Small businesses, dollars and decisions: Rethinking Airtable's new pricing
Throughout the years, Airtable has transformed its focus, transitioning from serving individuals, small businesses, and B2Bs to directing its efforts towards capturing the enterprise market. In this context, what can small businesses, that currently use Airtable, expect to experience along this way?
The technology landscape is quite dynamic. Trends and priorities shift rapidly and small business are one of the most affected companies, especially when it comes to pricing.
One such notable shift has been witnessed in the journey of Airtable, a well-known platform offering a blend of spreadsheet and database capabilities. Over the years, Airtable has evolved from catering to individuals, small businesses, and B2Bs to now setting its sights on the enterprise market.
Especially after their massive layoff in 2022, Airtable has explicitly been focusing on the enterprise companies, rather than providing value to smaller businesses.This shift has left many smaller companies wondering about their future with Airtable.
- Airtable's Plus and Pro plans are now merged and named "Team", which is $24/month per user.
- Team plan became limiting for Pro users, enforcing Pro users to buy Business Plan, which is $54/month per user.
- We don't know whether Airtable team have updated the Enterprise Plan pricing or not.
- API calls have been significantly limited across plans, so if you are a heavy API user, you may end up with subscribing to Business Plan.
- The Free plan's features have been downgraded considerably.
Airtable's shift to enterprises: A strategic move?
After Airtable was founded in 2012 by Howie Liu, Andrew Ofstad, and Emmett Nicholas, it has proven itself to be a user-friendly platform which will then disrupt the spreadsheet and nocode vertical, helping end users and SMBs easily keep their data in one place.
We believe that their recent shift towards enterprises, crippling their free plan and increasing prices is driven by several strategic reasons:
- Revenue generation: Targeting the enterprise market typically translates to higher revenue potential due to larger user bases and the willingness of enterprises to invest in tools that streamline their operations. Given Airtable has 51 investors, there is definitely a big push towards going enterprise to drive more revenue.
- Market positioning: Establishing a presence in the enterprise market can enhance Airtable’s reputation and credibility. This can lead to increased brand recognition and market influence, even among smaller businesses.
- Competition: As the no-code and low-code market becomes increasingly competitive, Airtable aims to position itself as a comprehensive enterprise solution to differentiate from competitors.
- Reduced attention to SMBs: Enterprises generally demand a higher level of attention, leaving smaller businesses at risk of receiving less prioritized support or slower feature updates. This could impede the growth and operational efficiency of SMBs, who often rely heavily on responsive support.
As of this writing, we don’t have information regarding whether Airtable has increased its prices for enterprise customers or not. We’ll update this blog post as we get more information. However, we believe that Airtable's revenues from SMBs need to be increased, and this is the main reason of the price hike, together with the push from investors.
What has changed with Airtable’s new pricing?
First of all, we need to know that Airtable previously had 4 pricing tiers (Free, Plus, Pro and Enterprise). Now they are named Free, Team, Business and Enterprise. Free is also free, but Team and Business prices have gone up considerably.
For a long time, Airtable had a generous free plan. However, with Airtable free, there are now several limitations, as follows:
- Each base can only have at most 1000 records, which is a very low number if you would like to test anything serious.
- Attachment storage space is now 1GB per base.
- API calls are limited to 1000/month.
With the new plans introduced, integrations and extensions cannot be used with a free plan, but you have to pay $24/month in order to benefit from those features.
While Plus may seem to be mapeed to Team, in fact there are no plans with similar features at a similar price point compared to Plus.
Also, Pro plan users will be transitioning to new Team plan starting September 18, 2023. However, the new Pro plan has considerably lower limits in some aspects, e.g attachment storage per base (10GB instead of 20GB), automation runs per month (25.000 instead of 50.000) and number of API calls limited to 100K instead of unlimited.
While there are limit increases in some of the other features, many customers will be forced to upgrade to a newer plan. This plan is called “Business’ which costs $54 per month (or $45 if paid annually).
Business is a new tier, which may be interesting since there was a huge gap between Pro and Enterprise. Now Airtable wants to fill in this gap for companies who can't afford to pay for Enterprise (albeit with a hefty price tag).
Now comes the problematic part - heavy Pro plan users now have to transition to Business plan, which costs more than double.
Hence, this introduces a steep price increase if you use Airtable with Pro plan, but bump into new limitations.
Airtable's Enterprise and new pricing pivot: What SMBs need to consider
We can clearly say that Airtable is not a product-led growth company anymore, as its free plan's features have been downsized quite considerably. Now Airtable has to push more on sales side of the things, since the free plan won't help them bring more customers.
While Airtable's move to serve enterprises is a strategic decision, it raises concerns for the smaller companies and B2Bs that have relied on its services. The shift towards enterprises has resulted in a significant price increase, making it less accessible for smaller entities with limited budgets.
Historically Airtable’s price was $10/mo, and now you have to pay $24/mo - albeit the feature base have grown considerably. This can be read as "We are not hitting our numbers, so we wanted to double our prices for SMBs".
Also, as Airtable tailors its features to enterprise needs, smaller businesses might find themselves with functionalities they don't need, leading to a potential mismatch in utility and cost.
In their announcement, Airtable says “We made these changes based on feedback from our customers, data on how we see our customers using the platform, and the value provided by new capabilities released over the past few years”, however we are not sure that customers wanted a downgrade in their Free or Pro plans. Instead, we believe they wanted upgrades and better limits in their plans.
Many people have been a fan of Airtable over the years, but to us, they are now going the route of Evernote in increasing prices while taking away functionality users have become accustomed to.
Enter Retable: A better solution for small businesses
While Airtable’s pivot might raise concerns for smaller businesses and B2Bs, the emergence of alternatives like Retable offers a promising (if not better) solution. Here's why it's worth considering Retable:
- Affordability: Retable offers a cost-effective solution that aligns with the budgets of small businesses and B2Bs, with prices starting from $12/mo or lifetime access from $99.
- Tailored features: Unlike Airtable's evolving focus on enterprise features, Retable remains committed to providing tools that are relevant and useful to smaller teams.
- User-centric approach: Retable's dedication to providing exceptional user experience ensures that even as it grows, the platform remains intuitive and user-friendly. Moreover, we have a dedicated Discord channel to give 1-1 and hands-on support.
- Community: Retable's emphasis on building a strong community of users fosters collaboration, idea-sharing, and mutual support among smaller businesses.
Want a personal recommendation on migrating to Retable? Fill in this form and we'll get back to you. No commitments.
This is a wake-up call for small businesses
While the shift towards serving enterprises can lead to growth and financial success for Airtable, SaaS companies need to carefully consider the potential consequences of staying with Airtable. We know that hasn’t been the first time SMBs have been ignored with their choice, and it won’t be the last.
Price hikes and feature changes can and will alienate the SMB customer base that initially helped these companies gain traction.
Balancing the needs of both segments requires strategic planning and communication to ensure a smooth transition and maintain customer satisfaction.
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