Interesting how this permeates all professions - I have a judge here who refuses to probate a Legal Zoom will - he’s had two contested after admitting them with flaws that left the decedent without a will that was voided. Like the old Fram oil filter commercials…
Many years ago, a huge manufacturer bought 25,000 acres of land in our rural county and set up their plant. Property values in that part of the county shot up from barely $1,000 per acre to over $20,000 as speculation increased about other development. People with very little cash, but who had inherited the family farm, suddenly had estate tax problems. After a conversation with my malpractice insurance carrier, I stopped writing “simple” wills (they were only ever loss leaders for higher value services).
A blast from the past from David Rogue - sure hope iPadOS 16 finally breaks the “programs vs apps” debate…
I think it’s up to the developers. They certainly can now, it’s a matter of choosing to do so. Many of them probably want to keep Mac programs premium so that people will still buy them along with the light version on iPad.
I still don’t like subscription software for the most part, but I’ve got to give credit to the developers of Ulysses because the single price includes all the versions across Mac, iPad, and iPhone. That’s the way to do it.
Credit where credit is due - my Office 365 subscription covers iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Windows…
I used to be fully in the camp of let me pay for the software outright, and upgrade only if I want to. I ran a very old version of Photoshop for years without upgrading because I was stubborn like that. Same with several others like CSP and Corel Painter.
Now that I’m a software developer I understand the argument for subscription based pricing, and platform based pricing. Since all of the platforms are built on different code bases, that means either a very well rounded team who can do it all, or teams built for each platform, which justifies paying for each platform separately. The subscription service as a whole works out better because it allows for more incremental updates and continued improvement of a product instead of releasing one major version every year or two that costs roughly the price of the subscription divvied out. With so much happening on the cloud now, it ensures better security across all users of a product so the company and its users are at less risk.
It’s also quite pricey to keep a staff of developers on hand just for security and bug fixes without a proper revenue stream. What if the next major software release gets pushed back? With no subscription, you’ve got a delay in your revenue stream but still have your developers to pay. I get that it can all get quite expensive if you’re shelling out monthly or annual payments for several programs, plus your subscription services for streaming platforms, etc, etc, but honestly, I used to spend $12-18 for a Record for just one artist a month or so. I used to spend $3-5 to rent a movie each weekend. I used to spend $200-300 on MS Office to own it for 1-3 years. Many people used to spend $200+ a year for Photoshop’s latest, or Corel, or whatever they used for their business. Office is cheaper now with the subscription. I spend about the same on Spotify as on records, but I have access to a lot more than the collection of records I built up. The combined subscriptions I have of Hulu, Disney+, and Netflix are still less than renting movies and cable subscriptions.
TLDR: trading one-time for subscriptions isn’t actually costing us more and gets us better benefits in the long run.
James - I agree with you about 90% - but that Photoshop analogy really galls me how they moved to the Cloud and upped the prices so high for subscriptions vs purchases - they are the example (of gouging) that gives a bad light to subscription software. On the other hand, I pay $99 year for six licenses to Microsoft 365 PLUS 1tb storage for each fir the family - worlds greatest bargain! I also have a separate Microsoft 365 business premium subscription for $16 per month, which includes corporate level email, from my GoDaddy website service.
As with everything, it depends. For me, when I was freelancing, I ONLY used Word. Not anything else in Office. And there was just me on the subscription, no others to spread the cost. AND Office Personal Edition was not for professional use—sure, nobody was going to track me down for using it commercially, but it bothered me to do so. Therefore after years of full Office subscription I wised up and paid for Word 2016 perpetual. After only two years I was well ahead $$. After five years I was hundreds of $$ ahead. No, I did not update it nor was there any reason to. On the contrary, stability was a plus. The Office subscription updates would break a crucial add-in and often make other changes that messed up my workflow.
You don’t need constant security or other updates with a frickin word processor. I would have been perfectly fine with Word 2013 or earlier had I been allowed to purchase a copy. Had I needed more from Office it would have been the same: a frozen perpetual version would be BEST in every way.
Yeah, this issue still burns me. I get that for others a subscription makes sense. It NEVER made sense in any way for me, professionally or personally, when it came to Office.
Photoshop is definitely the worst offender, but I thought they were overpriced to begin with. I remember at one point Photoshop being over $600 for a version that was going to be refreshed in a year. CSP is a huge bargain in comparison. The only benefit for Photoshop now is, if I reallly need it, I could pay the monthly subscription and just use it for the 1-2 months I need it for, then cancel, which I feel like is a good benefit of them moving to the cloud. For professionals who use it every day though, yes, it’s more expensive now.
I hear you on this. I have hated some of the Word updates they’ve done over the years enough to stop using it altogether in my workflow now. I only pay for Office because my wife uses it for homeschooling our kids. When feature updates are downgrades, it’s never a good thing. I think the benefits of 365 though are pretty good overall and it made sense to move to a cloud based option. I also think it makes sense for things like Word to have its own separate purchase option for the software for those who don’t need those benefits like you. I wish I had purchased Office 2013 back in the day as well. That was the best version of Office and I’d still be using Word today if I had.
The problem for most consumers is the first month the subscription fee is withdrawn and they realize they haven’t used the software once that month. Not likely to happen with Office, but happens more often than not with LiquidText or something like that. If the subscription fee is witheld in a month the software lies dormant (you won’t be calling support then, will you?) I believe more people would embrace the subscription model.
Yes, and that would be trivial to implement given most of apps send telemetry to the mothership anyway.
It’ll never happen because it makes revenue harder to forecast. And more importantly they all have seen the cable tv model and thought " hey we can still charge for stuff that nobody’s actually using too ! "
That’s not exactly what the cable tv market was, but it’s a good point nonetheless. The cable market (of which I was a part of for over 12 years) was pretty messed up, but I kind of get why they did it that way. Companies like Viacom who owned CBS and a bunch of other channels would require cable providers to carry their low budget channels in order to also carry CBS and the profits from the package subsidized the lower budget channels that wouldn’t have been profitable otherwise. In part they did it because there were enough subscribers who wanted those other channels that may not even ever watch CBS, so overall they were able to provide more variety to consumers and hook more overall viewers. Those viewers who didn’t watch CBS probably only watched a handful of networks out of all of their cable subscription, but they weren’t going to shell out the $60 a month for just those networks because the perceived value wasn’t there, but in reality, that’s what they were doing. Now that cable is dying, we’re seeing truer capitalism kill off those channels that can’t survive with the cable bundle market. With each network or parent company trying to provide their own streaming service for their exclusive content, subscribers are going to separate into the channels they actually watch, and not pay for the rest, which means less subsidies for those lower budget variety shows we once had. I think in a similar vein, if we only paid for the features we wanted in software, and not in subscription bundles for updates, we’d see far less continuous improvement and new ideas. Basically, this has been the software industry’s response in order to survive and grow.
What also interesting about the cable analogy though is the amount of people who would get cable just for a season of one show, or for one football game, etc. They treated it very similarly to how @Kumabjorn mentions. Pay when you use it. I mentioned I do this with some software. I don’t always pay for CSP even. Sometimes I get the yearly subscription, but sometimes I let it lapse and just pay for a month when I use it. I do the same thing with anything I need from Adobe, or even Amazon Prime. If I know I’ll be ordering a lot and need quick shipping, I might pay for a month. It’s why companies offer a discount on yearly subscriptions, so they can guarantee their revenue more whether you use it every month or not. I do wonder how much we’ve drifted from the value of personal responsibility to corporate responsibility over the years and how much that affects our opinions on subscriptions. I see both sides so I’m not saying either one is right. They just are what they are.
This is as with many things actually a complex topic. I at one point worked for a conglomerate that was part of what is now Paramount. This was during what they called “peak cable”.
From a content provider perspective, each new piece of content represents a significant frontside expenditure and risk. Even more so with something like a new channel/service. One of my relatives was part of the original Animal Planet and they had weekly worries around if they were going be in business the next week. It was only after they established themselves as part of several providers standard package that they had some stability.
These are all things that, for example Netflix is learning the hard way right now… Or even more spectacularly the less than 3 week run of CNN + which allegedly was a several hundred million dollar “oops”.
As you say, on the software side. savvy users are switching it “on and off” so to speak. My daughter lets her Adobe creative cloud lapse during the summer break. And Adobe other than the annoyance of having to log in again and reenter your payment stuff, makes it easy as they don’t make you reinstall or anything, and in fact. you can for all intents and purposes, just pick up where you left off. Of course, they don’t advertise that, but still.
Hm, I do that with Kindle Unlimited and Audible. I wait for a good deal, read/listen till I run out of anything that interests me, then cancel. Just did that with KU and they offered me three months free to not cancel. Okay, if you insist, I thought.
Ulysses is either $5.99/mo or $49.99/yr so what I should do is pay for the NaNoWriMo month of November and cancel after… or go on to write more with it if it’s working for me. Thanks, James, I don’t know why I was thinking I had to commit to more than a month on that app. (Well, a year is the more frugal payment plan, so I would choose that; I just wasn’t considering cancelling after a month-long test.)
Yeah man, I do it with just about every subscription service I use, other than the ones I definitely use every month. Saves a lot of money for relatively little effort.
Actually, if ten developers came together and offered a bundle and you use like three of them at least every month I’d at least do the math on it. People seem to be willing to pay for Disney+.
They have quite a back catalog of films. I got a good deal on a year subscription 10 months ago and I’ve run out of things I want to watch. It’s canceled but I have 2 months left and I guess I should dig around and see if there’s anything left that might be interesting before it goes away. I do not anticipate ever subscribing again since I don’t care for their newer stuff.
With 4 kids under 10 in my house, it’s an easy subscription for us probably for years to come, unless they drastically raise their prices.
Yup, that makes total sense. Disney+ is a treasure trove of kid-centric content.