They say that nothing improves without change. How we buy and use applications– on Mac, iPhone, iPad, or wherever– is undergoing a rapid sea change. I’m not certain I can afford the changes.
Applications with an annual price tag have been around forever, but never mainstream until Apple set up the subscription process on the Mac App Store and iOS App Store. Subscription applications are growing in number and they’re beginning to impact my app budget– and not for the better.
Microsoft and Adobe have subscription plans for Office and the entire suite of Creative Cloud apps, respectively. I no longer subscribe to either. Wisely, Adobe made Photoshop and Lightroom a separate subscription bundle. Not long ago I received email from Eltima Software– publishers of a number of very good Mac apps and utilities– for a subscription service. Eltima Box comes with eight apps, unlimited use, free upgrades, and an annual price tag. On a per-app basis, the Box package isn’t a bad deal– if you need all those apps.
Here’s another example and this one fits a growing need I have after too many decades of collecting browser bookmarks.
It’s called Raindrop. It’s a bookmark app and subscription that gives you access to your bookmarks on Mac, Windows, iPhone and iPad, Android, and inside most major browsers.
Nice, right? What’s not to like about an elegant, easy-to-use, cross-platform bookmark system? Some features are free, the best features have a monthly or annual price tag.
That trend toward a monthly or annual subscription has begun to affect how many applications I try, which apps I settle on, and inhibits future trials and purchases.
Good software has never been free. Apple charged a few for the nearly annual Mac OS X upgrades. Today, macOS– as with iOS– is free to upgrade. Thankfully, Mac, iPhone, and iPad come with a rich variety of applications but that does not seem to have inhibited a customer’s desire and ability to buy– or, rather, subscribe to– a growing plethora of apps.
One of my favorite cross-platform applications is the Spark email app. It runs on Mac, iPhone, iPad, and is decent even on Apple Watch. Spark is free. Obviously, that business model cannot last forever and I suspect a subscription model is coming– after a few million of us are already hooked on a very good replacement for Apple’s in-house Mail app.
I pay for software I use. I have a number of subscription applications already. I may subscribe to more and buy a few more applications that are worthy. I have limits to how many subscriptions my budget can handle.
I am close to that limit now.