WordPress.com is a commercial venture. It’s a way for the kind souls who have put time, money and a whole load of effort into the open source and free-to-download WordPress blogging engine to make some money back. They do this by making it stupidly simple to set up and maintain a blog, while introducing some rather hefty limitations for experienced users.
A free WordPress.com account offers:
A blog, which you can turn into a full-on static or hybrid (part blog, part static) website.
3GB of free storage for posts and media.
Publicize, a tool for connecting your blog with social networks.
Free statistics for tracking visitors.
Access to hundreds of non-premium themes, many of which can be customised further.
WordPress.com access from mobile apps for iPhone, iPad, Android and BlackBerry.
WordPress.com designates the following as premium upgrades:
Custom Design ($30 per blog, per year) adds custom CSS (not PHP editing) and fonts.
Custom Domains ($13 per domain, per blog, per year) removes the .wordpress.com part of your URL.
Guided Transfer ($129 one-off payment) for transferring your WordPress.com site to your own web-host for greater independence and freedom.
Ad-free ($30 per blog, per year) removes any possibility of WordPress.com showing adverts on your blog to non-logged in visitors.
Premium themes (priced per blog for the lifetime of the blog).
A redirect ($13 per blog, per year) for redirecting traffic from yourblog.wordpress.com to your new domain.
Additional space (priced per amount) for storing more posts and media.
VideoPress ($60 per blog, per year) for uploading, hosting and embedding your own videos on your WordPress.com blog.
Conversely, Blogger is not a commercial service. It was acquired by Google in 2003 who have since kept it ticking over, with a few redesigns and some recently-added new templates. The rather ancient Blogger features page (ancient because it explicitly mentions uploading to Google Video and easily accessing iGoogle, two of Google’s many dead projects) promises users access to all features. There are no upgrades, no fees for adding a custom domain, and all the customization options thrown in that Blogger has available.