Coming Soon to Your Desktop at Work: Ads

New ad-supported programs for physicians, accountants, and more
Illustration by Jennifer Lee/Bloomberg Businessweek; Photograph by Getty Images

There has long been a divide between business and consumer software: Companies mostly buy licenses to use applications, while consumers often pay nothing and advertisers shell out money to reach them. Several startups have begun tearing down that divide by offering ad-supported business software. Rather than charging thousands of dollars for multiyear licenses and maintenance fees, these companies give away programs that manage medical records, monitor information technology networks, track revenue, and more. Such sites become “communities for practitioners, and that’s very valuable for anybody selling to them,” says Jeremiah Owyang, an analyst at Altimeter Group in San Mateo, Calif.

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