Do I want to subscribe to every app I have? No. Would I? No. Are subscriptions a general answer to the appalling App Store revenue model? No, because the concept just isn’t scaleable. The psychological barrier to a recurring financial commitment is too great, in the general case.
If an app I use switches to a subscription model, I ask myself:
- Do I use this at least a few times a week?
- Am I personally invested in its future?
- Is it indispensable somehow, maybe because of file-format lock-in, industry standard usage, or something like that?
If it’s something I rarely use, I’ll probably just pick another app. If I’m not invested in it (in terms of its specific workflow, features, user experience and such), it’s even easier for me to just move away.
The pros to subscription app pricing have been discussed — less expensive and longer “trial periods”, the ability to unsubscribe when no longer needed, multi-platform support, etc. — and the negatives have been ranted and spewed.
Both have merit.
For me, subscription apps have forced a re-evaluation of needs and wants. I purchased Byword, iA Writer, and Ulysses all at different points, and I use each of them differently (Byword for finding and replacing text, iA Writer for editing and previewing, and Ulysses for initial writing).
Now, with Ulysses going subscription-based and imagining Byword and iA Writer doing the same, I’d feel the need to commit to one. Ulysses is my favourite of the bunch, so I’m committing to it. It can also complete the largest part of my workflow and can fulfill the latter parts of the workflow — albeit, with less ease.
My current app subscriptions which yield a “yes” to Matt’s questionnaire:
When I think of apps I wouldn’t commit to on a subscription basis, Fantastical skyrockets to the top of the list. Fantastical is a fantastic app (ha!) with a set of features and a design other calendar apps can’t match. But it doesn’t answer “yes” to any of those above questions, so it won’t result in a subscription.
If Things goes subscription based, I’ll commit annually without blinking.
This isn’t me being a jerk. It’s just reality. App dollars are finite and the App Store is a competitive place. I suspect subscription revenue models will only make the App Store that much more competitive.