01/08/2013 09:41 am ET

The Hidden Costs For The 'Free' App Ecosystem

Free apps are dangerous, yet free is the dominant business model most mobile apps are taking these days. The roadmap is simple: grow as quickly as possible, then insert ads of some kind or get acquired. For consumers it offers a crummy set of choices: either losing the countless hours you put into the app or have your private data sold to marketers — since as well all know, when the product is free, you are the product. So how are we to trust investing time (our most valuable asset) in free apps that seem to inevitably "jump the shark," no matter how cool they start out? Are paid apps the answer, or will we need something more complex to keep developers in business?

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