A growing trend that caught my hair on fire and damaged my desire to gather an ever increasing number of applications to my Apple gadgets is the subscription model. I am not a happy customer.
Trend vs. Backlash
Apple’s App Store model has created a method for app developers to market their wares to a growing customer base, whether Mac, iPhone, or iPad. Microsoft has something similar for Windows PC users, and Google has the Play Store for Android users.
We live in an app-centric world these days and the latest trend is toward application subscriptions where we pay for usage by the month or the year. I am not a happy customer and I see an app subscription apocalypse on the way.
Do the math.
Applications that used to have a price tag that lasted forever are an endangered species. Apps that had a price tag and an upgrade price every few years are an endangered species, too, as both are being replaced by the monthly or annual subscription racket.
What caught my hair on fire is what happened to one of my favorite apps that somehow mirrors what both Microsoft and Adobe did to their customer base. I loved SSH Shell because it was a simple, elegant, and more usable Terminal.app for the Mac. Now it’s a subscription and the price tag does not fit into my application budget which is burgeoning with monthly payments.
I checked Settings on my iPhone and found I have almost two dozen subscription apps, which, when the amounts are added together, exceed the entire amount I spent on applications for all devices– Mac, iPhone, and iPad– just a year ago.
What’s the coming apocalypse?
No, it’s not the trend toward subscriptions. That will stick around. What will happen is obvious. I won’t be using as many applications because I cannot afford as many subscription apps with rental fees as I could apps that came with a price tag (including upgrades every few years). In every case I can see with the few dozen subscription apps I have now, plus those I would like to have but must reconsider, the app subscription price tag is far higher than the previous price (including upgrades).
Adobe is the perfect example. I once bought the Adobe packages (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Premiere, Audition, and others) and then upgraded– with a hefty price tag– every two or three years. Sometimes the upgrade would total $400 to $600. Today’s subscription price tag for Adobe Creative Cloud apps can be as high as $1,800 for 36 months.
How is that not a price increase of 200-percent?
Yet, I see the same trend elsewhere with subscription apps– which, when the monthly or annual fee is added up over a few years– substantially higher than when the app was available for purchase.
I want application developers to make money so they can stay in business and continue to provide upgrades. But thanks to the price increases that came with the subscription model I can no longer afford to use as many applications as I did just a year ago.