These days, it seems more and more programs are going down the road of subscription based pricing. A recurring monthly fee or a discounted yearly fee is often the nature of subscriptions. At one time, this type of pricing rarely made programs but was common with networking. It made sense.
However, developers have had difficulties in recent years sustaining income. They generally did it based on a major upgrade to their program. That is, a v1 generated a first sale income and then a v2 a second generation income and on it went. The problem with this, is the further the program matures, the less it can be enhanced forever.
To maintain the program often cost money around sync. Further, developers needed money to put food on the table and enhance their product. If it was a big hit product, this was less of a problem for lesser known product that still had value.
The Subscription based Model does not bode well with the Consumer
Consumers like to buy their product and until they feel they need an upgrade they might be satisfied with what have for quit some time. People have been off measuring productivity often without resultant benefits and it becomes a hard sale when the thing someone sees is a jazzy doo-dad that doesn’t seem to justify the price. There are people on you-tube who promote themselves as productivity specialists who have absolutely no background in cost benefit analysis.
How Much can anyone Afford
When it was just networking that was the ongoing cost behind a compute engine product, this was not considered excessive. There are costs to storage, transport etc that people realize must be paid.
However, when the subscription spills over into a product that one knows does not necessarily need go beyond version 1, the subscription forces people to move whether they want or can afford it. When you start having everything on this model it gets pricey.
If suddenly you have ten programs on this model it can get quite expensive. Many of us have to watch our dollars. Lots of us have to keep looking at the overall benefit to this to determine if it’s worth it. If you find though the program might be great but not really worth the cost, then it’s time to let your wallet do the walking. There are generally options even to the best programs.
If You Can’t Stand the Subscription Model or Just have to Control Costs
If you find yourself in the situation where too many of your programs are going subscription then it’s time to either decide whether you need the functionality or if you do to shop around for an alternative both in price/cost/capability.
As an example, TextExpander an excellent text expansion tool went subscription based pricing over the last year. In many ways, this type of program makes no sense on subscription pricing. There are numerous, very good alternatives to TextExpander including:
- Expansion tools built in to programs like:
- Keyboard Maestro
The final category of expansion tools are far more than expansion utilities and you may already have them or prefer them for their added functionality.
Don’t Feel Trapped
The subscription based model for pricing is expanding. This requires an assessment for the more programs you have that run under this model the greater your ongoing, committed costs. Assess:
- is the program worth it to you and the money doesn’t matter
- The program is good but it really isn’t necessary
- The functionality is required but it’s time to look at alternatives
- The one model costs x and the other y but I really have to choose the more cost effective model
Don’t Feel Stuck
Often people’s reaction to the new pricing is a lot of upset but no one seems to reverse their pricing. As an example, the very good writing program/markdown editor Ulysses just went subscription pricing and it is not cheap for an editor. In this case, you have lots of options, some better than others but there will be something that works for you. You can:
- just continue to use the Ulysses you have and don’t upgrade
- Switch to another editor such as:
- iA Writer
And on it goes.
It’s odd in that salaries seem to be stuck in the past but there is this whole new criteria of product everybody feels they need now. In actuality, to function today you pretty well have to have a certain set of tools. Yet, there are ways to control the costs to some degree unless it doesn’t matter or you’re addicted and then that becomes another story.