Bummed about software subscriptions

bcmyers2112

Registered
I guess I'm in the minority here. I like the subscription model because I don't have to worry about upgrades; they're included. And I also recognize that in today's cloud-based ecosystem software providers are also offering access to servers.

Like others have said, it's all about perceived value. The market will decide whether prices are justified and software will (mostly) succeed or fail based on that.
 

Jim

GTD Ninja
I think that the market already has decided. More and more people are moving away from software that requires a subscription. If you look at the comments or review sections of software that has changed over to a subscription model, the vast majority of comments and reviews are discussing competitors to embrace.

For example, a simple calendar utility, Fantastical, has killed their market. The utility does one simple thing:it allows you to quickly add an event to your Apple calendar. When it was sold for a single fee, this one trick pony was worth it.

When they moved to a subscription, I spent a night writing an AppleScript that does what I need: I type a keyboard keystroke, a dialog box appears, I fill out the details and type enter. Done. It is not as elegant as Fantastical, and it doesn't include the bells and whistles—but I don't need them. And my wallet doesn't need a endless subscription.

When I marked my "Eliminate Fantastical" project as done, it was ever so satisfying.

:)
 

bcmyers2112

Registered
I think that the market already has decided. More and more people are moving away from software that requires a subscription. If you look at the comments or review sections of software that has changed over to a subscription model, the vast majority of comments and reviews are discussing competitors to embrace.
Comments and reviews are not market data. Often negative voices are the loudest and their volume makes their numbers look bigger than they are. After all, do you call every service you use to compliment them when things are going well? Most of us usually don't.

Neither of us has enough data to know if this model is succeeding or failing en masse. But the fact that more and more software is shifting to this model suggests that it isn't failing across the board.
 

Jim

GTD Ninja
I can't speak for others, but I leave positive reviews and comments for software that serves my needs. TaskPaper and Keyboard Maestro in particular. And I have promoted GTD to many friends and associates. Passionate voices are the loudest, and subscription models have inspired those voices to speak against the model.

Well, let's give MindNode and Fantastical a year. I'd love to see their subscription numbers versus the money they made on the non-subscription sales at that point.

Outside of entertainment (which brings fresh content on a daily basis), I have only one subscription to software. It is Ulysses, a writing app. I have yet to feel that i get genuine value for my subscription fee. They do minor updates and bug fixes, but for the total of $59.98 over the past two years, I have non seen value for my subscription money. When I find a better writing app, I will migrate and not look back.
 
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mcogilvie

Registered
Comments and reviews are not market data. Often negative voices are the loudest and their volume makes their numbers look bigger than they are. After all, do you call every service you use to compliment them when things are going well? Most of us usually don't.

Neither of us has enough data to know if this model is succeeding or failing en masse. But the fact that more and more software is shifting to this model suggests that it isn't failing across the board.
A few years ago I saw the suggestion that there were only two ways to really stay afloat making apps: make games or get bought out by somebody big. Subscriptions are clearly an attempt to find a third way. I think MindNode will be fine, but I’m not sure about Fantastical or Ulysses. Sometimes I think they are going to be kept afloat only by the efforts of the writers at The Sweet Setup.
 

TesTeq

Registered
Outside of entertainment (which brings fresh content on a daily basis), I have only one subscription to software. It is Ulysses, a writing app. I have yet to feel that i get genuine value for my subscription fee. They do minor updates and bug fixes, but for the total of $59.98 over the past two years, I have non seen value for my subscription money. When I find a better writing app, I will migrate and not look back.
So after two years Ulysses costs more than Scrivener... (not mentioning Byword if you don't write long complicated publications with a lot of research). @mcogilvie
 

mcogilvie

Registered
So after two years Ulysses costs more than Scrivener... (not mentioning Byword if you don't write long complicated publications with a lot of research). @mcogilvie
I haven’t really found a use for the structured approach to writing of Ulysses. A lot of indie developers work off the hope that they are bringing something uniquely valuable to the marketplace, which leads them to overvalue their work.
 

Oogiem

Registered
I have only one subscription to software. It is Ulysses, a writing app. I have yet to feel that i get genuine value for my subscription fee. They do minor updates and bug fixes, but for the total of $59.98 over the past two years, I have non seen value for my subscription money. When I find a better writing app, I will migrate and not look back.
Try Scrivener.
 

TesTeq

Registered
I haven’t really found a use for the structured approach to writing of Ulysses. A lot of indie developers work off the hope that they are bringing something uniquely valuable to the marketplace, which leads them to overvalue their work.
Confession:
I started to write my first book using Ulysses and after a week moved everything to Microsoft Word to make it happen...
I started to write my second book using Scrivener on iPad and after two weeks moved everything to Microsoft Word to make it happen...
I can see a pattern here... ;)
@Jim @Oogiem
 

OF user

Registered
I started to write my first book using Ulysses and after a week moved everything to Microsoft Word to make it happen...
I started to write my second book using Scrivener on iPad and after two weeks moved everything to Microsoft Word to make it happen...
I can see a pattern here.
One of these days you will start a book using MS Word.
 

mcogilvie

Registered
Confession:
I started to write my first book using Ulysses and after a week moved everything to Microsoft Word to make it happen...
I started to write my second book using Scrivener on iPad and after two weeks moved everything to Microsoft Word to make it happen...I can see a pattern here... ;)
@Jim @Oogiem
I thought about this earlier and was too polite to say it. I am emboldened, and will just say it now. There has been a lot of work on how to write, and the advice is consistent. The way to write is to write, regularly and steadily. The key does not lie in software. The columnist Walter Winchell wrote:
Red Smith was asked if turning out a daily column wasn’t quite a chore. …”Why, no,” dead-panned Red. “You simply sit down at the typewriter, open your veins, and bleed.”
 

chirmer

Registered
So I went through a period last year of trying others: Todoist again (still don't like it). WIth @chirmer wonderful assistance, I setup a system in Trello that I really liked but because I was a heavy user of the Butler power up I had to move to the business pricing model (as an individual) at $13.50 CDN/month. That was just too much for what I perceived I was getting. So, after a half year away, II went back to Nozbe and so happy that I did (except I still feel a little guilty cuz @chirmer was so helpful and a great advocate of Trello!).
Don't feel bad! It's all about what works for you :)

I'll be perfectly honest. I love Trello to pieces and am a Community Leader for them. And I stopped using it for my GTD lists! My lists just got too long and I find the little icons and such on the fronts of cards distracting when trying to read a long list of tasks. My workplace now just uses it as the home base for any projects we're working on. One place to track progress, store files, have discussions, etc. We all keep our own task lists in whatever apps make us happy (and for most of my coworkers, that's paper). It's the perfect sweet spot for us.
 

chirmer

Registered
I can't speak for others, but I leave positive reviews and comments for software that serves my needs. TaskPaper and Keyboard Maestro in particular. And I have promoted GTD to many friends and associates. Passionate voices are the loudest, and subscription models have inspired those voices to speak against the model.

Well, let's give MindNode and Fantastical a year. I'd love to see their subscription numbers versus the money they made on the non-subscription sales at that point.

Outside of entertainment (which brings fresh content on a daily basis), I have only one subscription to software. It is Ulysses, a writing app. I have yet to feel that i get genuine value for my subscription fee. They do minor updates and bug fixes, but for the total of $59.98 over the past two years, I have non seen value for my subscription money. When I find a better writing app, I will migrate and not look back.
There definitely feels like there's a revolt in general against subscriptions. I am not opposed to the model - I think devs should be paid for their work and on a consistent basis. I was a massive fan of Adobe's Creative Cloud (before I ditched the platform), because the subscription model works much better for the end user.

I just hate the prices. I think most apps cost too much. Fantastical is a great example. IMO it doesn't bring nearly enough to the table to justify the cost. Same with WorkFlowy. $5/mo is too much for an outliner that does not support attachments, due dates, etc. I also think OmniFocus (all of the Omni products, actually) are vastly overpriced. You compare these prices to platforms like Microsoft Office and it's easy to see what's value for the money and what's not. Of course, if you have the money and like the product, go for it. I just think there's a lot of indie-developed software out there that, when compared to other platforms, costs 2-3x as much per feature.

I think these types of apps need to be realistic about their pricing. I have my gripes about Todoist (what do you mean, subtasks stay completed when a task repeats? WTF?), but their pricing model is perfect IMO. A good balance of value for cost. Because when subscriptions stack up, suddenly not everything is affordable and things will have to be cut.
 

John Ismyname

Registered
I used to pay $50 or so (CDN)/year for DayTImer and thought nothing of it.
I had forgotten about the analog papers planner dayz :) Back then, we didn't subscribe we paid and we owned.

In this day and age with software snaking through everything, ownership is becoming precarious. The John Deere company thinks farmers don't own their own tractors as they license their tractors from the John Deere company by virtue of the end-user software agreement. The very definition of an asset involves control of it. If a third party can flip the kill-switch and turn of your software (as Quicken did with me) then you don;t really own something if you do not have control of it. This makes me consider how I am going to retain and use my data after I end my relationship with a software vendor.
 
I have my gripes about Todoist (what do you mean, subtasks stay completed when a task repeats? WTF?), but their pricing model is perfect IMO.

A good balance of value for cost. Because when subscriptions stack up, suddenly not everything is affordable and things will have to be cut.
LOL on Todoist, but yes, I agree, the pricing model is pretty good.

Which is what happened to me when I started to list all the subscriptions I had and their related costs. I'm spending how much? Whoa.
 

aderoy

Registered
The dislikes I have for subscriptions: not owning data, export if required is difficult or impossible, lack of advancement or just listening to end-user feedback. What happens if they close down?

I have been using iMindmap from version 7 thru 10 now since the passing of Tony B it has morphed into anew application that is web focused, no longer desktop application. Yes a new name with 'upgrade now'. Not my cup of tea. I am now stalled at version 10 with little possibility of exporting/migrating to another application.

Then again some paid software seem to have irregular updates in a year yet when compared to previous editions the same problems continue with users voicing why is this still an issue for the last 3 or more years?

The DayTimer/Franklin/TimeSystem/Filofax etc systems of paper agendas are 'subscriptions' models yet you own the data and physical media there is no remote off switch (unless stolen from car, forgotten on train and other unforeseen issue).

What is old is now new again.
Mainframe lead to the personal computer now going back to 'cloud' or web which is just the same. Waiting for the second PC revolution to rise.

stepping off soapbox. Delete is your friend.
 

PeterW

Registered
I am not feeling good about subscription software. I understand developers need to be paid for their work, including ongoing maintenance. I use MindNode infrequently, perhaps six times a year, and I am not sure if I want to commit to it. Software subscriptions are starting to feel like television, which has a ridiculous array of possibilities and unlimited expense for programs of marginal value. As the cumulative weight of software subscriptions mounts up, I feel increasingly selective.

There is another side to the economics. Microsoft charges around US $100 a year for a family subscription to Office. I don’t use it, but this is a lot of very powerful software. Apple gives away a lot of roughly equivalent software. Neither company is in financial trouble ;). As a general rule, the smaller the audience for software, the more a developer has to charge per user. Therefore some software is simply not sustainable commercially. I think I am seeing this with productivity software. A few companies are around $100 per year per person. Personally, I see no useful correlation between software quality and ongoing cost when it comes to gtd.

Thoughts, anyone?
I agree. The subscription model seems to be more about creating a regular revenue stream for developers than about the cost of development.

I have been using Fantastical (a calendar replacement app for iOS) for a number of years. It has some nice time-saving features that are not in the standard Apple Calendar app. There are also iPad and Mac specific versions although I don't use them. Anyway, the developer (FlexiBits) recently moved to a subscription model with the v3 release and bundled all three apps (iOS, iPad, Mac) together for the one price. In my country the cost is $7.99 per month. If you rely on all three apps the cost may be considered reasonable. Given that I only use the iOS version, there is no way I will fork out almost $100. It's simply not worth it.

For existing users, the developer allowed the upgrade from v2 to v3 for free but with a limited feature set that was equal to v2. However when using the app, you now see the new inaccessible feature's options in settings with a star next to them to indicate they are a paid feature. From what I could see on Twitter, a lot of users abandoned the app and found similar replacement apps (e.g. Calendar 366) for a one-time payment.

Unless an app is vital and there is no substitute, I avoid subscriptions. I would prefer one-off payments for an app and then another one-off payment if a new improved version is released.
 
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