WidgetLaboratory, for those of you who don't know, makes widgets that other Ning network creators could plug into their own sites. These widgets of course were things that Ning didn't provide themselves, and a lot of people are very upset about this.
As I see it there are four outcomes here: WidgetLaboratory's service is restored, the people who are upset build their own replacements, the people who are upset stay upset, or Ning provide alternatives. Of the four, I think the best possible outcome for Ning will be if they follow the first path -- if there was a ToS violation, fix it, restore the service, and move on.
We feel that the worst outcome would be if Ning went down the route of providing replacements. The idea has already been floated by others that perhaps WidgetLaboratory's widgets were somehow encroaching on Ning's revenue. If Ning recreate the widgets then fuel will merely be added to that fire. Of course, it's only a possibility at this time, but it highlights something else we strongly believe.
We think a Platform-as-a-Service must be charged on a utility basis. We don't think freemium models can work, because the provider will always be looking to expand their premium offering and sooner or later these will collide with those of their customers. When that happens, sparks will fly, and fires will start.
Fundamental to everything we're doing is the belief that a utility model works for everybody - the customer wins because utility models are more fair, and the PaaS provider wins because more usage from your customer's customers means more revenue for you -- never less. As a business-to-business software service, we believe there needs to be clear blue sky between what we offer, and what our customers offer. That's very hard, and will continuously get harder, with a freemium model.
Reasonably Smart is open source, and is going to operate under a utility model. We'll charge for bandwidth, storage, and operations in the VM. You can build what you want, and if you don't like how we operate, or feel our charges are unfair, you'll have the ability to take not only your code, but our code as well, and it run elsewhere.