ThinkFree Not So Free for Aussies and Kiwis

Look, we know we Aussies don’t have a big population compared to giants like the USA and China.

But we are people. We have feelings.

And we like things that are free.

Or seem to be.

Like ThinkFree Online, which is free – unless you happen to be Australian. In which case you have to deal with the big telco, Telstra, via its BigPond online service. If you aren’t a BigPond subscriber, tough.

How I discovered this was that I noticed today that Ismael Ghalimi, the authority on Office 2.0, uses three of the ThinkFree tools on a daily basis. That reminded me that Tris Hussey had enthused about ThinkFree a few months ago and had organised for me an invitation to test the ThinkFree Premium product he was using. As it turned out, I was not able to use that invitation, because I had problems with signing on and after a couple of emails from ThinkFree support asking me details such as what OS I had, I heard no more.

Life moves on, but I did think today, after spending some time on Ismael’s site, that it would be good to have another look.

Here’s what I saw at first:

Not just one “Free” – five (count ’em) “Free” things. Great!

And just to reinforce that, over on the right hand side of the screen was another declaration that this was free stuff.

OK, time to sign up.

Then look what happened. A notice that I’m being shunted off to BigPond.

And the message was unambiguous: ThinkFree Online is available as BigPond Office Online for BigPond Members only in Australia and New Zealand.

Huh? Just noticed – they dropped the Kiwis in too. What did they do to deserve that?

More out of curiosity than any vain hope that there might be another story on the other side of the “Sign Up” page, I clicked the button.

Definitely no ambiguity there. “Only and email addresses will be accepted”. You’re not a paid-up BigPond subscriber, you don’t get to play with ThinkFree.

Well, I’m not about to switch my Internet access account over to BigPond just to try ThinkFree. So I guess I must wave goodbye to the opportunity to use this apparently quite excellent product.

Maybe ThinkFree could change the notices on their home page to say “Free…except for Australians and New Zealanders”.

‘cos if you have to have a BigPond account to access it, it ain’t free.

Or is this the model ThinkFree are using for the rest of the world – i.e those of us outside North America? A series of deals with local providers to lock up the service from anyone who isn’t one of their paid subscribers?

Share this...Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestEmail this to someone
About Des Walsh

I show business owners and other professionals how to navigate the social media maze and use LinkedIn effectively. I'm an author, speaker, business coach, social media strategist and LinkedIn specialist. Connect with me on LinkedIn, Google Plus and Twitter. And to stay in the loop, get my weekly Social Business Bites.


  1. Thanks Ben
    I hadn’t revisited this in quite a while, so I appreciate your update.

  2. Hey guys
    You can login now using your gmail account and it appears to work just fine even though the standard signup etc redirects to Bigpond.

    We are investigating integrating their product into our applications which are not only offered in Australia but worldwide, will be interesting to see what they come up with.

    Hope this helps.

  3. @AC Thanks for that. It’s a while ago now, but I doubt that was an option for me at the time. I imagine the system was programmed to pick up my ISP address. As I explained in the post, there was no way I was going to get access. But just now, prompted by your comment, I seem to have been able to sign up successfully and download the desktop ThinkFree office setup. Maybe Telstra lost interest.

  4. Well, you could access it from an American version, unless that is blocked as well. is what I use.

  5. @daniel Thanks for the clarification. I guess I had assumed the product was owned by a US company.

  6. Not trying to be an arse or anything but ThinkFree is a subsidary of Haansoft, a Korean company.

    so it has nothing to do with americans.

  7. G’day Des,

    Jacob was spot on when he described this as short sighted.

    While, as you say, there aren’t as many of us Aussies and Kiwis, the fact is that as a whole we interact and network with untold numbers internationally!

    Most people that I have know using Bigswamp switch as soon as possible, which really says a lot about the company and their service! 🙂

  8. Martin
    We also know how “good” Telstra are at spin and maybe the good folk at TF got spun. What would surely be a smarter move by Bigpond would be to “give away” what is already free in the US and use that to encourage more people and small businesses to see them as helpful, and even helping them make a case, say,for Bigpond as a good online provider choice for small business. Maybe not, as you say, for bloggers 🙂

  9. Martin Neumann says:

    Sadly Des, I’ve seen it all too often over the years.

    One suspects that many US companies don’t think past their borders or … they think that America IS the World and pay lip service (if at all) to the rest of us.

    And Bigpond!!! No wonder I never see ThinkFree written up by Aussie bloggers.

    Sheesh, all the guys at ThinkFree had to do was approach a few of us bloggers and we’d steer them in the right direction.

  10. It does sort of defy belief, Jacob. Which is why I tried really hard to see if there was another way I could access the service, even just to test it and see why people I respect, like Ismael and Tris, use it. But no, there was Sol T’s mob standing in the way. You want to play, you pay.

    And yes, they obviously didn’t do their homework among the potential evangelists. Bigpond? You’ve got to be joking!

    BTW: great to see Shirlaws still obviously going strong!

  11. Wow, how unbelievably short-sighted.

    I mean, I can understand the specious reasoning here – let’s connect with a big telco / big ISP to give us loads of distribution in Australia (and, it seems, NZ).

    But there’s the recent PC Authority user survey that shows Bigpond is regarded as one of the worst ISPs in the country – big is not best.

    More importantly, ThinkFree should be targeting tech users and business geeks with their product – give those of us at the cutting edge a chance to use, love, and evangelise their product. These users almost entirely shun Bigpond in favour of reliable and cost-efficient service.

    They may have really blown their chances down under – ThinkFree free of thinking.


  1. […] I have done a bit of a rant about the fact that one of Ismael’s more favored products, the ThinkFree set of tools, is not […]