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Making a decision to say “NO” to subscriptions

This month three applications I use have moved to a subscription model. No discussion with customers, just an update to the app that now includes a monthly/annual payment method. One company aptly described the reason, although in fairness, I have only pulled out the salient part:

With its current paid model, we are unable to monitize on existing users while they still benefit from new features. (emphasis added).

Subscription naturally tends to monetise existing users. I object to this. At the point of switching the model it is the existing user base that bears the brunt. Subscriptions are popping up everywhere and the monthly outgoings are rapidly increasing. I cannot subscribe to all the software I want to use, as the price is prohibitive. Perhaps I should be thanking subscription model software, because they have made me take a long hard look at my software expenditure. So I’m taking a long hard look at all the software I use. I’m also actively investing time into free or open source solutions. With every piece of paid software, I’m taking a look at what is out there that is free. It’s surprising that there is some great stuff available.

I’ve realised that some software is essential and the subscription must be paid, but there’s lots of software that falls into the useful category and this is the area I’m culling the most. Whilst Office365 may get away with using a subscription model other software that can be be done by something free may not. In the end I believe that the subscription model will be the undoing of proprietary software as users begin to reign in their spending and like myself are simply beginning to say “NO” and looking for free alternatives. Developers need to think hard before they use a subscriptions model. In the world of users most I talk to really dislike the model and it’s one thing that will get them looking for alternatives. It could end up reducing a developer’s user base rather than increasing it. If you’re a user, then I encourage you to say NO to subscriptions where you can and invest more in free and open source software. In the end things will only change if users reject the models they disagree with.

In the last three months I have axed five pieces of software all that have moved to a subscription model, and yet I’m still productive with free software. I’m voting with my feet. I’m also rating these apps where possible with 1-star. Why this negative rating? Any app I am no longer able to use for whatever reason gets 1-star. The developer is not only rated on the features of the app, but the whole eco system he creates. After all it’s not just the software I buy into but how he runs his business. If his business model is unacceptable in my opinion, it will be part of my rating. Let’s face it, if I am no longer using the app then it cannot be rated above 1-star. Therefore, any decision made by the developer will be reflected in my rating and the pricing model is massively significant. The developer has every right to introduce a subscription model, but I have every right to disagree and reflect that in my rating.

All this has started me onto an ongoing goal to reduce the number of software packages I use and see how much paid software I can shed! I will start sharing the free solutions that I replace paid one’s with in the hope it will help others cut down on their costs.

I should add that there is a cost to free solutions. Not in terms of money, but in terms of time and this could cost you money if you spend too much time trying to get the solution to work. Free solutions tend not to work out of the box and require assembly, or they require an investment of time to learn as they are not as user friendly as paid ones. What I will say is that over time the effort pays off and the solutions work just as well, if not better than paid ones and time invested in learning them massively reduces. You need to make sure you’re in this for the long haul.