provide a powerful accounting platform and accepts scanned receipts (with your mobile camera if you download WaveReceipts too) and can be used as a payrolling and invoicing application.
Documentation & Presentation Tools:
Qwirl: The brainchild of ex-Googlers, Qwirl can claims to turn any business document into an interactive web page. It can be used to create great reports, effective presentations and proposals.
Bizagi Modeler: A business process modeler, it is used by more than 500,000 people worldwide. It claims to make creating professional documents for your business fun and helps you publish high quality documentation in any of these formats: Word, PDF, Web pages, SharePoint or Wiki.
Simplenote: allows you to sync your notes across multiple devices. It works across Android, iOS, Kindle, Mac and web.
TinyScanner: For iOS users, this will provide a scanner for documents, and comes in a free as well as pro-version.
Postfity: Lets you post 10 times to 5 social accounts simultaneously without charges.
Level Money: Syncs with your bank account to keep track of your money and your spend, lets you know how much cash you can spend, waves a red flag when it exceeds expectations, averages your spend and projects your costs over the next week, month or year. (Both iOS and Android)
Toshl Finance: Available on Symbian, Windows, iOS and Android, Toshl customizes a budget for any timeframe.
Daily Budget: This app calculates a total daily budget based on your income, recurring expenses, and desired level of savings.(iOS only)
Acorns: This app offers guidance in investing in a portfolio based on the user’s risk tolerance. (iOS and Android)
A list like this can never be exhaustive or final. But these tools may come in useful to someone who may need time to get established in business, on a small budget.
In the meantime, we remain curious as to whether Amazon Underground will prove to offer a viable model for the developers creating the apps. Will we see an increase in the number of apps available through Amazon Underground, followed by others introducing similar offers, or will developers say, “thanks but no thanks”?
We ask you to share your thoughts, and pass this blog on to your app developer friends. We want to hear their reactions.
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