And I am not a subscription apologist either. I just wrote a long post on the need for Apple to build tools for selling upgrades as good as the ones for selling subscriptions.
The real driving force for subscriptions is the need for recurring revenue to support a software business, especially bug fixes and enhancements. The one time sales model never worked in software, it was a path to oblivion that was quickly abandoned or never used by the vast majority of PC developers.
That’s why the PC software market became dominated by maintenance plans and paid upgrades. If you had a good product, and offered valuable new features in an upgrade, your users would be more than happy to buy the upgrade. That matched revenues better to costs, allowing software companies to keep more employees on staff to actually improve the product.
When Apple came out with the iOS App Store, they broke the upgrade model. Existing users get every update for free. Releasing a large update as a separate product means it can’t access the existing user data because of sandboxing, and it can’t be priced at a discount for existing users.
There are workarounds to all these problems using in-app purchase and data export/import schemes but they are costly in developer time and offer a poorer user experience than traditional upgrades did.
I’m convinced if Apple had an upgrade purchasing system as easy to implement as subscriptions, developers would abandon most of their subscriptions and replace them with upgrades.
It's hard to make money off of features you've improved substantially but most of your users bought four years ago. Except games, where you just change the name and a bit of the story and sell it again.
You can use a container that is shared between more than one app - this is not an import/export scheme.
Since Office is the kind of tool you would keep for 3+ years and has an established reputation, this doesn't seem like a bad deal. Especially since Office has always been expensive.
People get angry about subscriptions when the subscription price far exceeds the previous 1-time purchase cost within a reasonable amount of time. In the case of the Android tool in this article, that's either $30 up front or $5 per year. So it seems that the subscription is either underpriced or the up-front price is too high: it's not surprising that they didn't have a lot of anger directed at them. Flip that around and say $15 per year or $30 up front, and I'd bet you have a lot of anger directed at them.
EDIT: Dug out the end dates for Office.
Ver - Mainstream Support - Extended Support
Office 2010 - no longer supported - October 13, 2020
Office 2013 - no longer supported - April 11, 2023
Office 2016 - October 13 2020 - October 14, 2025
Office 2019 - October 10 2023 October 14, 2025
N. You want to smooth out the monthly income associated with sales, avoiding big peaks when you do major releases and avoiding large troughs when there are no releases for some time.
What I mean by v 2.0 is major bugs have been found and major missing features have been added.
It seems to me that after that it's just the feature treadmill to justify asking money recurrently.
As a dev myself I understand you want to live of your craft, but as a customer I'm not going to pay all my life for an app, I will find an alternative.
I happily plunk down for a one-time purchase of software, because it's a simple question: is this worth $n bucks?
A lot of it just sits there for months on end, and then I have the task which I bought it for again, and I use it.
But a subscription? Now I have to ask if it's worth $n bucks a month on an ongoing basis. It's a whole different question, and I feel like if I'm not going to use it for a few months, I'm just bleeding money I'd rather keep in my wallet.
I'm especially wary of products which want $n a month to lock my creative output up in a proprietary format, such that I can only retain access to it if I keep shelling out. That... sucks, and it baffles me why it's so popular.
When I see a subscription I always ask: what's five years of this going to cost me? Why five? I dunno, that's just the multiple that makes sense to me.
Very few subscriptions on offer make sense on that basis. I'd have dropped Netflix a year or two ago, but my Mom likes it. I keep almost dropping Apple Arcade, a piddly five bucks a month, but there's this one game I want to finish and never get around to it... and there it is: a lot of subscriptions are sticky, in a bad way. As far as I know, there's no way for me to pay full price for that one game, and keep my save point, and ditch the rest of the subscription.
Now if I'm making money with it, that's a whole different ballgame. Sure, sign me up. But if I'm not? Likely as not, it's gonna be a pass.
The Adobe situation is simply because it's such a good product suite. You can transition away but the pain points of using other software can be high enough to warrant paying for the software. As for why the majority of users and businesses still pay for creative cloud, it's probably because they do see the value of receiving updates and bugfixes effectively forever.
That's a moneymaker, for one thing. For another, they're the industry standard, and yeah the formats are proprietary but if you take a couple years break and start paying again, your files are going to open.
I was thinking more of products like Roam Research. Not to pick on them in particular, I know a lot of people like it, but it's just a non-starter for me.
The Moleskin iPad app is the one I'd most like to use, if they came up with a different business plan for it.
A number of trends have made this unpopular, and yeah, Apple deserves a big chunk of the blame, but by no means all of it.
But this has been explored fairly well elsewhere, so I'll refrain except to say: I do hope the steps are taken to reverse this unfortunate trend, because shoehorning subscriptions in where it's a bad fit is no kind of solution.
> A perpetual fallback license is a license that allows you to use a specific version of software without an active subscription for it. 
There are some details about which version you are eligible for. The spirit is that if you subscribe for ≥ 1 year, you have some version available when you stop paying.
HN comments and the original announcement: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10165334
The followup introducing the perpetual fallback license: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10278285
Which brings up an interesting observation: the folks at iA seem to be tech purists at heart, and seem disinclined to ask for more money for their products. But I suspect that people would surely be willing to pay more money, and that if they were to price-segment their customers (e.g. by building out some collaboration features for teams, which we would love to have, and then charging a premium for that), they might be able to effect a step function in their business.
Where I work I must do without critical software because it's deemed too expensive by the management (weekly restaurant outings for the managers aren't deem expensive though ;)
And I didn't see any mention of the economics of iOS. From everything I've heard, iOS users are willing to spend more money. In that sense, it does seem like Apple is bringing something to the table with its 30%.
I use both Android and iOS and I've easily spent 10x as much on iOS apps as Android apps.
1. Better targeting by app companies when I am on iOS device.
2. Trust in the Apple app eco system
3. Most top apps are paid, so it makes it more acceptable to pay
When I do buy an app and have a choice I generally will go with the iOS version. I haven't given it a lot of thought, but I suppose it comes down to a couple of reasons.
1. I have never really trusted Android. Probably because it's made by an advertising company and as time goes by, the ad supported business model is starting to feel more and more unhealthy to me.
2. Android apps are rarely as polished as similar iOS apps. Even for relatively basic things like layout or color scheme, iOS apps seem to have more care put into them.
Issues with this are:
- still has the 30% fee instead of 15%
- adds complexity, due to needing to track what each feature is, and which users are allowed to access each feature
- to obviate above, you would probably end up giving all bugfixes/optimizations/etc to old features to all users.
Could maybe clear up the first point by accepting payment via subscription instead, with the following caveat: "if you stay subscribed for more than 3 years [say], you will gain permanent access to the app, minus any features added after you terminate your subscription". As a user, I would feel pretty good about that (i think), since I'm not locked into either a subscription or a full payment. Of course, this is likely a downside for whoever makes the app, since it probably entails less revenue for them.
We've played around with different pricing (monthly, tiers) and none of them changed conversions much. What did help was replacing the free trial (no CC required) with a free tier, as it provided more of an onboarding journey and the subscription purchase becomes the next logical step.
We're building a wearable, so we're in the hardware space, but there is processing of data and personalized improvements to each users experience happening every day. I think we're similar to Whoop in this way. Any Whoop users want to chime in about how they feel about the subscription model?
For $7/mo, you can have MS Office. You get a real Word Processor for all possible writing that happens in the real world where proper want to collaborate on business documents, or use Focus Mode for distraction-free creative writing. IA makes a big deal about their grammar checking but so what? Other word processors have had it for years and MS’s is genuinely impressive when you learn how to set it for your needs. Plus for the same price, you get the workhorse beast Excel, a business email and calendaring client (Outlook), the #1 presentation tool (PowerPoint), and a highly functional note-taking tool (OneNote).
I’m not trying to push Microsoft’s product line. There are others like Corel, or Apple’s iWork suite.
I just don’t understand the plethora of “distraction-free” editors, or all the fuss about code editors. Just use VS Code, JetBrain, Atom, or what have you. But as we speak, people are sweating to create yet more code editors which will have twice the bugs and half the functionality of the existing ones.
The world of writing tools is even worse. Markdown is a bit of a joke in the real world. If I see one more article about how someone wrote a book or dissertation using markdown, python, pandoc, makefile, and git... sigh! The reason they write those blog posts is because no one would believe anyone would go through the hassle of avoiding Microsoft Word to that extreme. It’s one thing to be a bit “retro” and keep using WordStar or WordPerfect, but those are at least real word processors.
As for whether Markdown is "a bit of a joke in the real world," I suppose it depends on what your definition of the real world is. Having attended a major technical writing conference a few weeks ago, I can assure you that while there are arguments in my field over Markdown, they are not over whether we should just give up on it and use Microsoft Word instead.
As for the Markdown vs Word doc argument, sometimes you want to do things with your data that just isn't easy or convenient if it's inside a binary/proprietary filetype like doc/docx. Maybe that's not a use-case that you've ever dealt with, maybe it's a "doomsday" scenario that you think is unrealistic and over-reactionary, but really who cares? There's no need to "yuck someone's yum", just because you don't get it.