Ever since the password manager LastPass opened its doors in 2008, new users have had two choices: Use LastPass on PCs only for free or pay $12 to get it on mobile as well. On Tuesday, LastPass will try a different tactic by letting new users start on the platform of their choice and remain on that one for free. As with the original format, anyone who wants to access LastPass across all their devices will have to pay $12 a year.
LastPass is also changing how it divides up device types for its new cross-platform freemium era. Instead of dividing the service between PCs and mobile devices, LastPass is now dealing with three distinct platforms--namely, PCs, smartphones, and tablets.
In other words, if a new user first signs up for LastPass on a tablet, then LastPass will always be free for that person on tablets. If it's on a smartphone, then it's always free on smartphones, and the same goes for PCs. What doesn't change is that you only get one platform for free.
LastPass says it's changing its first-time user strategy to better target how people are using technology. When LastPass first came on the scene, the PC was still the dominant computing platform. The iPhone was barely a year old, the T-Mobile G1 (a.k.a the HTC Dream) was about two months away, and the iPad wouldn't show up for another two years.
Seven years later, times have changed and users are just as likely to want to start using LastPass on a smartphone as they are a PC.
The impact on you at home: Today's announcement has no affect on anyone already using LastPass--unless you want to scrap your current account and start again under a different email address. New users, however, now have a choice of platforms to start using LastPass for free. If your online life revolves around an iPad or Android smartphone, then starting on a mobile device makes more sense. And if you do find yourself wishing for LastPass on more devices, it'll only cost you $12 per year. (Personally, I've been a paying LastPass customer for years and find it useful to access my passwords on PCs and mobile devices.)