Not that far back in the day most of us obtained our applications the old fashioned way. We paid for them. I go back to the days of floppy disks when apps were expensive, came in big boxes with instructions in bound volumes. Those days are gone, replaced by CDs and DVDs, then replaced again by downloads. But in most cases we paid for the software we used and had the privilege of using it nearly forever. Then came upgrades. And we paid again to use software which had more features but did mostly what it did when we bought it the first time.
There once was shareware; apps which could be used for free, but with an option to pay the app developer. Commercial software had higher price tags and a larger user base, but upgrades became the norm. Then the app stores arrived to change both purchase and distribution methodologies. The past few years have seen yet another adjustment in how we obtain applications for Mac, iPhone, and iPad (which works much the same way on Windows and Android).
Think of it much the same as a magazine or newspapers subscription whereby a single price paid for the content for a month or a year. Subscription software works the same way. Pay by the month, or pay by the year, but pay forever to use the applications.
Here’s the story of a once must have application called Send Later which worked as a Mail plugin on my Mac and allow me to schedule emails to be sent at a specific time and date. It was a great app and I’ve been willing to promote it a few times through the years because it just worked.
Last year Send Later died as a standalone app but was reborn as a component within a package of email plugins called MailButler. The only problem is the subscription pricing scheme, but if email is your thing then this is the collection of utilities to have. What’s not to like? Undo send. Cloud storage. Attachment reminders. Snooze. Scheduling. Tracking. Follow ups. Signatures and tasks. All are features you won’t find in Mail, but combine to make the heavy email user’s day a little lighter.
I hate email. But I love the scheduler in MailButler so I paid the piper and subscribed. About $8 a month for a dozen or so features, but only one of which I use daily.
Applications with a subscription model are all the rage these days. Microsoft has them. Adobe has them. A number of polished and professional applications are moving in that direction. Software– like cable TV, cell phone service, and car leasing– is becoming a monthly expense.
This week I saw a special promotion for MailButler for a one year subscription for $14.99. I’m paying over $8 a month to use a single feature.
Anybody see a problem there? Well, it gets worse.
I also found a lifetime subscription to MailButler for $35. I’m paying over $8 a month for software that is so popular that a lifetime subscription has been reduced to $35.
Anybody see a problem there?
Methinks subscription pricing may not be for, 1) every Mac user, and, 2) every Mac app developer. What this scenario tells me is that app developers need to be careful about venturing into subscription pricing and consider the market carefully before pricing the app. MailButler’s dramatic reversal in pricing smacks of desperation and leaves a bad taste in the mouths of those who paid far more than the promo price and makes one think the developer may be having financial problems.