Software vendors, in an attempt to make some money, are one by one, moving to a subscription based model even though the app doesn’t, in any way, support this kind of model. Something like an ongoing service such as a cloud service which is constantly investing in infrastructure to keep it running requires a constant cash infusion. Many apps though do not. You may not go beyond the level of app you have but to keep using your data you have to pay. It’s totally illogical.
Happy with the Version you bought But you Have to Pay to use Your Data?
When we buy a software product, we might find it is the perfect app for our needs. However, new iterations may come along that we prefer. If so, we can just buy it but never are we locked in or to put it another way is our data locked in. We might decide that we are happy with the version we’ve gone to; have paid for the app and created data; and for one reason or another (money has become tight) there is no reason to go beyond the app.
A case in point is TextExpander and more recently Ulysses (an outstanding writing tool). TextExpander decided in version 6 to go subscription at the crazy price of $40 USD or $50 CDN (I put the Canadian dollar here just to emphasize that this can seem expensive in one spot and outrageous in another). They justified it on the basis of you can now share your snippets easily as if you couldn’t share them in the past but maybe not so easily. However, so what. I barely remember my own snippets; why do I want someone else’s and even if I could use a text template they could have always sent it to me. It’s my text; my data or have they completely lost their minds.
Needless to say there was a backlash a magnitude of order the software community has never seen. Why? Price gauging or users fees have definitely been frowned upon to a larger degree in the free world but basically everywhere. When human greed becomes so corrupted and disdainful of human principle it’s people’s duty to speak up or just get walked all over.
In the case of TextExpander four major things happened:
- people expressed their outrage
- They switched to one of many text expansion tools not that they should have had to but fortunately they were there
- Many stayed on their current version which was ultimately very capable
- When TextExpander (Smile Software) reacted with I guess your a loyal client program at half price some swallowed that (problem: you are telling them there is a price that will be complicity accepted in something wrongful).
Of these four things, my view is the best two that could happen is the first two. If you want to stick it to us we’ll stick to you. Right produces might and wrong produces a Nero where Rome is burning while he fiddles.
Ulysses and Day One
There are many examples of this abuse of power but these two products reach for the Zenith hoping no one will notice (check the software reviews and the twitteratn). I’d first like to point out that these are Markdown products and your data is 100% portable so don’t feel trapped but do feel incensed.
These both are writing tools that became great by the user choosing them. Then, their loyal base, I would say, this is as close to business rape as you can get. Instead of doing the hard work of marketing in a saturated environment (that is, working to get new customers) they rape the people that made them great.
Again, neither are far from the only game in town. Ulysses is a fine product; the best of the best but this doesn’t mean that rape is alright. Where it comes to Day One it’s pathetic. This is a journaling app that is supposed to make you mentally healthier. The worst thing for mental health, right up there with loss of a loved one and a job, is financial stress. In terms of Day One, there are so many good options it is laughable that they thought they could pull this off.
There are numerous articles on good journaling apps but here are a few of the highly regarded ones and choice depends on taste:
- Journey – probably as good as they get and runs on everything
- My Wonderful Days – simple and clean but many prefer this
- Momento – an iPhone app only but about as powerful as you could come by but certainly not for everyone
- Reminisce – new and Apple only but incredibly intuitive and clean again something people who just want to store memories will like
- Grid – evoking motivation
And on it goes.
Setapp is my Only Exception to this Rule
This is a hard one and you have to determine if you are being hypocritical when you let anyone away with this. In this case, I’d say no for two reasons.
- Requires an ongoing and well maintained infrastructure to curate, maintain and deliver the apps
- Provides a plethora of apps in its very early days all of which you can choose from in a variety of areas such as Ulysses, Journey and My Wonderful Days
If you were to add up the price of the two pieces of software as a sale you’re approaching their price of $99 yearly but Setapp has for you almost 70 apps as of this writing all of which you can choose from. There’s iStat menus to monitor your unit, Shimo which is a VPN and even 2do which sells for $69.
There are so many good apps, in such a variety of areas, you could almost just use Setapp and not buy a thing again. It covers every major area. I won’t even begin to list all the apps except to say it’s well worth a look.
If there wasn’t this ongoing infrastructure that had to be maintained, would I say this is a good deal. Let’s say you needed, absolutely, ten of the major apps and added up what this would cost; consider that possibly every two years there will be a major upgrade which involves upgrade fees then from that perspective it makes fairly sound financial sense. However, let’s say you take 20 apps and you absolutely have to have them; the cost will definitely be getting up there to buy them and then you know at least 50% of these apps will have some kind of significant upgrade in the offing.
Setapp and the Standalones (No Comparison)
Depending on your needs, Setapp might be considered quite the bargain. For those feeling a financial pinch and to be covered off in all areas in some fashion with a predicable price might reduce financial pressure and make your use of Journey or My Wonderful days truly therapeutic.
Now if you consider a bbbb TextExpander solely, on it’s own, at $40 USD necessary or a bargain but then think you might need 20 apps solely all pricing the same, the costs go through the roof. Greed by those that are greedy does that; they can’t see the big picture because they don’t want to and very possibly (though I doubt this) can’t see the big picture. I’d just say they don’t care and that’s where one has to say enough; you live your short life and I’ll go on to hopefully live my long, one.
If this sounds like a bit of a principled discussion, it is. Right now, money may be flush but there are no guarantees about tomorrow. You retire, medical disaster strikes or just a disaster strikes. The last thing you need at that point is unnecessary financial worries while at the same time feeling your data is locked in.
As the old expression goes “speak now or forever hold your peace.” Honestly, there isn’t a point currently where its too late but there might eventually be if these people get away with this nonsense. If you write in Markdown your data is always portable but not so with everything. Sit down; do the math and if it is looking not so hot it probably isn’t. Act now yet know some subscriptions make sense but what’s going on with a lot of software does not.
Days Gone By
Mitch Kapoor, in the early days of the PC, made a bundle. However, when Microsoft’s Excel came along that was it for 1-2-3. He’d made his money and knew he wanted out. It was time to move on. He didn’t decide to gouge people He just gracefully moved along.
That’s the way it is in tech. You have to be able to adapt as you might have to move along. To gouge people thinking that is the answer to your survival at many’s cost leaves no room for sympathy or a principled life. If TextExpander’s day is done and they can no longer market it as seems to be the case with Day One and on and on it goes, then possibly decisions need to be made other than gouging us – the user who did make you great.